It’s been almost 30 days since President Trump signed the executive order to freeze federal hiring. In a little more than 60 days from now the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is expected to present a long-term plan to shrink the federal workforce through attrition.
At the moment, agencies cannot fill vacant positions and create new jobs, and it only impacts the civilian workforce. Also, federal offices can continue to hire, as long as the job has – or can be construed to have – a national security or public safety mission.
How will this impact federal agencies in the long-run? No one truly knows until the OMB plan is released. However, here is what agencies can expect, along with what they should consider implementing to further enhance efficiencies.
What to expect
While it is unclear the exact approach OMB will take with their workforce attrition plan, some have speculated that for every three employees who leave, an agency could hire one person in return. One fear with this approach is that agencies may end up losing staff they want to keep.
“We know that the best people with the most marketable skills are the most likely to leave. You end up with reverse retention. You end up keeping the wrong people.” – Ron Sanders, a former associate director at OPM and fellow at the National Academy of Public Administration.
“You lose good people…Good people can find jobs in the private sector or elsewhere. It’s the employees that you want to lose that stay forever.” – Janet Christ, a former chief human capital officer for the Federal Housing Finance Board and now independent federal job consultant.
There’s also the challenge of hiring the right person with marketable skills that want to work for the federal government. This is especially true with younger workers, who the government has struggled to recruit.
“Hiring freezes, or partial hiring freezes, tend to exacerbate the problems with too few young people in government.” – Jeff Neal, former CHCO for the Homeland Security Department and now senior vice president at ICF International.
How agencies can enhance efficiencies and increase future workforce appeal
The federal hiring freeze and workforce attrition initiative are meant to cut down on the billions of dollars in wasteful spending. It is also meant to improve workplace efficiencies by eliminating duplicative work.
Agencies can also further enhance workplace efficiencies by leveraging better collaboration practices and tools to achieve important mission critical outcomes. The GAO outlines several best practices agencies should leverage. They also point out the importance of using collaboration resources and stress the importance of using online collaboration tools.
Video teleconferencing (VTC) is one communication tool many agencies leverage to achieve important mission objectives. The use of collaboration technology also enables the public sector to provide more work flexibility for government workers. This helps increase the appeal to workers who value work-life balance, particularly with millennials.
Video is also a preferred tool to leverage when communicating across distance when an in-person interaction isn’t feasible. Instead of wasting more taxpayer dollars to pay for travel expenses, participants can simply leverage an online meeting using Skype for Business, which provides a rich collaboration experience, and has the security and scalability that is required in a UC platform.
Lastly, from an efficiency standpoint, video can be used to hire the best people to work for the federal government, regardless of location. Interviews can be conducted over video, which reduces not only travel expenses but also the time it takes to hire.
Federal agencies need to be focused on their response to the impending OPM workforce attrition plan. Agencies that leverage better collaboration technology will help to cut down on wasteful spending, while also enhancing communication efficiencies. Using better collaboration technology will also enable agencies to provide more work flexibility. This can increase the appeal to keep the best workers on board and hire younger workers.