Today’s post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member Dennis Miller, Associate Vice President of Human Resources and Benefits Administration at The Claremont Colleges. 

As we wrap up calendar year 2020, which has been an exceptionally difficult year worldwide to say the least, thought must be given to the working paradigms organizations must consider in 2021 and beyond - especially those in local and state government, healthcare, and higher education.

According to an article from September 24, 2020, authored by Sheiner and Campbell from The Brookings Institution, revenues from state and local government are forecasted to be reduced by $5.44 trillion by the end of 2022 due to the effects of the pandemic, primarily from less revenue derived from income, sales, property, and corporate taxes. To be sure, the reduction in revenue will likely roll-forward well beyond 2022.

These revenue shortfalls will no doubt lead to these same entities lobbying for relief programs to be offered by the federal government, something we've already seen happen in 2020. These organizations will also probably initiate their own internal reform measures to help mitigate the issues the best they can while remaining financially viable. 

One area of interest that continues to percolate is the volume of employee positions at a given employer that are able to work from home (WFH) compared to positions that do not support the WFM model - for obvious reasons. 

Pre-pandemic, in local and state governments and higher education, it was a tough sell to have employees engage in a WFH program. Generally, policies did not support this model and except for using a WFH model only on an “exception basis”, many organizations simply did not support the idea.  Some view the WFH model as ineffective for a variety of data points (some data points more valid than others), and managers will often prefer to see their employees “in person”. 

Sure, for leaders, a WFH model requires a different style of leadership and management. But, is not “adaptability” a key quality of any good leader? 

If 2020 has taught us anything about working remotely, it is that the WFH model can be effective for many positions within local and state government, as well as higher education. The healthcare environment is a little more difficult to broadly apply a WFH model due to the nature of the work, although some healthcare workers do enjoy a WFH model. Still, the mindset has begun to shift in government and higher education to support a WFH model, out of sheer necessity, and the last eight months has already shattered more than a few paradigms about working remotely in many industries. 

For those policy makers within government agencies and higher education, as you conduct the annual review of policies and procedures in preparation for the 2021 calendar year, now is an ideal time to integrate a more formalized WFH written program for 2021 and beyond.

Given the ominous financial outlook for at least the next 2 years, there is likely a way to show how a WFH model will actually lower the overall cost of labor when you factor in the cost for providing a physical workspace, and any of the perks that employees might enjoy by nature of working on-site versus working from home.

How has your organization adapted to the WFH model and its related benefits? 

Today's post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member, Neil Reichenberg. Neil is the executive director of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources and has researched and written extensively about HR and labor relations in the public sector and given speeches around the world including at the United Nations and in testimony before the US Congress. Here he discusses the critical importance of government on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” President Ronald Reagan, 1981 Inaugural Address 

“I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform 

The above quotes reflect sentiments that, over a period of many years, have resulted in the short-sighted underfunding of government in the United States. Yet, as we have seen before, when there is a crisis, such as the current global pandemic caused by COVID-19 (Coronavirus), it is government that leads the fight. We need to recognize the crucial role that government plays in the lives of its citizens and ensure that it has the needed resources to effectively combat crises.   

Once COVID-19 is brought under the control, we need to step back and give further thought to the role of government in disasters, determine the processes and infrastructure that need to be developed, and ensure that government has all the resources it needs to meet any challenge.  

Some specific areas I would suggest considering are: 

The global pandemic has reminded us, once again, that when things fall apart, it’s government with its heroic emergency responders and health care workers, that we look to for help. While cutting costs and corners may make a balance sheet look better in the short-run, it’s dangerous and deeply unfair to those we rely on in difficult times. 

Today's post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member Neil Reichenberg, who is the executive director at IPMA-HR. Here he discusses the benefits when governments measure employee engagement, but also the finding that most don't.

The International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) recently conducted a study focused on employee engagement and retention that found that government employers are seeing positive results from efforts to improve employee engagement, although less than half conduct employee engagement studies. Improved workplace collaboration, increased communication and higher retention were the most common positive results cited by survey respondents to their employee engagement efforts. The report is based on responses from 417 IPMA-HR members and the survey results are available here.

Almost 70% of the respondents indicated that employee engagement is valued or highly valued at their organization. Efforts are being undertaken to engage their employees in the goals of the organization that include involving employees in decision making, particularly in the strategic planning process. Enhanced communication, recognition programs, career development opportunities, and developing employee committees and focus groups were among the other efforts that were cited. As to the sustainability of these efforts, 57% said they would be sustainable in the long-term, 38% in the short-term, and 5% said they were not sustainable. Interestingly, only 36% of respondents from larger organizations said their efforts were sustainable in the long-term.

Overall, 42% of the survey respondents indicated that their organizations had conducted employee engagement studies. Larger governmental organizations defined as those with at least 10,000 employees conduct engagement studies at a higher rate (63%) as compared to medium size governments with between 500 – 10,000 employees (53% rate) and small organizations, with fewer than 500 employees (33% rate). Almost half of the respondents rated the level of employee engagement between 7 – 10 on a 0 – 10 scale with 0 being not at all engaged to 10 being highly engaged. The biggest barriers across the public sector to measuring employee engagement ranged from lack of leadership support, budgetary restrictions, and organizational culture that does not support conducting such studies. Lack of leadership support (33%) was the most common challenge cited when organizations try to improve employee engagement followed by staff cooperation (17%) and budget (17%).

The most popular measures included in employee engagement studies include employee satisfaction, workplace culture, manager-staff relations, professional development opportunities, work-life balance, and compensation. Over 90% of those who conduct employee engagement studies communicate the results to the employees in a variety of ways and take steps such as developing action plans and appointing employee engagement focus groups.

Public sector organizations are increasingly focused on retaining their employees with the most successful retention factors being increasing salaries and compensation, offering career development opportunities, providing alternative work schedules, improving hiring practices, gathering information through exit interviews and focus groups, providing orientation programs for newly hired employees, and hosting team-building activities.

This post is submitted by Joyce Maroney, Executive Director of the Workforce Institute at Kronos. National Public Service Recognition Week is May 5-11. How do you show appreciation for public workers?

Did you know there is an annual event celebrating the contributions of public service workers? Public Service Recognition Week was created in 1985 by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (the HR arm of the federal government) to honor public service workers at all levels of government, from local to federal. And helping government workers feel great about their jobs has probably never been more important. In a 2017 Politico article entitled "America's government is getting old", the federal government workforce is cited as having "grown significantly older than the American workforce overall. Today, just 17 percent of federal workers are under 35 years old. (In the private sector, almost 40 percent are.) And more than a quarter of federal employees are now older than 55."

As they seek to replace retiring workers and encourage younger workers to consider careers in the public sector, leaders are grappling with the same recruiting and retention challenges as their private sector peers - low unemployment means candidates and employees have more choices. While there are lots of benefits to working for government organizations (they still have pensions!), many of these jobs are physically and emotionally grueling.

So who signs up for these jobs? In a post he wrote for us last year, our board member Neil Reichenberg said, " Through research that we have done at IPMA-HR, we have found that the top factors driving employee engagement in the public sector are: serving the public with integrity, feeling a sense of accomplishment, and making a difference by working for government. Indeed, for many people, it is the mission of government that drives them to a career in public service. "

That's right, public sector workers want to serve. The key to finding them and retaining them is to help them do so. How? We asked a couple of public sector HR leaders with over 80 years of service between them what works. My interviews with them are available below and I encourage you to have listen. Continue reading past these podcasts for several bonus features.

Fagan Stackhouse, award winning HR Director for the City of Raleigh, North Carolina shares his insights about attracting, retaining, and thanking public service employees below. After listening to Fagan, you may want to check out job openings in Raleigh!

Interview with Fagan Stackhouse, Director of HR for Raleigh, North Carolina

Our Workforce Institute board member Neil Reichenberg shares his thoughts about ways to attract and retain public service workers in this podcast:

Conversation with Neil Reichenberg, Executive Director of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources

Bonus Features:

On twitter, you'll find a host of heroes nominated by their peers on the @KronosInc handle tagged #PSRW.

Below, you'll find videos that highlight our support (and the admiration of the children of Kronos) for our public service heroes.

Today's post comes to us courtesy of board member Neil Reichenberg, executive director at IPMA-HR.

One of the consequences of working for the same organization – in my case for the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) – for more than 37 years is that people tend to ask me, “What has kept you there so long?”

When I reflect on the answer to this question, it takes me back to the very start of my career, and my strong belief in government, which I believe plays an incredibly positive role in our lives.

In his oft-quoted inaugural address in 1961, President John Kennedy stated, "And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country."

Those words spoke deeply to me at the time and they resonate today just as strongly. And I am certainly not alone. Every day, millions of dedicated public servants answer this call and I have been fortunate through my work with IPMA-HR to interact with many talented public employees – they have kept me here just as much as anything else.

Through research that we have done at IPMA-HR, we have found that the top factors driving employee engagement in the public sector are: serving the public with integrity, feeling a sense of accomplishment, and making a difference by working for government. Indeed, for many people, it is the mission of government that drives them to a career in public service.

Dissatisfaction with government/poor political leadership is consistently cited as the most important non-economic problem facing the country today according to the monthly poll conducted by Gallup. This is troubling, especially coming from someone who has dedicated my career to an association that represents public sector. We must do better to be the positive force in people’s lives that we want to be.

I’m proud to work at IPMA-HR and believe that we have an opportunity to improve the way government works around the world. You see, in order to succeed, governments need to be able to recruit, develop, and retain talented and dedicated employees who are engaged and committed to the important missions of their agencies. Working with public sector human resource management to find these people and engage and develop them properly can make government better and more effective. As with every other sector, it’s the people that truly make the difference.

The promise of making that difference is enough to get me up and to work every day – 37+ years later, there’s still so much good work to be done.

Today's post is submitted by Joyce Maroney, Executive Director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Rossman, the Chief Human Resources Officer of Hennepin County in Minneapolis, MN. Michael is a longtime Hennepin County employee having spent more than twenty years working in various capacities in the county. He is now responsible for human resources strategy and execution covering all of the 8,000-plus employees in the county.  Being an HR leader is never easy, but can be particularly challenging in the public sector.  Within the next 2-5 years, it's estimated that Hennepin County will face a workforce shortage of 100,000 jobs.  In my conversation with Michael, he shared how he pursues innovation in HR practices in order to recruit and retain the workers they'll need.  Among other topics we discussed:

You can listen to my conversation with Michael Rossman below:

Connect with us

Subscribe to our blog

cross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram