Connect with us

BUILD TO LAST

Rebranding Public Service

Published

on

Public service needs a rebranding.

It needs to emphasize that it is one of the best ways individuals can make a significant difference to society, which should help it compete with tech giants and other private sector employers for the brightest and best talent.

By Andrew Cave, Driving Change

That’s the view of Jeffrey Neal, who has spent his career in public sector human resources, including nine years as Human Resources director for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and two years as Chief Human Capital Officer at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

 

Now running consulting firm ChiefHRO, he believes one major problem in attracting the talent it needs is that “government doesn’t promote or market itself very well,” sometimes because it is prohibited from doing so.

 

“There are some people who think that government should never tout government,” he says, “but the reality is that if you want to recruit talent, you have to market. I think an increased focus on public service would be a very good thing.

 

“Another problem is that a lot of federal government agencies don’t recruit well. They do what some people in the HR field refer to as ‘post and pray’, where you post a job listing and pray that somebody qualified will apply for it. That’s not recruiting.

 

Recruitment Strategy 1: Focus on providing people with interesting work.

 

“What it ends up giving you is lower-caliber candidates who are not what you need. Federal agencies need to put some resources behind developing their human resources capabilities. They don’t do that very well in most agencies right now.”

 

Neal’s experience working in U.S. government agencies focused on science saw him recruit physicists, chemists, and metallurgists, while at the DLA he hired supply chain management personnel including buyers and inventory managers to handle material in warehouses.

 

He believes public sector recruitment is misunderstood, partly because it is impossible to generalize about its wide range of agencies, occupations, and skillsets.

 

However, he is adamant that merely focusing on the pay gap between public and private sectors misses the point. “When you look at high-caliber talent, is it about money or also intellect, willingness to work, creativity, and character?” he asks.

 

“I would make the argument that a person who is very bright and who is only interested in making money for himself or herself is not a high-caliber person. They are a greedy, self-centered person. In my definition of high-caliber, I would exclude people who are greedy and self-centered. I think there are very smart people who are interested in things other than going to the highest bidder.”

 

Recruitment Strategy 2: Hire beginners.

 

When working for DHS during the Obama administration, Neal saw how young people were drawn to public service when they thought they could make a difference. When Obama was elected, a wave of smart, energetic, and very enthusiastic people infused the administration with creativity and dynamism after working on the presidential campaign.

 

“They were exceptional young people who any organization would be thrilled to have,” he says. “We have to figure out what’s going to attract them, and we can’t do it with money. Governments can’t compete with the private sector in terms of money.

 

“If you look at what some of those jobs would have to pay to truly compete on a financial basis with the private sector, you’d have to be paying people five, six, or seven times the national average income and that just doesn’t sit well with people.

 

“The fact that it’s what the labor market says you should pay someone is irrelevant because people think differently about government. They don’t want government to be a place to go to get rich.”

 

Neal believes government recruitment should focus instead on providing people with interesting work. When working for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C., a chemist won a Nobel Prize for work he carried out there.

 

 

 

 

“He worked his entire career there,” says Neal. “He could have gone out and easily made ten times what the Naval Research Lab paid him, but the lab allowed him to do basic research in the kind of science he wanted to do so he stayed for decades.”

 

Different agencies use contrasting approaches. At the DLA, Neal says 25,000 people were employed at an agency with annual sales of $40bn but there was such a broad focus that it was very difficult to find private sector applicants with the necessary experience.

 

Instead, the agency hired entry level people and developed talent internally. This added complexity to the hiring process, with the agency having to project forward what its needs would be because training inventory management and contracting specialists took about two years. However, it proved successful, and the agency still uses this approach.

 

At the DHS, meanwhile, there were 200,000 civilian employees, plus 40,000 in the military and U. S. Coast Guard and recruitment had to contend with the scale of operations and with bureaucracy and red tape.

 

“They had to hire a lot of people both at the entry level and mid-career and still struggle with a lot of their hiring,” says Neal. “The contract specialists at the buying end of the operations have to follow the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which runs to 1,000 pages of requirements.

 

“Whereas you can find buyers in the private sector, they don’t know a thing about the FAR so a very experienced buyer who doesn’t have extensive training in it will fail because they don’t know what’s legal and what’s not and they can’t do the job because they don’t know the rules.”

 

Recruitment Strategy 3: Look to other sectors.

 

With The Transportation Security Administration’s 60,000-strong workforce, moreover, an issue was that the private sector didn’t have a lot of people doing similar work.

 

The solution was to hire straight from school and train people. “It may seem odd, but their hiring is more closely related to hiring for a department store or fast-food restaurant than it is for a law enforcement organization,” says Neal.

 

One skill that Neal finds clearly lacking in government is in cybersecurity, where the labor and jobs market are out of alignment, with huge demand for the limited supply of specialists.

 

As for a world where people can seamlessly switch in and out of public service, Neal feels it will take time to develop. “What it will require is less division in our society,” he says. “I do think it’s possible. We just have to get people interested in being a little less selfish. I’m not optimistic it’s going to happen soon.”

Source: Driving Change

Continue Reading
HEROES5 days ago

Right Livelihood Awards Announced: System Change is Not Only Possible, But Necessary

HEROES5 days ago

Inspiring the Next Generation of Changemakers

HEROES6 days ago

Make Love Go Viral: Somalian Peacemakers

HEROES6 days ago

Energy as a Public Service

HEROES6 days ago

Honoring Cooperatives

HEROES6 days ago

Ukranian Human Rights Defenders

The Great Transition2 weeks ago

Understanding the Great Transition

The Great Transition2 weeks ago

Information, Communications, Media

The Great Transition2 weeks ago

Consumption, Materials and Resources

The Great Transition2 weeks ago

Food and Agriculture

The Great Transition2 weeks ago

Transforming Health

The Great Transition2 weeks ago

Education for a New World

Featured2 weeks ago

The Transformation of Energy and Transportation Systems

The Great Transition3 weeks ago

Going forward: A realistic action plan

Rethink X1 month ago

Understanding where we’re at and how to get to where we are going

Video: Rethink1 month ago

0:00 / 20:59 Rethinking Energy 2020-2030: 100% Solar, Wind, and Batteries is Just the Beginning

Policy1 month ago

NO TO NUKES: Non-proliferation treaty conference ends in failure, ban treaty shows the way forward

Innovation without borders2 months ago

Innovation without Borders

Innovation without borders2 months ago

Information without Borders

Innovation without borders2 months ago

Affordable and Renewable Clean Energy

Innovation without borders2 months ago

Resources and Materials

Innovation without borders2 months ago

Improved Food Systems

Build for Change2 months ago

Why Endless Consumption of Our Finite Planet Will Take Us to Our Cliff of Doom and How We Can Prevent It

Featured2 months ago

Indigenous rice out-performs commercial varieties in nutrition value and tolerance to drought, flood, extreme weather

FOOD + AG.2 months ago

Reviving Jordan’s community, resilience and food sovereignty through urban wheat cultivation

FOOD + AG.2 months ago

An organic farming revolution in Thailand

Mobilized TV2 months ago

Heart Attacks Are Not Worth Dying For

Mobilized TV2 months ago

Rethink: Humanity’s Next Operating System

Mobilized TV2 months ago

Find out how your community could take on big business to serve the health of all.

Food and Land2 months ago

Understanding the Roots of the Food Crises and Preventing Future Crises: Resilience and a Deep Dive

Editorials2 months ago

Another Conference is not going to save us:

A web of Life for ALL Life2 months ago

Truths or Consequences

Build for Change2 months ago

The launch of “Rights of the Atlantic Ocean” campaign in Newfoundland

Build for Change2 months ago

What’s really going on in the Brazilian Rainforests?

Editorials2 months ago

To Save the Planet, Forget About the Globe (And Act Locally)

Rethink X1 month ago

Understanding where we’re at and how to get to where we are going

Video: Rethink1 month ago

0:00 / 20:59 Rethinking Energy 2020-2030: 100% Solar, Wind, and Batteries is Just the Beginning

Rethink X4 months ago

Out of Chaos Comes Creation: Understanding Transformation of Civilizations

Rethink X4 months ago

Understanding the Repeating Patterns of History: Growth / Collapse / Transformation

Mobilized News Network7 months ago

Clarity Above all Else

Paradigm Change7 months ago

Nuremberg Prosecutor at 102: Make Law, Not War.

INTERVIEWS8 months ago

GAIA TALKS: The Earth Speaks: Mohamed Ismail from Egyptians Abroad For Democracy Worldwide

Paradigm Change8 months ago

An Empowered World: People, we are Ready!

Paradigm Change8 months ago

Conscious capitalism and Raising the Bar of Human Possibility

Paradigm Change8 months ago

Open Collaboration on an Epic Scale: The Future is Cooperatively Decentralized

Paradigm Change8 months ago

Transforming Energy and Transportation

Paradigm Change8 months ago

Transforming agriculture and food systems for optimal planetary and personal health

Arts9 months ago

How The Pentagon and CIA Have Shaped Thousands of Hollywood Movies into Super Effective Propaganda

A web of Life for ALL Life10 months ago

We are One

Mobilized TV10 months ago

How we can eradicate heart Disease

Mobilized TV10 months ago

Howard Bloom: Imagination Takes You Everywhere

Featured10 months ago

From Punk to Planet: Slam Dunk the Junk with Dave Street

Mobilized TV11 months ago

A Moral Responsibility: Jean Su, Ctr. for Biological Diversity

Mobilized TV11 months ago

On Free Speech TV: Rethinking Humanity with James Arbib of RethinkX

Mobilized TV11 months ago

Sustainable Architecture, Design and Building for a Sustainable Planet

Mobilized TV11 months ago

A better understanding of lawn care for Climate Care featuring Dr. Rob Moir of the Ocean River Institute

Mobilized TV11 months ago

Stories from the Reservation: Davidica Little Spotted Horse

The News without the Noise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translate »