Opinion
December 12, 2012

Recruiting and retaining the knowledge worker

Quote of the week

“In order to provide the level of service expected from the Federal Government, we must address significant HR issues.”

— National Academy of Public Administration report

Editor’s Corner

As the public sector faces its uncertain future, one key area for it to consider is human resources, where change in both the workplace and the workforce is occurring at a rapid pace.

A recent U.S. government report reminds policymakers in the Administration that 60 percent of the federal workforce is eligible to retire in the next four years. It also points out that no matter what people may think about the value of public servants, there are “increasingly complex demands placed upon federal agencies” that public servants need to deal with.

Well, no secret about the fact that the policy world is getting more complex. Horizontal issues and all that stuff. And certainly no secret that in Canada the federal government, even as it has reduced the workforce dramatically, has kept an eye on the future by bringing in new hires.

The U.S. report has some advice to help the government make sure its capacity to lead through these complex issues remains. Most of the ideas will not come as surprises.

It suggests that the recruitment processes be streamlined to focus on bringing in knowledge workers. The present systems are cumbersome and built for an age when things moved slower.

It also calls for an increase in training and development programs. This is in essence a retention strategy to keep skilled people in the system.

The fact is that the workforce is changing. Younger and more diverse, their expectations of the workplace are varied, bringing new challenges for managers.

Similarly the public sector workplace is changing. It is still too focused on systems that are designed for low skill employee recruitment and retention, rather than the enterprise-wide high-value knowledge workers that government needs to attract and retain if it is to remain relevant.

I will be taking a break – more to come in early January.

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