Last month, the Office of Personnel Management released an annual telework report on employee engagement and retention, highlighting the importance of improving telework data and strengthening workforce environments as some agencies make efforts to return to the office.

Beyond that, the Biden Administration has identified “strengthening and empowering the Federal workforce” as the first priority of its President’s Management Agenda. The PMA’s strategies to achieve this include making every federal job a good job — where all employees are engaged, supported, heard and empowered — along with building personnel systems and supports that empower federal employees to effectively deliver on a broad range of agency missions.

Government organizations can capitalize on technology to better support their workforce and attract younger talent — an important task since only 7% of permanent full-time federal employees are younger than 30, and 31% of all government employees are eligible to retire by 2025.

One easy way to support the federal workforce in day-to-day operations is by capitalizing on secure, practical voice communication tools. By centering voice technology as a critical component in workforce operations, employees can collaborate more efficiently, serve citizens more effectively and streamline agency missions.

The best hybrid work environment

Federal employees need to be able to work remotely whenever necessary to ensure the processes that provide critical citizen-facing services don’t slow down. Though the pandemic served as an unexpected stress test for government agencies, we’ve come out on the other side with remote and hybrid work environments becoming an expected part of operations. But for that to work, agency teams need all kinds of different communication tools at their disposal.

For some, voice is considered a legacy technology, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. While it has been a foundational method of communicating for more than a century, voice has silently been innovating alongside other, seemingly more modern tools like video.

Voice has consistently been the leader in reliability and has evolved through major technology transformations such as cloud and AI to make sure that doesn’t change. For example, there is almost no downtime. Compared to other technologies, that reliability can’t be beat. This is because voice provides immediate transitions to backup systems and at least 2x scalability for situations where citizen demand floods in to support unanticipated needs.

Beyond that, it is an essential tool for collaboration among agency teams. Much like the constituents they seek to help, federal employees work together in myriad ways depending on everything from the agency’s mission to the sensitivities around access to certain kinds of information. That means agencies need to modernize communications in a way that considers every viable channel.

In this hybrid environment, voice technology not only helps agencies carry out the mission but makes the entire process easier on employees.

Serving the citizen experience

Many government employees were driven to the public sector because of a desire to serve and make our country a more equitable place to live. That’s why it’s often frustrating to see citizens struggling to take advantage of important federal programs. By improving the citizen experience, on-the-ground federal workers will have a better connection to the mission and the people they’re serving. If they know their work is making an impact, their own experiences will be richer and more fulfilling.

While many citizens expect their government experiences to be as seamless and efficient as private sector companies, there is still a significant group that needs a voice option. The digital divide has made it more challenging for governments to meet the needs of all their citizens, regardless of accessibility challenges.

For instance, older citizens turn to voice because it’s what they know and understand. They often use more government services than younger people — from Social Security to Medicare to emergency medical services — and need a simple and effective way to communicate. Sometimes their financial or physical condition depends on those connections.

Beyond that, the rural and underserved populations rely on voice communications because of lack of broadband and economic challenges around connectivity. In fact, voice can be the only lifeline for those living in rural areas outside the reach of broadband.

Whether it’s because they don’t have access to the right technology or simply don’t know how to take advantage of email or website communications, the government cannot leave these people behind. By being able to effectively serve these populations, federal employees will feel a sense of pride in their work and the mission at large.

The federal government needs to attract and retain top talent. One way to do that is by making sure they have the right communications tools, both for their own collaboration and for serving the citizen experience. Voice is a critical component of that strategic toolset and, in some cases, can make the difference for those seeking the services they need to survive.

Stacy Schwartz is VP, Public Sector & Education, at RingCentral, a global provider of AI-first cloud-based business communications

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