The Biden Administration has made improving employee experience a top priority within the past two years, listing “Strengthening and Empowering the Federal Workforce” as the first of its three major priorities.

It’s not difficult to see why, with overall employee satisfaction falling five points year-over-year in 2022, according to the 2021 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. Another report from March 2022 found that while the private sector has recovered more than 90% of jobs lost over the past two years, the public sector has only recovered 53%.

To address dissatisfaction among federal employees and ameliorate recruitment concerns, many agencies have begun taking steps to directly address this issue.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is one such agency, having recently appointed of a Chief People Officer. This new role signals the start of a new era for human resources throughout the federal government.

The CPO title itself implies a people-first approach to HR, recruitment and the overall employee experience, or EX. A robust, enthusiastic workforce is necessary to successfully deliver the essential government services the American people depend upon. This increased emphasis on seamless recruitment and positive EX is crucial considering many agencies are struggling to recruit and retain top technical talent, particularly from younger generations.

On top of shifting to a more personalized mindset on recruitment and retention, agencies should look to strategic IT modernization initiatives and tools that speed up the recruitment process and reduce strain on current federal employees. Ultimately, improvements to EX will translate into positive customer experiences, or CX, for the public while interacting with federal agencies for essential government services.

Accelerate recruitment to secure top talent

Out of every ten government jobs posted from July 2021 to August 2022, approximately four were filled—the lowest rate among the 10 major economic sectors tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This low hiring percentage is due, in part, to the average time to hire for the public sector being 3x longer than the private sector.

One straightforward solution to address this recruitment challenge is to digitize all government forms and implement secure e-signature solutions across the board.

By creating reusable digital templates, routing documents to recipients in a specific order, setting up automatic reminders and allowing employees to digitally sign forms, hiring teams can dramatically reduce the likelihood of missing out on a promising applicant due to administrative delays.

The true potential of digital documents and signatures is realized when automation is enabled.

Moreover, to defend sensitive data and ensure compliance, FedRAMP certified solutions can be adopted to accelerate document processing without compromising on security.

While cumbersome, prolonged recruitment processes cause the federal government to miss out on top talent, reducing reliance on paper-based forms can save time and costs for government workers, citizens, and applicants alike.

Set up the workforce for success

While a modern recruitment process signals to prospective candidates that the agency’s IT practices are advanced, which may help attract younger applicants, it is key that the employee experience once the applicants are hired be just as smooth. Utilizing modern, digital tools proves to a young job seeker that they will have access to the industry leading digital tools they’re accustomed to using. For this reason, agencies should equip their current workforce with the most up to date digital tools possible.

Particularly in the modern remote work environment, it’s imperative that teams use automated processes to collaborate effectively. Intelligent, self-service workflows let employees focus their time and attention on solving problems, not managing tedious administrative tasks.

Furthermore, interoperability — whether it be interagency or cross agency — should always be prioritized to foster collaboration and mitigate bottlenecks. To minimize disruptions for employees upon implementation, agencies should seek document management solutions that can integrate seamlessly into existing enterprise applications.

When a workforce is armed with cutting-edge technology that enables them to do their jobs productively, burnout is reduced, and retention rates improve. Investment in IT modernization is an investment in the future of the federal government and its committed workforce.

Focus on employee experience as well as customer

Positive employee experiences directly translate to improved customer experiences because employees can dedicate time and attention to citizen needs. When employees are armed with industry leading technology, productivity will inevitably increase, and employees’ time can be spent on higher value tasks.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is one agency that recognizes the inextricable link between EX and CX. As such, VA established an EX capability within the Veterans Experience Office to improve employee engagement and, in turn, increase customer satisfaction.

Initiatives such as the VEO and CISA’s CPO appointment show that federal government leaders are prioritizing EX to better deliver mission critical services to the American people.

IT modernization tools like digital forms and workflows, and e-signatures, are universally applicable and beneficial. Such implementations can immediately accelerate the recruitment pipeline and boost overall EX. However, each federal agency is at a unique stage of their digitization journey and requires specific solutions for their recruitment and personnel needs. Therefore, it’s critical to also consult with trusted industry advisors to ensure those needs are met as efficiently as possible.

The American public deserves superb service. Since government runs on people power, it’s paramount that the federal workforce is empowered with the best possible resources to serve their constituents effectively.

David Santiago is Head of Industry for Public Sector at Adobe.

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This article is an Op-Ed and the opinions expressed are those of the author. If you would like to respond, or have an editorial of your own you would like to submit, please email Federal Times Senior Managing Editor Cary O’Reilly.

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