Voices from Accenture Public Service

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I am always excited to share insights that we uncover through our vast research at Accenture. Most recently, we explored decoding organizational DNA—using vast amounts of data on work and the workforce to unlock the true potential of people. Our qualitative and quantitative research included a survey of more than 10,000 workers across 13 industries, including public service. Interestingly, 92 percent of public sector leaders recognize that new technologies and sources of workplace data can be used to unlock value that is currently “trapped” in the enterprise.[1]

I believe what we learned is especially important, considering the workforce challenges facing the public sector are quite unique. The working population is generally older than in the private sector. The pending wave of retirement is massive. And current skillsets might not be the ones to lead the organization into the digital future.

We know that agencies have an abundance of data to harvest, and it’s only growing in scope. In fact, 57 percent of public sector leaders say the volume of data on work, the workforce and the workplace has significantly increased or even exploded in the last three years.[2]

There is tremendous opportunity in tapping organizational data to help public sector organizations shape a skilled, dynamic workforce that brings the capabilities needed to deliver value to citizens, and the agency itself.

87% of public sector employees are open to the collection of data on them and their work if it improves their performance, well-being, or provides other benefits.

Getting to value

In light of our research, I believe there are three key areas where public sector leaders can expect the greatest improvement from use of workplace data.

1.Placing the right people with the right skills in the right roles

Government historically does not leverage the full power of data. Agencies often lack the necessary capabilities to analyze data, they are too administrative or process-oriented and organizations often focus on the job description rather than the actual skills needed to do the work.

Many countries have guidelines, rules and restrictions for recruiting people for specific jobs. However, data could be used more proactively to identify the right candidate for a job based on the unique skills they bring to that role. For instance, a person with a background in social services and health might be a perfect fit for a social security analyst job. Data can help reduce bias by diagnostically determining whether someone is the best person for a job. A majority of public sector employees (71 percent) say having reliable, factual data gathered by new technologies would improve fairness in hiring decisions.[3]

2. Improving workforce productivity and performance

When people are in the right roles, it will ultimately help employees to thrive and be fulfilled in their jobs, which will drive overall efficiency for the organization. This includes not just recruiting the right people for the right roles, but also finding the right fit for people already within the organization.

As we are well aware, citizen needs are always evolving, therefore so must government’s capabilities to serve them. Roles should be re-examined to determine whether or not they add value to the citizen experience. Should roles shift in scope or require new skills? Most government business leaders surveyed (94 percent) say using technology to identify people’s hidden and adjacent skills would help them reskill and retain displaced workers.[4] However, we must not forget that while data is critical to informing decisions about the workforce, so are HR staff members and other business leads. They can make wise decisions that are informed by data.

3. Retaining and engaging employees

It is often difficult to properly staff and retain upper management or the C-suite of a public sector enterprise. Compared to the private sector, there is a smaller ratio of people with a high level of education, with the skills to adapt to various departments or the change management talent needed to lead the organization during volatile times.

I believe that having strong players in leadership roles also can power innovation within the organization. Public sector managers surveyed (82 percent) said real-time information would empower people to experiment and innovate. Furthermore, 80 percent believe such information would enable change management programs to be better received and adopted.[5]

Cracks in the code

Decoding organizational DNA is difficult when employees don’t want it to happen or are fearful of how data will be used. The public sector workforce has concerns about automation and artificial intelligence. Will their jobs be redundant—even eliminated? While many countries have laws and regulations that protect workforce roles, there is opportunity to proactively inform employees of how the power of workforce data will be used in a trustful way.

Government employees are open to the idea. Our research found that 87 percent of public sector employees are open to the collection of data on them and their work if it improves their performance, well-being or provides other benefits.[6] And it can. Imagine if every employee felt valued and was a key contributor to high-quality public service delivery.

Defining the future with data

Public sector organizations face difficult workforce challenges, and there are more to come as technology takes on a more powerful role within organizations. I believe that agencies can solve some of these issues by unlocking the power of data. The key is to use data transparently, so that employees are aware of how it is being used and why.

If organizations build trust in the workforce, they’ll create value—for employees, for public service agencies and for the citizens they serve.

Let’s continue the conversation. Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn and stay tuned for upcoming blogs on the public sector and the workforce of the future.

[1] Accenture, “Decoding Organizational DNA” https://www.accenture.com/gb-en/insights/future-workforce/workforce-data-organizational-dna

[2] Accenture, “Decoding Organizational DNA” https://www.accenture.com/gb-en/insights/future-workforce/workforce-data-organizational-dna

[3] Accenture, “Decoding Organizational DNA” https://www.accenture.com/gb-en/insights/future-workforce/workforce-data-organizational-dna

[4] Accenture, “Decoding Organizational DNA” https://www.accenture.com/gb-en/insights/future-workforce/workforce-data-organizational-dna

[5] Accenture, “Decoding Organizational DNA” https://www.accenture.com/gb-en/insights/future-workforce/workforce-data-organizational-dna

[6] Accenture, “Decoding Organizational DNA” https://www.accenture.com/gb-en/insights/future-workforce/workforce-data-organizational-dna

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