HR
September 5, 2012

The HR manager’s growing challenge

Quote of the Week

“If overseeing the federal workforce were an Olympic event, it would only be fair to judge performance by the degree of difficulty.”

Editor’s Corner

The task of the government human resources officer isn’t getting any easier. This observation from a U.S. report by Grant Thornton and the Partnership for Public Service.

In the spring of 2012, interviews were held with over 55 human resources officers in the U.S. federal government. The report reminds us again that the rate of internal change is increasing, a trend that has affected the human resources community as well as the public service itself.
 
Over half of the HR leaders interviewed for a similar study five years ago are no longer in their positions. This is due to many factors, including a 25% increase in retirements as people leave the government.

The HR leaders noted some trends that will be familiar to those in the Canadian public sector.

For one thing, competition for key talent is increasing, especially in the scientific, technology and engineering fields. There are shortfalls coming in accounting, finance and procurement. On top of that, government has a bad reputation and isn’t attracting the young talent it needs.

Performance management still isn’t good enough, the report’s interviewees say. Some want a cross-government approach; others want more flexibility to do the job themselves.

And there are complaints that the many separate HR IT systems cry out for more standardization across the system.

From a Canadian perspective, much of this rings true. Our workforce is also changing, and the need to recruit young people remains even as the public service shrinks. And it is no secret that the government brand isn’t a strong one, and that our slow hiring systems make it hard to keep skilled talent in a competitive market.

The complaints about inadequate HR IT systems that don’t speak to each other aren’t new either. At the federal level, we’ll look to Shared Services Canada to move on that one down the road.

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