Federal Workforce: Key Talent Management Strategies for Agencies to Better Fulfill Their Missions

What the GAO found

Federal work is changing due to demographic and technological trends (see figure below).

Key Trends Affecting Federal Labor

Given these trends, key talent management strategies can help agencies better manage the current and future workforce. These strategies all fall under existing agency powers:

Align human capital strategy with current and future mission requirements. With changing attitudes about work, advances in technology, and increased reliance on non-federal partners, organizations need to identify the knowledge and skills needed to meet current and future demands. Key practices include identifying and assessing existing skills, competencies and skills gaps.

Acquire and assign talents. To ensure that agencies have the talent capacity to respond to changing mission demands and negative perceptions of federal work (for example, that it is too bureaucratic), agencies can cultivate a diverse talent pool, highlight their respective missions, recruit at the start of the school year, support rotations, and assign talent where needed.

Incentivize and compensate employees. While federal agencies may struggle to offer competitive wages in some labor markets, they can take advantage of existing incentives that appeal to workers’ desire to set a schedule and work in locations that offer work- personal life.

Engage employees. Engaged employees are more productive and less likely to leave, according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Agencies can better ensure that their workforce is engaged by managing employee performance, involving employees in decisions, and developing employees.

Why GAO Did This Study

Much has changed since the federal government’s employment policies were designed generations ago. Without careful attention to the strategic management of human capital, the federal government may continue to struggle to attract workers with the skills needed to meet the nation’s social, economic, and security challenges.

The GAO has been asked to consider issues related to the future of federal labor and the workforce. This report identifies: (1) key trends affecting labor and federal workers, and (2) key talent management strategies for achieving a high-performing workforce, given these trends.

GAO analyzed data from OPM and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and reviewed reports from GAO, OPM, and selected think tanks. GAO also held focus group interviews with agency human capital directors and interviewed human capital experts and representatives of federal unions, managers, and executives. In addition, GAO spoke with private consulting firms and foreign governments about human capital strategies that officials believed were helpful in improving their organizations.

Comments are closed.