OPM Releases First-of-its-Kind Workforce Priorities Report
This week, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released the first-of-its-kind Quadrennial Federal Workforce Priorities Report, intended “to identify current and future actionable challenges, through research and analysis from both the private and public sectors, for use by strategic decision makers, managers, and employees of the Federal human capital community.”
According to Federal News Radio, OPM has “asked agency chief financial officers to choose two priorities to focus and act on until it releases the next quadrennial workforce report in 2021.” Many of the report’s suggestions also reflect President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal, which was also released this week.
The report outlines six priority areas that would “spur productivity and organizational success” within agencies.
OPM’s overviews of its six priority issue areas are:
- Succession planning and knowledge transfer.
Agencies should maintain a multi-faceted succession plan that is designed to capture the valuable knowledge and insights of current employees, convey captured knowledge to new and retained employees, and create and utilize a multi-generational pipeline.
- Deploying communication tools.
For a geographically dispersed and agile workforce, communication and collaboration should be enabled by technology and fostered by leadership. Enterprise social networks, in particular, can help facilitate organizational fluidity and resilience, by enhancing communication among employees and organizations. Enterprise social networks also help in streamlining knowledge capture and access, while fostering innovation and collaboration.
- Securing IT solutions for human capital analysis.
OPM will aim to provide tools for agencies that can fill gaps in current analytic capabilities to ultimately facilitate more informed and evidence-based planning and decision-making. This will complement agency reform plans, which call for better leveraging of technology to improve underlying business processes and the streamlining of mission support functions through efforts such as shared information technology (IT).
- Expanding employee development opportunities.
Training and development are a means to sustain high performance during workforce reshaping. When employees’ duties are modified through reassignment, relocation, or increased workloads, it is imperative that they receive the proper training and development to address new and augmented assignments and acclimate to new environments and modes of operation.
- Improving employee recognition programs.
Employee recognition programs encourage sustained excellence and productivity and help retain top talent, which becomes increasingly important as the workforce is streamlined. Recognizing high performers is highlighted in both the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) agency reform memo and OPM’s workforce reshaping guidance. It is a proactive and accountability-based practice that can help avoid performance problems and conduct issues.
Enhancing productivity by focusing on employee health.
Increasingly, employers are engaged in helping employees become more active during work hours. People spend a large portion of their day at work, and there are various ways during this time that aspects of physical fitness can be incorporated. The workplace benefits that employee health can provide, especially in light of the relatively low investment costs, can be a valuable tool for organizations that are called upon to do more with less.
Jason Briefel, Legislative Director for the Senior Executives Association, said the priorities highlighted by OPM are vital areas for effective reform, also commending the administration’s recognition that the challenges require long-term commitment.
He noted, however, that the details of any reform initiative would be critical to get right, suggesting that “attempting to move to a pay-for-performance system without first accurately describing what ‘performance’ should look like is equivalent to renovating a home without addressing the cracked foundation. Likewise, we must accept that a race to the bottom on federal pay and benefits will improve neither our ability to recruit new talent poised to innovate, nor our retention efforts targeted at our most effective civil servants.”
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