Plugging the brain drain
The Australian public sector should use workforce planning tools to tackle the talent ‘brain drain’.
It’s well known that a career in public service offers security, challenge, a sense of purpose, enviable work-life balance and other entitlements. Increasingly, though, the Australian public sector is losing talent to private enterprise at almost double the return rate (a factor of 1.8, according to a LinkedIn report).
This is why it is important that government agencies adopt tools and strategies associated with workforce planning to provide an emerging, highly integrated, enterprise-wide approach to personnel oversight.
Cloud-based workforce planning solutions lend total visibility into all areas of the workforce, exposing skills gaps and performance discrepancies. Going beyond a mere assessment of whether there are enough qualified personnel in a particular department, it determines the precise competencies within a department’s different areas, ensuring all bases are covered. For example, software engineers and analysts both work in R&D, but they don’t do the same thing. They are, however, both needed to advance an agency’s missions. Many roles are interdependent, so the identification of talent shortfalls always be with respect and consideration for the entire department.
With more than a quarter (28%) of public sector professionals looking for new employment opportunities at any one time, organisations must be proactive in recruiting talent. But new talent will not serve an organisation in the future if they’re not equipped with the skills accurately identified as being in need. Organisations today are recognising that they simply cannot look to ‘fill in the blanks’ and recruit strictly based upon ‘hard skills’ or position-specific experience. They must also take ‘soft skills’ into account. For example, a talent engineer who’s unable to communicate problems or work collaboratively may be a hire that causes more issues than it solves.
Through workforce planning, public sector employers can determine the minimum ratio of hard and soft skill qualities needed for every conceivable function. This ‘tagging’ function will also help to identify employees with abundant soft skills for future leadership roles.
People come and go from organisations for a variety of reasons, but retirement is inevitable and therefore should be both anticipated and planned for. Armed with a forecast into anticipated retirements, talent managers can anticipate, track and match talent to roles being vacated. Planning in advance, and identifying internal and external talent who can quickly step into these roles, will enable organisations to efficiently fill vacancies before a shortfall materialises.
Unfortunately employees leave jobs for many reasons besides retirement, and often disengagement or better opportunities elsewhere are forces that push talent away from public sector roles. Therefore, it is critical for organisations to take full advantage of workforce planning solutions that measure employee engagement throughout the organisation and across a range of metrics.
By evaluating which departments have the most engaged employees and which have the least, organisations will be able to incorporate best practices from the ‘haves’ to elevate satisfaction levels among the ‘have nots’, and retain their expertise for years to come.
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