The Next Frontier in Employee Hiring and Retention

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Connecting state and local government leaders

COMMENTARY | Paper-based processes are weighing governments down and hurting their ability to attract and retain the best talent. It’s 2023, it’s time to digitize.

Most of us have seen that meme of a public-sector employee at his desk buried in paperwork. And in 2023, too often that picture is not that far from reality.

According to G&A partners, a human resources company, HR professionals spend roughly three-quarters of their time on administrative activities, much of which are manual and repetitive. This often comes down to cumbersome, paper-based and time-consuming processes that make it more difficult for HR departments to hire and retain talent. After all, slow hiring processes and outdated tools are a deterrent to potential employees, who are used to digital experiences that mirror the innovations that they use in their daily lives.

For government HR departments in particular, this poses a significant challenge. Government is already dealing with a shortage of workers. The Center for American Progress found last spring that there are 695,000 fewer people employed in state and local government jobs than before the Covid-19 pandemic.

To overcome these antiquated processes and address staffing shortages, more and more agencies are embracing people-centric automation capabilities that digitize all HR workflows. This allows for faster and more efficient recruitment and hiring workflows, which minimizes the risk of losing qualified candidates due to lengthy and often frustrating processes. It also provides employees with the tools and resources to do their job more efficiently, enhancing the employee experience and minimizing retention issues.

Enter People-Centric Automation and the Three E’s

People-centric automation is all about embracing innovations that prioritize current and prospective employees’ needs. Engagement, efficiency and effectiveness are the three pillars of this new HR paradigm.

Understanding the key moments in the processes that matter most to the workforce makes it possible to identify the specific areas to focus on to enhance the employee experience.

Technology solutions can then be identified to create immersive, easy to use, engaging experiences that drive efficient and effective outcomes.

Accelerate Hiring and Onboarding

One such key moment and opportunity in the process is the hiring and onboarding of talent.  First impressions have a lasting impact—a study by PwC found that nearly half (49%) of job seekers have turned down an offer because of a negative experience during the hiring process. 

To start off on the right foot, agencies can improve the new hire experience by transitioning to modern HR platforms. By digitizing end-to-end hiring and onboarding processes, these types of solutions can engage applicants and new hires by keeping them updated on the status of their applications and streamlining the necessary paperwork. These solutions also reduce the time it takes to move applicants through the hiring process.

Once an employee is hired, digital tools also make it easier for signing and uploading necessary tax and employment information. They also prevent critical paperwork, such as offer letters and employee contracts, from getting lost or stuck in back-and-forth email correspondence.

Creating More Meaningful Work Experiences

Today’s professionals, particularly young workers, want meaningful work experiences that support the overall mission, regardless of whether they are working from home, in the office or in hybrid environments. Excessive paperwork can often take time away from more satisfying work, and can ultimately hinder this passion for public service.

So to increase efficiency and effectiveness and put the focus where it should be, government HR departments need to take a good look at their service delivery models, taking into account current employee preferences and hybrid workplace realities.

For example, employee time cards, compensation plans, policy agreements, employee handbooks, and leave request forms can be fully digitized. It’s also possible to digitize the processes and paperwork for employee training programs for licensing and certifications.

Take the Utah Department of Technology Services. Prior to the pandemic, they developed a plan to have 30% of its workforce teleworking by 2021, ramping up to nearly 50% by 2025.

To make this a reality, the department set up a centralized task management system for measuring productivity, as well as tracking and sharing projects with managers. The department also embraced video conferencing solutions with closed-captioning for transcribing meetings.

All the processes discussed improve the overall employee experience and free them up to focus on public service. It's no secret that government HR departments are often challenged with cumbersome and outdated processes that can negatively impact both hiring and retention

With an extensive selection of technology solutions, it is possible to leverage innovation that helps to attract and retain the best talent. Productive and happy employees are also less likely to leave government, and are better positioned to serve the mission.

Michael “MJ” Jackson, AVP, Global Head of Industries at DocuSign. MJ leads entrepreneurial teams that drive go-to-market strategies addressing unique customer challenges in Public Sector, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Financial Services, Supply Chain, and other regulated segments—advancing DocuSign’s mission that everyone may securely access, contribute to, and thrive in the new Anywhere Economy.

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