The Need for an Effective Talent Strategy

This post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent industry perspective, Training the Public Safety Workforce of Tomorrow

Public safety organizations need an effective talent strategy to hire a diverse workforce, attract and retain new talent, improve knowledge transfer from experienced to younger employees, establish focus and accountability, motivate and reward employees, and implement effective succession planning. A talent strategy can vary based on agency mission and overall requirements of their workforce. Essentially, it’s a way for leaders and HR to work together to define mission objectives and optimize employee skill sets to meet those objectives. And it must be a continuous process.

“Succession planning is not just an isolated process but a continuous model,” said Joseph Roche, Director of State and Local Government at Cornerstone OnDemand. “Agencies need to focus on designing development and opportunity plans for new employees all the way to middle management. And as you lose expertise from exiting workers, you may also lose processes. Agencies must keep these processes well-documented and circulate them through the future leaders of the organization.”

To develop a more powerful and effective workforce, public safety organizations should apply these three best practices to their talent strategy:

1.  Identify and align goals.

First, agency leaders need to discuss their organization’s priorities. Then, build out a talent strategy that reflects and facilitates these goals. As part of that plan, managers should hold frequent performance discussions with employees to ensure alignment and transparency. To help employees achieve these goals and, in turn, help the organization realize its vision, HR must strategically assign trainings so staff acquire the required skills and competencies to drive mission success.

2.  Use a learning platform.

Use a learning platform to provide on-demand access to training modules that reflect employee goals and interests. Managers can also assign courses as they see fit. A learning platform should be available to employees 24/7 and accessible via mobile devices.

Leaders should also prioritize collaborative learning. Employees can share expertise and knowledge from the field, discuss key experiences and trade best practices. By providing learning and development opportunities for employees, organizations will spur employee engagement, increase retention and build a workforce with the skills necessary to drive organizational mission objectives.

3.  Build bench strength.

To effectively manage talent and foster growth, agency leaders need to identify their highest-performing employees, as well as ones with the most potential. Training these high-impact workers with the right skills will help them move into new roles as needed. This will save significant time and costs associated with external recruiting.

At the same time, agencies should be building organizational depth by capturing and sharing existing workers’ knowledge. In-house social platforms and collaborative learning initiatives foster exchanges of critical knowledge and vital experience from the field. This ensures that when workers retire or change roles, the organization doesn’t lose that information.

With public safety agencies being asked to do so much with such limited resources, the risks of not having a talent strategy or cloud-based platform are steep. But getting it right has significant rewards, such as improved morale, higher engagement and an increased sense of ownership and commitment from employees.

Even more importantly, it helps keep communities and citizens safe. An effective talent strategy combined with a talent management solution in the cloud can help public safety organizations face the impending state and local talent crisis.

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