Strategic Federal Human Capital Management – HR Optimization

Federal Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs) are essential to ensuring federal employees and agencies are operating at a high level and at optimal efficiency. A key role of CHCOs is working closely with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and other stakeholders in creating strategies to attract, develop and retain a high performing, engaged and diverse federal workforce.

This is the eighth post in a series reviewing strategic federal human capital management challenges facing federal HR leaders. As part of their strategic process, agencies should look to ensure a data-driven approach to optimizing the HR function.

The Critical Workforce

As part of his Management Agenda, the president has stated that the federal government’s workforce is one of its most valuable assets. As scrutiny of the government continues to increase, expectations that the federal workforce is managed effectively and efficiently also rise. The Congress also recognizes this, and requires that:

  • Agencies establish a system of human capital management with plans that are strategically developed
  • leadership has authority and accountability
  • performance is measured and continuously improved.

A tall task.

With this importance and accountability, it is imperative for CHCOs and other HR leaders to ensure they are acting in a strategic manner as they work with the OPM and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

HR leaders understand that a high-performing HR organization is critical to an agency’s success and a high performing agency. Without highly-skilled, engaged employees, an agency’s ability to achieve its mission evaporates.

To accomplish this, HR needs to take a holistic view of its responsibilities, including strategy, processes, technology, skills and measurement. With a firm grasp of these areas, HR is in a position to optimize its function — to identify areas to improve and optimize performance, which enhances its value to the agency.

Five Keys to HR Optimization

To ensure the HR function of an agency is optimized, focus on these 5 keys:

1. HR Strategy
The first step to optimizing HR is to ensure your agency’s HR strategy is aligned with your agency’s strategy. Only by clearly understanding your agency’s mission and strategy can you properly put into place your HR strategy, which should include your vision for the HR function. With strategy in place, you can establishing KPIs for HR and link HR performance to agency performance. You’ll be in position to build and improve your capabilities and assess HR’s performance and maturity.

2. HR Technology
The HR technology you use to achieve your objectives needs to align with your workflow, processes and policies in order to work towards optimization. Today’s best modern HR technology adapts to the way your agency operates, not the other way around, so you can then work on improving workflow, eliminating bottlenecks and achieving new efficiencies. Technology should include robust analytics to capture data and report on every step in your workflow, so you can identify areas for improvement.

With configurable, adaptable technology, your HR department will be better able to focus on more strategic issues, rather than diverting valuable resources to adjusting existing operations. Cloud-based HR applications should be strongly considered as part of the overall Cloud First initiative.

3. HR Service Delivery
HR departments need to fully understand their agencies’ and employees’ needs and priorities, and can then focus on improving HR service delivery as part of their optimization strategies. With this understanding, HR can look to improve services, reduce costs, consolidate systems, provide better control, align services with strategy and focus on continuous business process improvements. By assessing what services can and should be centralized or decentralized, HR can focus on enhancing services at the appropriate level, while maintaining proper control and incorporating appropriate reporting.

4. HR Process Optimization
An agency’s HR organization provides key services as it strives for workforce efficiency and optimization of employee performance. This optimization encompasses a broad spectrum of activities from locating and attracting new hires to the act of hiring and then engaging and developing employees to ensure their wishes and career goals are aligned with the agency’s mission and goals. Of course, many processes extend beyond the HR organization to include hiring managers, other people managers and all employees. The more improvements that can be made to agency-wide and departmental processes, the more efficient and better performing the agency will be.

5. People Analytics
At the heart of HR optimization are people analytics, the foundation which sheds light on inefficiencies, highlights opportunities for process improvements and shows a path forward for HR optimization. Data can be used to optimize workforce planning, staffing and onboarding efforts, performance and engagement priorities, and employee development programs. Analytics can provide insight on how and where to reduce administrative work for HR resources and others in the agency, and to measure HR operational metrics. Skill and competencies across the organization can be measured and accompanying development plans implemented to improve and optimize employee performance. Executive reports provide agency leadership with the insight it needs to institute further organizational improvements.

Faced with increasing pressures of a competitive environment for acquiring talent, an aging workforce and embedding millennials into their agencies, federal HR leaders must be laser focused on creating a a high-performing workforce that is positioned for success and mission achievement. While the challenge is not easy, the goal of a truly optimized HR function for their agencies is not only attainable, but well within reach, and positions HR as a strategic component of today’s modern federal agency.

Related Posts:

Strategic Federal Human Capital Management — Succession Planning
Strategic Federal Human Capital Management — Knowledge Sharing
Strategic Federal Human Capital Management — HR Service Delivery
Strategic Federal Human Capital Management — People Analytics
Strategic Federal Human Capital Management — Security
Strategic Federal Human Capital Management — Employee Engagement
Strategic Federal Human Capital Management — Talent Acquisition

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