Federal Workforce: Talent Management Strategies to Help Agencies Compete in a Tight Labor Market

What the GAO found

Outdated approaches to personnel functions such as job classification, compensation, and performance management hinder agencies’ ability to recruit, retain, and develop employees. At the same time, agency operations are profoundly affected by a set of evolving trends in federal work, including how work is done and the skills employees need to accomplish the missions of the agency. agency.

Key Trends Affecting Federal Labor

Given these challenges and trends, federal organizations will need to apply talent management strategies such as the following:

Align human capital strategy with current and future mission requirements. Agencies 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 the appropriate capacity exists to meet changing mission demands, agencies can utilize internships, cultivate a diverse talent pool, highlight their respective missions, and recruit at the start of the school year.

Incentivize and compensate employees. While 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 hours and work in locations that offer work-life balance. and privacy.

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 employees are engaged by managing their performance, involving them in decisions and ensuring staff development.

Why GAO Did This Study

The federal workforce is critical to the ability of federal agencies to meet the complex social, economic and security challenges facing the country. However, the federal government faces long-standing challenges in the strategic management of its workforce. We first added strategic federal human capital management to our list of high-risk government programs and operations in 2001. Although Congress, the OPM, and individual agencies have made improvements since then, management Federal human capital remains a high-risk area because the mission criticizes skills gaps within the federal workforce as posing a high risk to the country.

This story focuses on (1) key hiring and human capital management challenges facing federal agencies, and (2) talent management strategies identified from previous GAO work that agencies can use to be more attractive employers in a tight labor market.

This testimony is based on GAO’s extensive body of work on federal human capital management published primarily between July 2014 and July 2019. To conduct these studies, GAO reviewed government-wide employment data and interviewed OPM officials and subject matter experts from think tanks, universities, government employee unions and other fields.

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