4 Public Sector HR Trends You Should Know About for 2018

by Lauren Girardin on January 29, 2018

Planning ahead is the lifeblood of any human resources professional. Tapping into trends helps you proactively develop responses to the evolving demands of the public sector workplace.

Processes change and new ideas emerge. What worked well enough in previous years has become obsolete, and solutions previously unimagined have become today’s most effective best practices. Knowing what trends may pop up as hot topics at your agency gives you an advantage in the coming year.

Here are four important trends human resources professionals in the public sector can anticipate in 2018 and beyond. 

1. Adopting a digital mindset

Digital technology is rapidly transforming the way the public sector operates, including the human resources department. What once was accomplished through paper pushing and manual entry can now be intuitively and efficiently managed with digital systems that use automated workflows, data and dashboards, self-service portals, collaboration tools, and more.

As workforce technology innovation has accelerated and the advantages of technology have become undeniable, public sector organizations have become motivated to dive into digital. Agencies are choosing effective tools to transform a host of human resources functions such as recruiting, onboarding, culture, and employee performance. But, human resources professionals in the public sector now know they need to go beyond tools for tools’ sake. They are cultivating a digital mindset that allows them to envision how technology can be an integral part of transforming everything at their agency. 

2. Championing people analytics

People analytics is about using evidence instead of guesswork to make better decisions about people. The evidence comes in the form of high-quality data that has thankfully become easier to gather, access, manage, distribute, and use.

Human resources technology solutions are making it possible for even non-technical individuals to practice insightful people-centric, analytics-driven decision making. These solutions allow agencies to improve data collection and facilitate the flow of real-time people data across teams and functions. More public sector agencies are pursuing the technology, methodology, and conversations needed to bring people analytics into all stages of the employee experience. 

3. Investing in learning and skill building

As many employers struggle to find workers for open jobs, they are embracing the idea that they need to take action and train the talent pipeline. Even if your agency has so far been unwilling, the pressure is on. In a 2017 American Staffing Association survey, 9 in 10 respondents said that employers should do more to train workers in skills the employers require.

Technology is making it easier for employers to help new hires and long-term employees learn key skills. Agencies are offering online and on-demand trainings to employees to boost workforce development. Public sector employers are even launching learning management systems that provide an abundance of videos, courses, resources, and other formal training and skill building solutions. 

4. Shifting to continuous performance feedback

Few will mourn the demise of the once-a-year performance review. Agencies are replacing the annual appraisal slog with modern performance management systems that support employees at every step, starting before they’re recruited through when they leave the agency.

For this kind of system to be effective, employers are shifting to performance feedback that is continuous and immediate, meaningful and specific, and positive and transparent. Agencies that have made the switch to timely and ongoing feedback are better able to keep employees motivated and productive by increasing transparency around expectations, correcting problems early, and nurturing the talents of emerging leaders.

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Lauren Girardin

Lauren Girardin is a marketing and communications consultant, writer, and speaker based in San Francisco. She helps organizations engage their communities and tell their stories. Her website is laurengirardin.com and you can connect with her on Twitter at @girardinl.