The volume of employees needed to staff any single agency, combined with routine transitions, high retirement eligibility rates, and general turnover present several challenges that federal agency HR specialists need to address.
From identification of events that will influence individual employees to larger changes that might have an impact on the entire agency, each of these factors must be considered when evaluating future hiring needs.
Identifying Key Personnel Events in Federal Agencies
Personnel events are used in projecting hiring needs in the future. It is important to have accurate projections of expected quit rates, retirement rates, and other routine transitions intra agency. These events make up a significant shift in human capital every year, and if not properly accounted for, can impact the effectiveness of federal HR in staffing key positions. Some important factors to consider include:
- Retirement Eligibility – There are currently more than 600,000 federal workers eligible for retirement. This represents more than 30% of the federal workforce and HR managers are understandably nervous. The long-expected retirement wave has yet to happen, but increased retirement rates year-over-year do continue and hiring plans need to adjust to account for them.
- Quitting and Separation – Standard events for any HR department, attrition can represent a sizable segment of the federal workforce and needs to be accounted for. By fully understanding the historical levels and the impact of any changes on future rates, HR can better prepare for shifts in these numbers.
- Natural Transitions – Even without a retirement wave, the current workforce is not static. Agencies can expect internal shifts of its workforce, such as promotions or transfers. To have a complete picture of hiring needs, the rate of natural transition needs to be monitored as well.
Clearly identifying the personnel events will project how frequently these personnel events will occur, which individuals are more likely to leave, and how the workforce will likely evolve in the coming years. All this information is incredibly valuable when planning hiring requirements.
Grade Distribution and Position Targeting
Another factor federal HR needs to evaluate in workforce planning is grade and position distribution. Factoring in retirement of higher level employees, attrition rates, and the natural transition of employees into higher grades or new roles, targets for grade distribution are needed to achieve the right mix of higher grade to lower grade personnel. This ensures an optimal flow of employees through the career progression paths to fill vacancies of senior managers as they move on or retire.
Agency hiring in the near term affect the composition of the work force over many years as employees’ progress in their careers. Forecasting the evolution of the workforce over the next five years with different scenarios provides insights for setting targets for hiring and grade distribution.
Effective Workforce Planning for Federal Agencies
Because of all these factors and the issues posed by slow hiring or low projections, federal HR relies on careful workforce planning processes to assess needs up to 3-5 years in advance. To learn more about how effective workforce planning can impact your agency, and how advanced statistical analysis empowered by technology tools can improve these projections, download our eBook, How Federal Agencies Can Leverage Technology Tools for Workforce Planning