Fedweek

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OPM has issued a “federal workforce priorities report” that repeats some long-running themes in federal personnel management policies but that adds emphasis on looking ahead, saying the experience of the pandemic “amplified the importance of sound human capital planning.”

“Federal leaders, managers, and front-line employees must not only be aware of the changes to the work, workforce, and workspace, but must also be able to identify weak signals, anticipate trends, and plan for the inevitable changes . . . Anticipatory workforce management must become the hallmark of leaders at all levels, as well as every civil servant who desires to assist in the vitally important work done by the federal government,” it says.

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It sets eight priorities largely mirroring prior guidance from the Biden administration in executive orders and through the President’s Management Agenda; OPM said it expects agencies to “build in these priorities to strengthen the work they are doing on already existing workforce initiatives.”

They are (in its words): recruitment, succession planning and knowledge transfer; enhancing employee experience, fostering employee well-being and building a diverse and inclusive workforce; fostering an agile organization and the growth mindset; enhancing customer experience; preparedness and resilience; leveraging data as a strategic asset; leveraging technology and modernizing IT processes; and developing an agency foresight capability.

OPM noted that the first five of those priorities focus on people, while the last three focus on practices and processes.

Regarding the people-oriented priorities, it says that “agencies can no longer afford to react to workforce and technological changes when they occur. While agencies continue to systematically identify the required workforce skills, roles, and competencies, they should also anticipate changes and plan early to successfully address future opportunities and challenges.”

“Agencies understand the workforce is changing, and the federal government must change with it. All agencies must recommit to branding their work to ensure that they are doing their best to attract the next generation of government employees and providing them the necessary career-path to retain that talent,” it says.

Regarding practices and processes, it says agencies should plan to “optimize HR service delivery and explore ways to standardize core HR processes across all business units. They should implement efficient, cost-effective, and customer-focused service delivery models that consider future occupations and different ways of performing federal work.”

Some of those themes also are continuations from the first such report, issued in 2018 under Trump administration initiatives to “reshape” the federal workforce and “maximize employee performance.” That report identified three priorities in the former category—succession planning, developing communication tools and acquiring technology to analyze HR issues—and three in the latter—expanding employee development opportunities, bolstering recognition programs and enhancing the focus on employee health.

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