Technology is constantly changing the ways in which work is performed—and that means it has a direct impact on workers. The good news is that it’s an exciting time for the public sector workforce. Today’s employees can use emerging technologies to reinvent their roles or find new, innovative ways to pick up where digital experiences leave off. And the even better news? Public sector workers empowered by the latest technologies are able to provide better services for citizens, communities and businesses.
Workers have become human+. In short, this means they blend their own individual knowledge, experience and skillset with a growing set of technological capabilities to carry out their roles more effectively than ever before. The human+ worker is a positive shift for public service agencies, but it also presents new challenges. Much of this technological know-how is built up outside of the workplace, so how do public service leaders support this new workforce to fully utilise their skills?
Most public service executives we surveyed (93%) report that the pace of innovation in their organisations has accelerated over the past three years due to emerging technologies. Public sector leaders must ensure that the pace of innovation among the workforce is complemented by the pace at which they introduce new technology into the workplace. The way to do so is to optimise the workforce mix, creating an ideal balance of people and technology.
Striking the human + machine balance
The right balance of people and technology can support the ever-evolving services that public sector agencies must deliver to citizens, communities and businesses. To optimise the workforce mix, leaders can pursue new recruitment approaches, employ adaptive workforce models, and upskill/reskill employees using AI and other technologies.
Finding new talent. Talent-finding strategies are out of sync with the capabilities of human+ workers. The public sector can evolve by using technology to help with recruiting the right people for the right roles, using smart technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to support the hiring process. And rather than “reactive” and skills-based hiring, leaders should look for ways to assess candidates by their capabilities and potential. An agency may discover that the talent it needs is already right within the four walls of the organisation, or it may find that new types of skills are needed to provide services for the digital era—such as data scientists or problem solvers.
Expanding skills. Within the next three years, 39% of public service leaders expect that over 60% of their workforce will move into new roles requiring substantial reskilling, due to the impact of technology. By incorporating training and learning needs into their technology strategies, government agencies can match human+ capabilities and potential with both current and future enterprise skills needs. Planning for the future will enable government leaders to close skills gaps faster and ensure that there is no lag in service to citizens.
Adapting models. AI can help optimise the workforce by allowing government employees to focus on more important work. When technology takes on transactional tasks, people can spend more time responding to citizens’ individual needs and making a difference for the mission. For instance, the UK’s West Midlands Police (WMP) are improving effectiveness and increasing efficiency using innovative digital technologies and evidence-based, preventative policing techniques. Through mobile solutions and AI, WMP is able to augment staff capability and provide better services to citizens. Officers spent more time fighting crime and less time sitting in an office.
Powering the human+ workforce
Technology is both the challenge and the solution for public service agencies. While citizens now expect digitally-enabled, on-demand services, workforces are better positioned than ever to meet these demands with the technology and skills already at their fingertips. The obligation is now on public service leaders to empower their human+ workers with the tools they need to deliver excellent outcomes for citizens.
Are you one of the 93% of public service leaders that’s seeing the pace of innovation accelerate within their agency? What approaches are you using to keep up? For more ideas on empowering the workforce to meet citizen demands, take a look at our human+ worker report.
 Accenture Technology Vision 2019