Quote of the week
“(P)ublic service should be a career of choice for the most talented Americans.”
— Presidential Memorandum
Just over a year ago, President Obama issued a directive aimed at improving the quality of new hires to the federal public service. He called for “a commonsense hiring process” that would replace “the complexity and inefficiency of today’s…hiring” methods.
There’s no doubt that public sector human resources management has become more complicated. There are now multiple age groups in organizations that expect conformity, and, in Canada at least, government employee makeup does not reflect the multi-cultural demographics that are served.
An obvious challenge is the time it takes to hire staff. In today’s competitive market, potential new employees will not wait months for governments to make up their minds. And the cost of these delays is that government misses out on high-quality, scarce resources that simply do not need to wait around for the system to act.
Obama called for “reducing substantially the time it takes to hire mission-critical and commonly filled positions.”
He also called for the elimination of essay-style questions and indicated that he supports the use of “simple, plan language applications,” presumably to encourage minority language candidates. Some old fogey’s might worry that this would lower standards.
The presidential memorandum put the onus for delivering results on managers and supervisors, calling for them to both be more involved in hiring and accountable for bringing talent into the system.
Each agency was required to develop timelines and targets to improve the speed and quality of hiring.
The memorandum sent out a signal relevant to all governments: human resources are an organization’s biggest assets, and recruitment needs to be faster and less cumbersome if governments are going to get the talent.