People gathering


How can federal agencies win the war for talent in the digital era?

Salesforce as a solution

In today’s resource-constrained environment, public and private organizations alike rely on their human resources (HR) departments to attract and retain qualified, mission-critical talent. A traditional view of HR would dictate that a combination of aggressive recruitment tactics and competitive compensation packages should win the day—and the candidate. A more evolved view, however, tells a different story—one that could provide government agencies with a competitive edge in the “war for talent.”​

War for talent

Today employees are benefitting from a growing economy and facing more choices in their employment than ever. On average, 200,000 jobs have been added per month for the last two years, and over a third of US employers plan to hire additional employees in 2016. As jobseekers gain more opportunities and greater transparency into the job market through digital recruitment platforms, it has come increasingly important for federal agencies to find new ways to attract, hire, and retain employees to remain competitive with the private sector. Exacerbating this challenge, earnings for new federal employees have decreased more than 10 percent points relative to the private sector between 2009 and 2015. Without compensation as a tool to bring employees in the door and prevent compensation-based attrition, federal agencies should adapt their tactics, and they should do so quickly. According to the 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), 25 percent of federal employee respondents expressed intent to retire during the next five years, with four percent intending to retire in the next year. This massive workforce shift not only necessitates more robust recruitment efforts to backfill the government’s aging workforce, but also the expansion of employee development programs to groom future leaders, ensure knowledge transfer, and promote employee satisfaction.

Importance of the employee experience

Leading employers are focusing on the “employee experience” to differentiate themselves in the talent market. To remain competitive and achieve mission objectives, an understanding of employee experience, the tools necessary to enact it, and its importance to potential and existing employees, is essential for government agencies.

In principle, employee experience is about designing and delivering employee services—from sourcing and onboarding to performance management—in a manner that puts the employees’ needs first. Many organizations view these services in silos, as a set of discrete tasks without consideration of the entire employee lifecycle or the desires of the employee. Despite the simplicity of the concept, the importance of experience should not be underestimated. Companies like Uber that effectively harness the nexus of customer experience and the ease of digital have changed the landscape of the automotive transportation industry. Today’s consumer values tools that similarly emphasize ease and efficiency—and agencies should take note. Well-executed and employee experience-centric human resource programs can be powerful tools for attracting, empowering, and retaining employees.

Millennials, who are quickly becoming the largest generational percentage of the workforce, are chief among of the users of platforms like Uber and other digital, experience-driven providers. With just seven percent of full-time federal workers under the age of 30 (compared with 25 percent in the private sector) it is unsurprising that federal agencies are amongst the lowest ranking employers of millennials. This is despite millennials’ documented preferences to work in mission-oriented environments and receive telework benefits that are common in government. Many agencies can do more to appeal to this employee demographic and others who place value in ease, efficiency, and empowerment in their employment.

Case for change

Organizations that treat HR as a differentiating part of their brand–and treat their employees as they would the citizens/customers they serve–tend to have the most success in improving employee experience. In today’s world of digital mobility and social media, for many employees this means use of digital engagement when interacting with their potential or current employer. Agencies can enhance their talent brand by using social media and digital technologies that mirror other life experiences. And, those that do will become more competitive in the war for talent as they harness and incorporate digital mobility trends.

HR technology as an enabler
Consolidation of HR data that is easily accessible and transferrable can contribute to an agency’s brand by appealing to high-performing millennials, while also strengthening business processes. Using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms like Salesforce can help streamline processes across the talent lifecycle, as transferring data across systems helps to prevent employee and HR re-work. This consolidation of HR information also provides the foundation for additional digital and behavioral analytics for data-driven decision-making. For example, by collecting data at the beginning of the application process, HR is able to match potential employees to the best position in order to achieve employee retention through both engagement and mission success. Additionally, HR is better able to capture, analyze, and predict employee behaviors with a digitally consolidated HR solution in an effort to improve retention rates and to reduce costs associated with turnover and onboarding.

New CRM solutions
CRM technology solutions provide HR teams with a platform that can positively impact employee experience. These solutions, in contrast to legacy systems, reduce back-end maintenance, allowing agencies to spend more time focused on effective solution development and deployment. Automated process flows and centralized documentation create an efficient experience for HR administrators and employees alike, with capabilities such as easy-to-access repositories of knowledge management articles and self-help tools. Due to the simplicity and user-friendly nature of these systems direct access by HR customers, such as hiring managers in different lines of business, is possible without the intervention of HR staff. This helps provide employees, managers, and candidates with a greater sense of autonomy while also relieving workload burdens from HR personnel, allowing them to focus more attention on serving the strategic business needs of their customers. Multiple channels of interaction, including desktop, mobile, and live chat often supported by these CRM platforms, offer users the type of effective digital experience to which they’ve become accustomed through other highly used digital services.

Salesforce and the employee experience
Deloitte began working with Salesforce, the world’s #1 CRM20 system, as a go-to-market partner in 2006, forming a Global Alliance in 2010. Salesforce offers many of the technical functionalities needed to drive a positive employee experience. The following descriptions of some of the common phases in the employee journey show how Salesforce can be used as the underlying platform to empower employees’ use of HR services.

Source: Talent Acquisition Revisited: Deploy New Approaches for the New Battlefield, Deloitte Insights

Nearly 45 percent of job candidates search for positions on their mobile phone

Putting it all together

Salesforce offers several solutions to help Federal agencies overcome changing HR requirements and enhance the employee experience. Streamlining HR technology by leveraging a platform to integrate HR systems can alleviate administrative burden from both HR staff, employees, and applicants, allowing more time to focus on mission duties. It also offers a consolidated and centralized solution, which not only helps minimize the amount of administrative obligation for HR activities across the talent lifecycle, but also contributes to an effective employer brand.

In order to begin the process of implementing an improved HR technology system, agencies should consider the costs and benefits of various technology solutions to determine what path best suits its needs, inclusive of operations and maintenance costs for existing systems. Look at your organizations’ business case—do you have the assets you need to meet your strategic objectives? If attracting, hiring, and retaining the right employees is the key to mission success, Salesforce is a tool that can help you achieve those goals.​

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