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Symposium: Workforce change should consider employee experience

In September, business leaders, human capital experts and federal leaders gathered for a White House symposium to discuss human resources issues surrounding the President's Management Agenda. One core idea from the discussion and its associated report was that any changes made to the federal workplace should take the employee experience into account as much as business needs.

"If you lose your employees, if you lose their hearts and minds, it doesn't matter what you do," said a participant from MITRE Corporation, which produced a report on the symposium recently.

The discussion centered around four topics:

  • People's relationship with technology
  • The need to help employees upskill or reskill to adapt and grow as the nature of the work changes
  • Reconsidering all aspects of performance management, including compensation
  • Necessary reforms to the modern civil service

Nine recommendations were made to address federal workforce challenges:

1. Increasing the use of talent exchange programs

2. Expanding the use of critical hiring authorities

3. Developing evidence-based HR strategies using data science

4. Expanding development partnerships and the use of apprenticeships

5. Building training and reskilling into technology procurements

6. Collaborating with unions on initiatives with shared interests and clear outcomes

7. Establishing a talent marketplace to enhance opportunities for mobility

8. Developing managers who can provide effective, ongoing coaching and feedback

9. Exploring ways to align compensation with performance and value

The recommendations weren't ordered by priority, but more along the lines of ease of implementation. In some cases, authorities already exist and simply need to be leveraged, said the MITRE participant.

For example, the Intergovernmental Personnel Act allows the government to pull in expertise from government-related organizations and provides special hiring and pay authorities.

The report noted that the existing General Schedule system simply isn't designed to reward individual employee performance, although it noted that addressing that could prove challenging.

The group also emphasized the importance of unions and labor organizations being part of the workforce decision-making process, despite recent efforts by the administration to reduce union participation and activities.

MITRE and other organizations that participated in the symposium will now collaborate with the Office of Management and Budget to research and test options for approaching challenges in the federal workforce.

Whenever major changes are made to workforce development and management, there are bound to be workers whose interests fall to the wayside. The fact that there are winners and losers after policy changes does not mean that the change was illegitimate, but there are situations when protected employee rights are affected. If you believe your rights have been violated by a policy change in your workplace, discuss your situation with an attorney familiar with federal employment law.

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