Ways to Address Open Roles in Your Workforce

Despite many job opportunities, only a limited set of people succeed in finding a suitable position in the federal workforce. While the need for federal employment persists, the internal recruitment protocols often face a void when dealing with succession planning of vacant positions. Since federal employment sectors operate systematically, slight delays in filling the positions of retired and transferred employees can be  detrimental.

Let’s look at practical ways to address open roles in federal employment sectors.

The Importance of Succession Planning in Federal Employment Sectors

The federal employment structure thoroughly addresses retirement and transfer policies for employees. Despite having established these, federal employers find it challenging to fill the vacant positions urgently. While federal leaders pay close attention to filing sensitive roles on the job, there is a constant need for effective succession planning.

According to a 2019 SHRM research, 83% of HR professionals had difficulty recruiting suitable job candidates over a year. The difficulty arose due to varying preferences of employees based on economic conditions, market demand, and other related factors.

Federal organizations cannot afford to wait for too long before they find suitable successors for vacant positions. Such delays can impact operational efficiency, department integrity, and lead to financial losses in the long run.

To overcome this problem, federal employers must establish a system to pre-plan recruitment based on retirement and transfer timelines.  It is imperative to identify the gaps and fill them comprehensively to streamline succession planning at work.

Effective Ways for Succession Planning

Based on the SHRM report, there is an increasing talent gap in the candidate pool that leads to delayed recruitment. While there are a plethora of job applicants, only a few actually meet the role’s requirements.

The report also highlights that the gap is visible in middle-skilled jobs, high-skilled STEM jobs, and other skill-based positions. The following factors can be influential for federal agencies to establish a practical succession plan.

Identifying and Nurturing the Talent Pool

More often, recruitment drives occur a few weeks before an employee retires or relocates. While a few weeks seem a lot for finding suitable replacements for vacant roles, the HR teams find it difficult to find a comprehensive resource in the given time. Instead of starting the search closer to retirement time, federal employers should focus on the talent hunt as an ongoing process.

More importantly, the search may start from inside to out. Federal organizations typically have competent resources working at different designations. Employees can apply for specialized (vacant) positions internally based on their eligibility. Based on this scenario, federal leaders may find suitable replacements within their existing workforce.

Internal resources (working in different positions) may need some training for the new role, but they might be familiar with the organizational hierarchy and employment policies as opposed to workers just joining the organization.

Sometimes, the internal talent hunt faces added challenges, including limited role experience, pay scale negotiations, personality-based traits, etc. This is where federal leaders can nurture internal resources to make them fit for vacant positions.

For instance, filling the role of a retired department head may require leadership skills, STEM expertise, and analytical thinking. If a suitable resource misses out on any of the crucial skills, the HR teams may consider other options. However, a suitable practice would be to focus on the missing skills for effective recruitment, and determine whether those missing skills are trainable.

Preparing Multiple Candidates for Desired Roles

To speed up the recruitment process as a part of succession planning, federal employers should prepare multiple candidates suitable for vacant roles in an organization. The idea behind educating multiple candidates about specific positions is to have a replacement ready to take on the position of a retired, transferred, or deceased employee.

Here, the crucial question is, what happens to the remaining candidates who prepared but did not land the job? Federal employers must focus on overlapping skills that can fit most roles within the organization.

For instance, employers may conduct STEM training sessions, leadership skills, decision-making practices, stakeholder interactions, etc. Such skills come in handy in multiple job roles in a typical federal organization.

Another factor to remember is that candidate preparation should be aligned with filling important vacant roles (roles that are limited in number and hold a sensitive status in the organization’s structure). This practice can automatically reduce the number of suitable employees (for vacant positions) and filter them further based on talent acquisition.

Establishing a Role-Splitting Mechanism

Federal employment roles typically require diverse sets of capabilities and skills to be an ideal fit for the job. Sometimes, candidates for a specific role, in specific timeframes, and under specific circumstances fail to meet all the requirements listed in the job description. Such scenarios lead to delayed hirings, affecting deliverables.

To overcome this challenge, federal employers must establish a role-splitting mechanism that allows them to break down one person’s job into multiple roles with suitable dedicated resources. Federal organizations can derive effective policies to determine when role-splitting will be applicable. They can establish multiple scenarios for such policies to be applicable.

Here are a few implications of the role-splitting mechanism for federal organizations:

  • Training (existing or new) employees for specific duties for contracted periods.
  • Developing a streamlined reporting structure (within the created department).
  • Deciding on payroll adjustments after splitting roles (role-splitting may reduce per-employee costs as compared to a single role taker performing all duties).

Although federal organizations can better analyze and determine if they need role-splitting as contracted employment, hiring managers must remember that this succession plan is an alternative strategy to finding a suitable resource to make such decisions.

Finding and Recruiting Potential Successors from Outside

Federal employment sectors may sometimes face problems when filling vacant positions internally. In such cases, employers can focus on finding suitable candidates from outside. These candidates may come from other regions, departments, organizations, and locations. Federal employers can establish a preemptive job-posting system to notify workers in different locations when a position needs to be filled.

Some federal workers have relocation problems and show a willingness to move back to a different role at an organization. Such employees can be a good fit in the succession planning equation. The HR teams can conduct interviews and shortlist candidates suitable for vacant roles before the predecessor leaves.

It is worth noting that federal organizations operating in different regions may have varying (region-specific) employment policies. Recruitment managers must conduct training sessions for new and transferred workers to prepare them for vacant roles.

Understanding the Cascade Effect of Delayed Recruitments

The inevitable need for succession planning highlights some crucial factors in the federal employment sectors. When organizations fail to make timely recruitments in vacant positions, the organization suffers. Despite the roles (in focus) bearing the direct impact of prolonged vacancies, the deadlock can create a cascade effect, impacting multiple departments of the organization.

The cascade effect may cause financial losses, integrity problems, interdepartmental disputes, and leadership challenges. The longer organizations wait for suitable candidates to land jobs, the more they suffer.

Final Thoughts

Addressing open roles in federal employment can be tricky. Many variables jump into the succession planning equation when establishing alternative recruitment solutions. However, organizations can opt for one or more of the above ways to address such issues.

Management Concepts offers various training courses to empower you with essential skills and expertise to land important job roles in federal organizations. Visit our website and explore different federal training courses to get started.

Written by:

MC Bio
Human Capital & Human Resources
Media Type:

Exploring Organizational Structures in a Federal Landscape
A Federal Employee’s Guide to Risk Assessment