Workforce Planning for Government


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In this transcript of the Government IQ interview with Benjamin Neal, Acting Assistant Secretary at the Workforce Planning & Reporting branch at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, it demonstrates how the department has created strategies towards an EVP and how the agency is working to retain talent.

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Workforce Planning for Government

  1. 1. Interview Transcript with Benjamin Neal, Acting Assistant Secretary at the Workforce Planning & Reporting branch at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Workforce Planning in Government 2011 IQWe’re seeing increased competition for talent in the labour market, so how is theDepartment of Immigration and Citizenship really creating strategies to compete?Benjamin NealWell, I suppose if we go back a couple of years in the department, we developed ourfirst employment value proposition or EVP and this much if you work for [indiscernible]they will know your ability to attract and retain key talent goes up where the individualposition, they get more in return for their commitment and they’re required to give, sowe’re about equation… is in their favor, you quite can see your ability to attract peoplego up. Now, government agencies are very different to each and both practice,although that officer if you like varies quite considerably, so agencies do face a lot quitea bit of internal competition within the government so there’s been a lot of timearticulating what it is that makes the lack in Department of Immigration and an attractiveplace to work. We over the last couple of years, have reviewed that place to work andwe’re about to launch it again. Clearly, if you’re working in government; job security andstability is quite often one of the big factors. But things like earning potential or thesalary that you might get is something that we don’t promote as a major incentivebecause some agency pay more than we do, in fact, we’re only above the 50%, but wedo of the other things such as the nature and the type of work we do and the find that alot of people for the rate for personal and professional labour what to come and work inthe department. I also spent a great deal of time on the diversity side of the equation.I’m looking at how we can attract and retain people from diversity groups you will havethere. 1
  2. 2. Government IQBeyond this, how is the department planning ahead and forecasting the need forskill or talent within your agency then?Benjamin NealWe have within our business, because we have 8000 people strong, we had many,many different parts of jobs and different job families. So at the moment, sort of verystrong focus on developing job families and identifying the specific skills andexperiences we need in each of these role. We’re also about to launch out new andimproved local planning process. We’ll take this further – we can take it further bymapping critical job roles and combining these with an approach around workforceaffordability, workforce capability and capacity and how we sort of take an integratedapproach to talent management. So, we’re really trying to get all those things that wedo in a piecemeal unplanned way and line them all up, so that we’re conducting themwith consideration for each other, and then that will give us further… as I mentionedbefore, more sort of a human capital management approach to how we get the bestdata available obtained.Government IQGovernment departments usually have a really high retention rate with meantenure of being about 7 years, so what government does really post other riskssuch as aging workforce, so what are your workforce and succession plans toaddress this issue?Benjamin NealWe have very low tenture-dom in the department, but conversely, we have a really highdegree of lateral movement and mobility, so we find that people tend to move aroundthe department quite a bit. It keeps people from a positive side, just keeps people freshand allows them to develop multiple careers in one agency and it gives people a senseof renewal when they might have a wider look outside of the organisation. So as yourightly point out, but we do get people with significant tenure and we need to managetheir expectations and their careers as well. We’re taking a much more integratedapproach again to the way we do talent succession management by combining this withour business and workforce planning processes. So, we’ve got a metrics and analyticscenter of excellence here in DIC which does quite a deal of workforce planning andreporting, particularly on the reporting side and they enable us to analyse the workforceand look at areas where we probably need to intervene and then we designinterventions around that so we know that we have quite an aging senior executiveservice in this department and then in the next 5 to 10 years, a significant proportion ofthose like on a turnover, but we’re in the process now of launching senior executive 2
  3. 3. service succession planning process where we’ll be looking at the junior cohort andlooking at individual readiness over the next 18 to 36 months for people who are likelygiven the appropriate development opportunities going to be able to step up into thoseleadership roles. So we’ve previously allowed that to be line management-led functionand succession management has been like that. We’re going to take a much morecentral and active approach to managing succession particularly in those critical jobroles and leadership roles.Government IQIn your response, you mentioned junior employees in your organization. So, howdo you create and design talent management program that promote mentoringand career progression for them?Benjamin NealWell, I think that’s a little more difficult. The short answer would be, by understandingboth the needs of your organisation from the succession in talents perspective and alsothe personal and professional preference of an individual. I think one of the key parts ofany good talent management process is that you think not only to catalog what theorganisation needs from its critical job roles and from its task people, but youunderstand the needs of your talent people and their preferences so that you can createthat beautiful mix of where those two can come together. It’s very easy to say and noteasy to do, but that is where we want to get and that’s what we’re trying to do. Some ofthe most difficult conversations you can have with staff are those where talent andambition is on the line, and need to give out the same with people managers tools tohaving those conversations and ensuring that we invest in areas where we realised areturn on our investment and mentoring and coaching and on-the-job training and stuffthat’s a lot involved than just a classroom. But learning is something where really takingfocus on advance.Government IQWhen you are reviewing your current training, learning, and some initiatives, whatdo you really look out for and how do you actually know what needs to beupdated?Benjamin NealThis question you’re asking is quite timely, because our learning and developmentbranch here in nationals in Canberra had to spend a lot of time researching anddeveloping a new global integrated curriculum. That global integrated curriculum is afull package of learning and development program that is made to create nationalconsistency and a program which all of our staff irrespective of which job family they arein can draw down on the core foundation – training what they need, the specific role, 3
  4. 4. specific job-ready training that they need, but also the things that we need in theleadership and management site. So, it’s a fully integrated curriculum and again, whichI want to take a huge capital management approach to how we implement that so thatwe’ve got a full appreciation of the training and development opportunity that we haveon offer, and matching those with personal and professional needs of the individual andthe profession.Benjamin Neal is the Acting Assistant Secretary at the Workforce, Planning, andReporting Branch at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. He’sspeaking at the Workforce Planning and Government Conference this August.For more information about this even, please visit or call 02-922-9100, or you can e-mail inquire Don’t forget, you can also follow us on Twitter at IQPC_Australia.*Please note, whilst all measures were taken to ensure this transcript’s accuracy, please visit theevent download centre to listen to the entire audio interview. 4