Employee Engagement: When Does it Start?

Last month I was fortengagement-blog-pic-2unate to spend time with Brent Pearson, founder of Enboarder (and former Monster Government Solutions Managing Director) as he made his whirlwind tour through the US to talk with companies and federal agencies about the latest research in Employee Engagement and Onboarding. Enboarder and HRworx hosted a breakfast event last month in DC, Rethink Employee Engagement and Onboarding, where Brent highlighted the impact of Millennials in the workplace and what they expect from employers, and the role onboarding plays in the engagement process.

The research has shown that for candidates being recruited, they reach a very high level of engagement around the point the offer is made, and it can rise and continue to rise through a positive onboarding experience with a connection to the hiring manager; or it can decline and continue to spiral downward with impersonal communications that are task focused.

The graphic below depicts this disparity in new hire engagement depending on the type of preboarding and onboarding process experienced by the new hire. In a previous blog, Onboarding: Hiring Manager’s Playbook, I ask about whether there is a toolkit or ‘playbook’ for hiring managers to understand how important their direct involvement is in the onboarding process for building new hire engagement.

 

Engagement and the Employee Lifecycle

The research confirms a couple of things. Hiring Managers who seldom hire need coaching, guidance, or a toolkit to support them in being a great hiring manager to represent your organization well! Millennials expect a high degree of communication and want lots of details about the role, and also value being welcomed into an organization.

During the breakfast event in October on Employee Engagement and Onboarding, Brent Pearson shared the type of communications that can easily be facilitated between new hires and hiring managers through Enboarder. Imagine if you were a hiring manager and you had a virtual coach prompting you throughout the preboarding process on communications that the new hire would enthusiastically welcome. The virtual coach also sends prompts via text or emails that are prepopulated with the information to make that manager look like a rock star.

Virtual Coach for Hiring Manager:

A message might say, “Great news Bob – your new hire, Angela, just accepted the offer and will begin on Nov 15! She might really like it if you congratulated her on accepting. If you’d like to call, click here (123) 456-7890 (prepopulated with new hire’s cell number) or if you prefer sending a text message, click here to send “Congratulations Angela. I just heard you accepted the offer and will be starting on 11/15. We’re looking forward to having you join the team!”

Through a workflow developed for a particular role or position type, the Enboarder technology prompts hiring managers and other stakeholders to build engagement through communications during preboarding and onboarding.

What I’ve heard about Employee Engagement from many agencies is that a) it’s a top priority to improve; and b) the focus is on current agency employees, and little is mentioned around onboarding and how it impacts new hire engagement. Maybe its time to ‘Rethink Onboarding’ and realize the onboarding process needs to be more than what we experienced as new hires entering an organization.

Top 7 Ways to Rethink Onboarding

  1. Onboarding is the responsibility of the hiring manager and supported by HR and other departments
  2. Design onboarding to create an engaging experience. Wow the new employee
  3. Choreograph a new dance and coach the managers on how to lead
  4. Generation Y offers a lot – understand their strengths and listen to them
  5. Share a new employee’s strengths with the organization
  6. One size does not fit all – tailor the onboarding process
  7. Experiment, measure and constantly optimize

If your agency doesn’t have an Onboarding Process for new hires that includes direction and assistance for the hiring manager to build new hire engagement through a Wow onboarding experience, make sure you’ve got the right tools and support in place for your hiring managers. With automation, you can ensure the tactical and compliance factors around onboarding are completed gracefully and reliably. Plus, an automated Onboarding system such as HRworx Onboarding, can easily be configured to automate each step of your onboarding process.

I wish I could say that using tools such as those provided by Enboarder and HRworx would fix new hire engagement challenges and all problems would be resolved! Using a virtual coach for hiring managers is a great tool, but what about the day-to-day communications once the new hire has started? Its possible that hiring managers may need some training in how to manage millennials to help bridge the generation gap in terms of expectations and factors that drive them to excel and perform.

Without question the breakfast event last month, Rethink Employee Engagement and Onboarding was insightful and the information provided made a solid argument for the importance of the onboarding process. If you heard about the event but were unable to attend and would like to see the materials, contact me for the presentation.  To get a peek at the research referenced in the presentation linking engagement to onboarding, click here to see Professor Dan Cable present research highlights.

Shout out to Brent Pearson from Enboarder and Rob Hankey from HRworx who allowed me to share the slides from the breakfast event in October.   They are seeking agencies willing to pilot a new onboarding process to get clear ROI data demonstrating the positive impact on new hire engagement. If you’re interested in discussing a pilot,  email me and I’ll get you in touch with the right people who can answer your questions and help you explore how to shape a 12-week pilot for positive ROI on new hire engagement. Till the next time, relook at your current processes and think about new approaches for employee onboarding!

Onboarding: Hiring Manager’s Playbook

engage-onboard

Do the hiring managers in your organization have a ‘Playbook’ for onboarding and enculturating new hires into the organization?  Sure, hiring managers are involved in the hiring process and certainly select the candidate for the role they’re hiring.  Once the selection is made, what is the hiring manager’s playbook for engaging prospective new hires between selection and Day 1; and then over the first 90-180 days?   With such awareness around employee engagement ratings, its important for hiring managers to understand how their involvement in onboarding a new hire drives the new hire’s engagement, and ultimately prospects for performance and retention.

Most research on employee engagement shows there are so many variables that impact engagement, but the strongest factors impacting engagement are the direct manager and the onboarding experience.  There is so much focus on the new hire, but not all hiring managers know the ropes when it comes to onboarding their new hire.  It seems to be expected that hiring managers know what to do, but I’d be willing to place a wager that across any size organization, hiring managers would value a ‘tool kit’ with best practices of how to onboard their new hires.  Ultimately, the hiring manager has the most to gain from having a highly productive and successful new hire – employee.

For federal agencies, the reality is that the protracted time between when the hiring need was identified and the new hire first day can range from 60 days to 300+ days.  The hiring organization wants the new hire to have a positive onboarding experience, but over time, the excitement about adding new talent turns to frustration about security process or delays prior to Day 1 on the job.  For the new hire, the anticipation of the role and possibilities for career development fade over time while waiting for updates about when the role will start.  The new hires’ level of engagement begins to diminish before becoming an employee!

There is more data showing the link between the new hire onboarding experience and employee engagement.  With a drawn-out period of time from recruiting to Day 1 on the job, why not leverage that period to engage the recruit-candidate-new hire with valuable information about the culture of your organization.  Research by the Aberdeen Group shows that 62 percent of companies  that have a solidified onboarding program experience faster time-to-productivity with 54 percent claiming to have better employee engagement.

Back to the idea of a Hiring Manager Playbook for onboarding new hires.  I’ve searched online looking for ‘Hiring Manager Toolkit’ to see what resources are available, but didn’t find much available.  But through my network I learned about a candidate/new hire engagement tool called Enboarder (will work with your ATS and Onboarding system) that really captures Millennials and works in their comfort zone.  After seeing a couple of demo’s, admittedly I was smitten.  A series of bitly links launch rich media branded messages, videos and any other content desired, are sent via text or email to the new hire and hiring manager.  When it comes to a playbook for hiring managers, this is a home run!  A ‘virtual coach’ for the hiring manager provides guidance and suggestions throughout the onboarding process to hiring managers, making them look great in the eyes of the new hire.  The coaching action is also facilitated by Enboarder to enable the hiring manager to press a button and the virtual coach guidance has been implemented!  It’s also incredibly powerful to use in the recruitment process to keep candidates, especially Millennials, engaged rather than drop out due to lack of communication.

The Enboarder team, including the founder Brent Pearson, is making a whirlwind tour through Chicago, New York, Washington DC and San Francisco in October.  They encouraged me to share the invitation to the free Breakfast Learn session in DC appropriately called:  Rethink Employee Engagement and Onboarding by Leveraging Scientific Research and Technology.  They’ll demo Enboarder with the HRworx Onboarding system.  If you’re based in DC, I encourage you to attend this event and build the business case you need to rethink your onboarding process!  Just click here to see the invite and register.

Think for a moment about your first day on the job (current role or past role), and what that first day was like and even the whole week.  Was it everything you thought it would be?  How involved was your hiring manager in that experience?   As times have changed and new technologies have emerged, it seems that some things never change.  Relationships and connections to people really count!

Till next time …

New Hire Engagement!

onboarding-blog2In my recent blog posts, I’ve opined about Federal recruiting challenges and highlighted new and innovative tools and technologies to support the overall recruiting effort.   As technology has developed and recruitment advertising / online media has advanced, so too have the holders of the budget who expect to have information on anticipated Return on Investment (ROI) tied to the budget request.  In looking at the end-to-end recruiting and onboarding process, I’m beginning to question the value of providing “ROI” data such as the number of clicks or views on particular online media posts.  More on that in a minute.

If your agency has invested resources and money on building a candidate pipeline through recruitment branding, social media, and digital advertising – it’s time to think about the next steps to ensure retention and engagement.  New hires, particularly Millennials want to know about career development opportunities and the learning opportunities they’ll get on the job and with the agency.  To spend the money to get candidates in the door, and then not have a formalized process to acculturate them to the agency is pointless. The window of time between signed offer letter and Day 1 on the job is the ‘golden window’ to build employee engagement and secure retention through your new hire.  It seems counter-intuitive to be worried about engagement and retention before the new hire has even started!  But the research reinforces how critical this time is – particularly with Millennials.

My husband is a federal employee and after 25 years with an agency, he transferred to another agency for an opportunity that provided more career growth.  Between the time he was offered the job and his Day 1 on the job, he impatiently waited to hear any news or updates on the status of his clearance and when he could start.  In that 6-month window, he found himself searching the web for more information about the agency and anything that could help him build a connection.  His initial enthusiasm about the opportunity started to fade, without any word from the new agency he found himself wondering if the job was real or if the hiring manager had changed his mind.  Once he did finally get started, he was longing for tools or resources to help him perform on the job without being dependent on others for the basics.

Put away the traditional thoughts about EOD and orientation.  Preboarding and Onboarding encompass more than compliance driven forms.  Preboarding is the period between new hire acceptance of the job offer and the official start date.  Onboarding is the process of integrating and acculturating new hires into the agency and providing them with the tools, resources and information to be successful and productive – and has been provide to reduce ‘time-to-productivity’, reduce turnover and ultimately create higher employee engagement.

Top 6 Reasons for Establishing an Onboarding Program:

  • Studies show that over 80% of new hires make a decision to remain with an organization within the first six months of employment.
  • Preboarding can reduce early turnover – preboarding activities can increase first-year retention by as much as 80%
  • Google research shows that reminding the hiring manager to set up the first day gets new hires up to speed 25% faster
  • It takes an average of 8 months for a new employee to become fully productive – providing learning activities and goals for 30/60/90 days helps accelerate new hire to productivity
  • 69% of employees are more likely to stay with an organization for three years if they experienced great onboarding
  • Organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50% greater new hire retention

If recruiting and hiring Millennials is part of your agency’s overall recruitment strategy – Preboarding and Onboarding should be key aspects of your overall Talent strategy.  The research tells the whole story.  Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce in just four years, and 75% of the workforce in less than ten years!   In the federal sector, Millennials only comprise 7% of the workforce.  Millennials expect more than just a job – they will be drawn to an agency touting a 6-9-month onboarding program that includes developmental experiences, mentoring and training.

When I’ve talked with Federal HR leaders, there is recognition that not all hiring managers onboard new hires the same, resulting in vastly different new hire experiences.  OPM established Onboarding Communities of Practice with resources shared by agencies including orientation agenda, new employee survey, EOD agency, checklists and more.

Beyond the traditional ‘orientation’, Onboarding Programs can be so much more comprehensive and include on-the-job experiences, ‘buddy’ program, peer feedback and coaching, and structured Day 1 activities.  With any structured Preboarding and Onboarding Program, having an automated workflow capability to provide reminders and trigger events will ensure activities don’t fall to the sidelines because people get busy or forget.

5 Best Practices for an Onboarding Program

  • Begin acculturation to the agency during preboarding period
  • Automate the forms process for new hires to complete forms prior to Day 1
  • Establish role clarity and learning opportunities within first 30 days
  • Create training plan and provide developmental experiences with opportunities for feedback within first 90 days
  • Provide tools to prompt hiring managers with actions to acclimate new hire and resources for the new hire to become self-sufficient more quickly

Acquiring talent is an investment in the future human capital of the agency.  Engage this talent through communications that resemble ‘recruiting’ and demonstrate the agency commitment to the New Hire with an Onboarding Program that reflects learning and development activities; opportunities for feedback and training.  Resources that help the new hire succeed are invaluable in building engagement as new hires don’t like being dependent on others and want to feel competent enough to complete basic tasks such as logon to the agency system; submit time; access a leave and earnings statement; and most of all want to know clearly what the expectations are for the job.

Back to my earlier question about the value of providing “ROI” data such as the number of clicks or views on particular online media posts.  Focusing on candidate engagement and retention through the end to end hiring process inspires the top candidates to stay in the game until the hiring decision is made.  Establishing a Preboarding and Onboarding program that starts once the offer letter is signed, and continues through the first 90-180 days will provide the ROI that counts!  You can measure new hire engagement and see the impact of this early investment in their acculturation to your agency.

In my next blog, I’m going to highlight technology that makes onboarding an engaging experience and ensures consistency in your onboarding process.  It even has a ‘virtual coach’ to provide the reminders and suggestions to hiring managers about onboarding their new hire!

Federal Recruiting Innovation – The Latest Tools

talentIn this week’s blog, I’ll wrap up the three-part series about solving federal talent recruitment challenges. This is no easy task, of course, especially with limited government resources and time. Let’s take a deeper look at solutions that enable you to focus on the candidates who most closely match your requirements, versus everyone that applies.

Assessments: Finding the Needle in the Haystack

The most salient point I can make about talent is that given the choice between a) a pipeline with 5000 applicants screened only by questions in the application; or b) a list of 75 applicants screened by external assessments such as a Realistic Job Preview; personality assessment based on key traits aligned with the job requirements; and/or simulation; I would pick b and take the much smaller pool of candidates who have been thoroughly screened.

Why? Attracting candidates isn’t the problem. Attracting qualified candidates is. I’d rather get to the people I may want to hire faster — before they’re off the market — and leave the unqualified candidates for a future better matching role or for someone else. These are some of my favorite screening tools:

  • Realistic Job Preview (RJP) – For positions with high volume hiring, using a Realistic Job Preview (RJP) is a great strategy for screening out candidates who aren’t going to be a good fit or are more likely to turnover in the first six months. Often developed by talent assessment firms, the RJP can come in many forms. For the current job market — and to attract Millennials — online videos have high receptivity among candidates, as they provide a preview of the good, the bad, and the ugly about the role. This gives candidates a great way to decide whether to move forward based on a deeper understanding about the role than they get from just the traditional, written vacancy announcement. The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) successfully uses the RJP for two high volume hiring roles.
  • Job simulation – Creating a job simulation for high volume hiring roles is a great way to assess candidate capabilities and fit for the job. A simulation also enables candidates to experience the role to determine whether to move forward in the application process. The Merit Systems Protection Board has written papers about the effectiveness of simulation tools as effective assessments in the screening process for federal jobs. To see an example of an online job simulation developed by Aon,   contact me and I will email you a link.
  • Online assessments – Assessments for high volume roles or for a single position are a highly effective way to screen for traits, characteristics and attributes needed to be successful on the job. Many firms offer screening assessments online for all levels and types of positions. They can be sent to the candidate once he has applied and meets minimum qualifications.Most assessments are easily integrated into the applicant tracking system (ATS) or through USAJobs. Using a computer adaptive test ensures that test items are randomly generated so that each candidate has a different assessment experience and questions can’t be shared. If you’ve been using an assessment that isn’t computer adaptive, you might want to search on YouTube to see if the assessment questions have been shared from a previous candidate. Firms like PDRI and Aon, both considered leaders in the field of talent assessment, have a wide offering of off-the-shelf assessments as well as options for custom assessments.

Interviewing: expediting the Process Virtually

For recruiters and hiring managers, the interview process is tedious and time consuming – yet a critical step in the hiring process! One of my favorite interview tools is HireVue, a leading on demand digital interviewing platform among a variety of solutions on the market. When you want and need convenience and consistency, digital interviews allow you to develop a set of questions for a vacancy and send all candidates the link to record a response to each question.

If you’re in HR and working with a hiring manager that travels extensively or has a full schedule, imagine having the ability to watch video interviews on your smart phone (or computer) of candidates responding to consistent questions and being able to forward the interviews to the hiring manager or other team members.

Most candidates say they would prefer meeting with a hiring manager in person. However, given the choice between doing a video interview to expedite the hiring process versus waiting an extended time to be scheduled for an interview, candidates are far more interested in and engaged with an expedited process! And, Millennials in particular are big fans of using technology.

CRM – Candidate Relationship Management

For several years, the concept of Customer Relationship Management has been applied to the recruiting arena. The many solutions on the market enable organizations to manage, track, and engage with candidates. Potential employers also can use the systems to run targeted email campaigns, communicating with specific candidates about roles that may be of interest or providing content to keep them “warm” for upcoming hiring needs. A CRM typically allows for scheduling of emails based on talent pipeline membership, which can be particularly advantageous for high volume hiring, or at specific times.

We hope you found these ideas useful! If you didn’t catch our prior blogs, you might be interested in part 2 in particular, which was focused on some of the most innovative recruiting tools and resources on the market.

Thanks for dropping by! We’ll continue to share ideas, solutions and best practices for recruiting and hiring talent. If you have any area of interest you’d like to see us address or any questions, feel free to  contact me .

Please share this with colleagues who may be interested – and thanks again!  By the way, I am late with this blog as I just returned from a cooking and wine tour in Italy – but now I’ll be back on schedule again!

Ciao!

Cecelia

Federal Talent: Connecting the Dots (Part 2)

blogpic4Since I started this two-part blog series on solving federal recruitment challenges, I’ve been so excited about this particular blog to have the platform to share a wide range of innovative tools and resources for recruiting.  In most cases, I’ll provide a link for you to more thoroughly check out these great resources for yourself.

I’d like to share a  point of clarification before we begin.  Whether it’s a myth or urban legend, I’m repeatedly told that federal hiring regulations preclude HR from reaching out to prospective candidates on LinkedIn (or any other source) to direct recruit by sharing the agency mission and presenting a job they might want to explore.  This is not true – as long as direct sourcing and recruiting activities occur before the vacancy is posted to USAJobs.  What does this mean for your agency?  If you have a position that has been challenging to fill, you can go online and start searching for candidates!

Vacancy Announcements — Scoring for Effectiveness

There are so many compelling recruiting tools and resources available. I had to choose, however, so I decided to highlight those that have caught my eye.  Let’s start at the beginning with the vacancy announcement.  Have you read some of the announcements on USAJobs? Oh my – there’s often so much govspeak language that most people outside of government wouldn’t understand what they were reading.  To attract those outside of government, including Millennials, the vacancy announcement should engage the reader with descriptive language about the role, expectations, and requirements.  The language should be clear and easy to understand.

That said, there also are words or phrases in job descriptions that can show an unintended bias.  Women and minorities may read certain words that then cause them to unconsciously view the job as a poor fit.  Companies such as Unitive and Textio provide software that identifies potentially biased phrases and words associated with gender stereotypes, and provides new words to use instead.  Subtleties in words used in a vacancy announcement can push great candidates away without your knowledge.  Textio, for example, will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of your vacancy announcement and score the strength of your announcement overall.

All the Buzz:  Social Media

Once your vacancy announcement is ready —but before it is posted live on USAJobs and any other job sites —it’s important to make sure you’re developing, engaging and growing your candidate talent pool.  Connect with your agency social media team for guidance about the most effective use of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest (yes – Pinterest for recruiting!), YouTube and other channels.  Leveraging social media, within the framework of your agency’s policies, is part of a long-term strategy best used for building employer brand awareness and developing a talent pool to draw upon for future opportunities.

In addition, I suggest you make sure you know what’s being posted about your agency online. Have you checked out your agency’s profile on GlassDoor to see what candidates are saying?  Candidates can be brutally honest about their experiences in exploring an opportunity with any organization, and often share their perspectives with other potential candidates online.

Here are a few more innovative tools and platforms that pertain to social media:

  • If you’ve gotten frustrated searching on LinkedIn, Twitter or other social media platforms for candidate profiles tied to particular skill sets, an easy tool (that’s also free!) is called Recruit’em. You can select the social network to search, and it provides search terms and conducts a Google search that results in profiles that meet your criteria.  I tried it and I love seeing a familiar search list from Google as well as the ability to save the search for later.  Did I mention it’s free?
  • Social recruiting platforms such as Bullhorn Reach and Jobvite Engage simplify the process for posting vacancies on social media sites and job boards. They provide an easy way to create and manage talent pools of prospective candidates. Jobvite, among other products, also has a tool to power employee referrals and sharing across employee social networks!  No one knows your culture and needs better than your own employees, so cultivating referrals from existing employees is a great way to build the talent pool!

Predictive Tools: A Glimpse into the Future!

One of the most innovative (and most out of the box thinking) recruiting tools I’ve seen is from a company called HowToHire.Me.  I’ll explain it this way:

  • Start with the premise that most organizations want to hire highly qualified, motivated, inspired and engaged candidates; and that candidates generally want to find meaningful purpose driven work where they can make a contribution.
  • Every person is so much more than the words on the resume. Think about a genome as an organism’s complete set of DNA and all the information needed to build that organism.
  • With that in mind, HowToHire.Me created the SuccessGenome™, which considers all factors that enable a job match with a high degree of predictive capability to ensure the candidate will be a high performer within the organization’s culture. They developed a platform that uses leading edge neural systems and artificial intelligence to discover, assemble, and verify candidates.

I’ve met with the founders multiple times and each time walk away realizing that eventually the day will come where resumes will no longer exist.  With multiple applications for the SuccessGenome, it’s pretty exciting what lies ahead!

I hope that Part 2 of this blog series provided some insights on tools and resources available to use for your recruiting.  In Part 3 of this blog series, the wrap up on tools and resources, we’ll cover topics such as assessments, interviewing and more!  Plus, we’ll share our results from our recent poll, so stay tuned.  For any organization, there isn’t a template to follow using tools and resources that will work for all recruiting needs.  But they can enhance the effectiveness of how you execute against your overall recruitment strategy.

Please take a moment, if you haven’t already, to give us your thoughts in that poll (below)  below, and in our comments if you’d like. You can register for our blog below.

Thank you for reading! See you next time.

Cecelia

 

 

 

 

Federal Talent: Connecting the Dots

In my last blog, I asked this question about federal recruiting: “Is it working?” In part one of this two-part blog series, we’ll stand back and take a look at the bigger talent picture, as well as some important considerations for reaching an ulblog 2 pic 2timate solution for federal recruiting. And, we’ll highlight how to address some of the key federal hiring issues. With the vast array of best practices for building talent pools, sourcing highly qualified candidates, and hiring (and retaining) candidates, the systemic use of HR staff augmentation consultants to source and hire candidates for full-time positions is not really needed.

You’ve probably heard about the looming retirement wave for federal employees. In 2017, the largest percentage of federal employees will reach retirement eligibility as 31% (yep – that’s about one-third) of the federal workforce will be retirement eligible at that time. Juxtaposed against that is the population of Millennials entering the federal workforce. While you might think this percentage would be on the rise, unfortunately only about 7% of the federal workforce is currently 30 or younger — and the percentage has been on the decline. So, we have federal employees (many with mission critical skills and knowledge) leaving the workforce for retirement in a big wave, and filling that gap is the Millennial population entering the federal workforce in a small ripple. If the balance doesn’t change, the 2017 retirement wave will create an impact closer to a retirement tsunami!

Elevating the issue

Federal recruiting and retention is by no means a new problem or challenge.   In 2001, the GAO (Government Accountability Office) identified human capital management, including the capacity to recruit and retain a workforce, as a government-wide high-risk area. Reports in subsequent years have continued to address this risk factor.

With this important issue in mind, numerous initiatives have focused on developing innovative approaches to recruiting and hiring. In 2004, the Partnership for Public Service launched The Extreme Hiring Makeover, piloting different approaches for hiring with three participating agencies: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Education (ED), and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). In 2010, there was a Presidential Memorandum titled “Improving the Federal Recruitment and Hiring Process”. Since then, OPM has introduced the Hiring Excellence campaign and roadshow to help agencies connect with top talent. Those programs just scratch the surface of all the federal recruitment and hiring initiatives launched over the years.

After more than 15 years of initiatives, studies, and demonstration pilots, it’s time to fix federal talent issues. Now is the time to bring top talent to the federal workforce, and finally delight hiring managers with the quality of their new hires.

5 Ideas to Resolve Federal Recruiting and Talent Challenges

With no shortage of innovative solutions, tools and resources available to support federal recruitment and hiring initiatives, there has to be a way to link the “solutions” moreblog 2 pic 1 closely to the “agencies in need”. Below are recommendations for making that a reality:

  1. Strategic view: Agencies must take the long term view by focusing on hiring beyond short term requirements, dealing with the retirement bubble, addressing Millennial workforce recruiting issues — and do so within the structure of federal hiring regulations, available hiring authorities, and veterans’ preference criteria. In addition, agencies must continue to consider costs of turnover, rehiring and training. This calls for developing agency-wide talent strategies.
  2. Do your homework: Now more than ever, it is important to develop an understanding of commercial best practices and successful federal agency best practices. Get to know the tools, resources and innovative strategies your internal or outsourced teams should be using.
  3. Drive innovation: Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your HR team and look for contractor/consultant support to supplement existing recruiting and staffing capabilities. These resources can be invaluable for working with you to drive innovative processes as well as to pilot new tools and strategies.
  4. Partner with procurement/acquisition resources for best contracting results: When seeking contractor support, work closely with the acquisition team to identify best options for contracting. Explore performance-based contracting to focus on achieving specific outcomes.
  5. Understand long-term impact of short-term cost savings: Through procurement processes, contractors often interpret the selection criteria of best value to mean lowest price wins. This pushes contractors to leverage less experienced consultants to reach lower rate categories. For a federal agency with significant challenges around talent and recruiting, the missed opportunity may arise from selecting the low cost contractor in lieu of the small (or large) business that brings innovative thinking coupled with leading edge tools and technology for solving federal talent issues.

In the next blog, I’ll highlight a series of innovative recruiting tools and resources that have applicability in the federal sector. These will include some of the more common applications and tools available, such as video interviewing, a wide range of assessment applications, and even technology that uses artificial intelligence to find highly qualified new hires most likely to perform at a high level in your organization. Stay tuned for more!

To receive our next blog via email, sign up below.  In the meantime, please take a moment to answer a quick poll about who should lead the charge to find a solution for federal recruiting and hiring. I’ll share the results next in our next blog.

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Federal Recruiting: Is it working?

wearehiring imageIt’s no secret that many Federal agencies struggle with recruiting candidates.  Skills gaps and shortages of qualified applicants in mission critical positions such as cyber security and STEM positions are pushing some to ‘think outside the box’ when trying to recruit top talent the Federal sector. Good news, positive changes are taking shape — and will be highlighted here. However, some of the most impactful approaches that could apply to Federal recruiting have yet to reach the federal sector in a significant way.

Recruitment advertising firms help many agencies  position their recruitment brands as well as to increase awareness and exposure. That’s important progress that enables an agency to reach a broad candidate population. However, in meetings with Federal HR leaders, I’ve heard more times than I can count “attracting candidates isn’t a problem for us”, and the sentence that usually follows is, “our challenge is finding qualified candidates that meet the requirements and that our hiring managers want to select.”  So, to address such challenges, many agencies hire contractors to help them with staffing and hiring.

Is this all working? What’s missing? And, where can federal agencies adjust to get better outcomes? We’ll share some ideas in a moment.

Steps in the right direction –

The serious nature of gaps in mission critical skill areas has brought increased attention to the topic and will continue to do so. Federal leaders compete for talent against the private sector, which is often regarded as more attractive due to higher pay, incentives like stock grants and signing bonuses, faster hiring processes, as well as appealing work with leading edge companies. Federal leaders are making positive steps in their push for significant change where they can do so, such as in the following ways:

  • In the last 6 months, language in RFP’s and RFQ’s from agencies needing recruiting and hiring support are slowly starting to include technology requirements such as mobile apply; automated onboarding (and off boarding) with integration to the eOPF from OPM; and online assessments to screen out unqualified candidates; and on the services side, for the contractor to demonstrate ability to effectively leverage special hiring authorities that can expedite the recruiting process, to name a few.
  • In recent years, many federal agencies are making investments in their recruitment brand to make their employment environments and jobs more appealing. And, more are using recruitment advertising firms to increase exposure with digital media and social media initiatives – particularly for reaching the Millennial audience.

4 tips for more effective federal recruiting and hiring talentsearch image

While a variety of changes taking place over recent years are beginning to chisel away at the problems, perhaps the greatest opportunities reside in strategic advancements that have been happening in the private sector.

  1. Proactive sourcing: Imagine that you have a team of people working for you, combing networks and the online world to identify candidates that could be a great fit for your agency based upon their skills and experience — and then doing the outreach to them to begin building a talent pool.   Your agency may be doing campus recruiting, job fairs, partnerships with education and community organizations, etc. Are you mining profiles in online databases on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and other sites as a part of your full recruiting strategy? Are you tapping into online communities and professional networks proactively? What opportunities do you have to employ such outreach as in the private sector?
  2. Dedicated sourcing resources: Dedicating a well-trained and focused sourcing team to find and interact with candidates who will meet initial requirements (prior to the vacancy being posted) improves the overall talent pool for an organization. And, it means that more costly resources with limited time — the interviewing, screening and hiring teams — are only spending time with more qualified candidates chosen from a wider, more qualified pool. Sourcing tasks can be assigned to earlier stage or less experienced employees as part of a career-track for HR functions.
  3. Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO): You might think these are great ideas so far, but how will you fund and/or staff them? RPO is an approach that can be designed to fit what you want and need. The firm “becomes” you to the degree you want it to do so and you design the approach with the provider. It can be entirely private-labeled where the contracted firm will manage part or your entire sourcing and recruiting process while leveraging your own Federal experts to handle the staffing/hiring processes, making compensation and onboarding decisions, and/or whatever you prefer to retain. You manage their efforts to the service level agreements you define.
  4. Recruitment process / “workflow” design and consultants: You may want to consider hiring a firm like this long before you start outreach to RPO or technology firms, as they can help you define where opportunities reside and what you want to include in an RFP. There are many consultants and firms experienced with assessing current processes and opportunities to help you make changes based on current best practices. Some are focused on helping you refine what you do so that you find more qualified talent faster — and get them on board faster. Here are a few questions to ask yourself: Take a deeper look at your processes. Are there points at which you seem to be the most focused on expanding reach? What happens next when they enter the applicant pool?

If you’re still wondering where you should start, take a look at your data. What are the numbers telling you? Are you getting more and more applicants yet still taking the same amount of time or more to find the right people? Are you finding out which of those 5, 50, 250 or more candidates who are qualified and truly interested in working with you? Are you doing so quickly enough that you get the best candidates before they accept positions with the private sector or another federal agency? And, ultimately the big question – are your hiring managers delighted with the cert list provided them for selection? We’ll share some thoughts on workforce analytics in future blogs.

In the meantime, we’ll leave you with this last thought:

“Mission-critical skills gaps within specific federal agencies as well as across the federal workforce pose a high risk to the nation because they impede the government from cost-effectively serving the public and achieving results,” the Government Accountability Office concluded in a 2015 analysis. GAO 2015 High Risk Report

Hopefully some of these ideas serve as a springboard for you, as you continue to tackle the important tasks of recruiting and hiring top talent in the federal sector.

Over the next few months, we’ll tackle some of the tools and practices used by commercial organizations to ultimately hire and retain the best talent. If you’d like to stay connected to this information, sign up here to receive future blogs by email.   No Fields Found.