Open Gov Partner Approach: Office of Human Resources (HR)

Motivations: The Office of Human Resources (HR) is responsible for managing the staffing function of the organization, administering employee benefits, evaluating performance of employees, assessing employee satisfaction, providing dispute resolution and mediation services, and driving towards a model workplace. HR shops value the consistent and fair treatment of all employees. They ensure employees are fulfilled, developed, and supported in their workplace, and that a safe and confidential space for employees to resolve disputes is provided. HR shops adhere to the needs of the employees and work alongside internal operations teams, so tend to have less interaction with the public than the other Open Gov involved offices, except for recruitment efforts. Thus, HR shops have a unique pulse on the nature of an organization’s workforce: their technological maturity, their adaptability, their satisfaction, and their skills sets. Open Gov Programs can ultimately help HR shops achieve better results. One Open Gov program that has reached HR and improved employee satisfaction, is the TSA Ideafactory. This internal tool creates a means for thousands of TSA employees to submit ideas for how to advance the organization and improve morale that are then rated and ranked by their peers, evaluated by TSA HQ, and implemented as appropriate. This tool has been wildly successful at TSA and many HR departments are interested in adopting this program (including DHS).

Social media also offers an opportunity for organizations to recruit differently than they have ever before. In addition to the popular job boards (monster, hotjobs, careerbuilder, indeed, etc.), several federal agencies are now posting open positions on twitter, facebook, craigslist, doostang, linkedin and many other networking or social sites—enabling a more diverse and larger population to be targeted for federal jobs.

Approach: Since HR shops understand employees needs uniquely, they require a seat at the Open Gov table. When creating an Open Gov strategy, HR shops will be particularly concerned with the following questions:

  • How can gov 2.0 tools create an organizational culture that empowers employees and allows them to better collaborate with one another?
  • Will employee codes of conduct need to be modified at all to account for social media use? How will use of social media be regulated?
  • Prior to implementation, what legal considerations are important to review? How will these rules and regulations be communicated to employees/users?
  • How will Open Gov programs affect employee satisfaction? How will satisfaction be measured?
  • How will Open Gov change the way we recruit new employees?
  • How “ready” are employees for new ways of collaborating and participating with web-based technologies? How do we encourage employees to use these tools and transform the culture?

Partner’s Bottom Line: HR shops may be an unexpected partner at the Open Gov table. However, their role is critical in transforming the culture of the organization. HR shops should keep in mind the following when participating in Open Gov efforts:

  • Catalyze culture change within the organization. Open Gov will only work if new habits are encouraged from the inside out, and the principles of transparency, collaboration and participation are institutionalized. Help other Open Gov partners determine the tools they have to institutionalize these principles.
  • Be open. There will be risks with any new Open Gov program and it will be difficult, to predict how employees will receive new programs. But risks should be managed, not be the impetus for the status quo.
  • Be realistic. Open Gov programs, like IdeaFactory can achieve significant internal value for organizations in terms of employee satisfaction and cultivating a culture of openness and collaboration. However, these changes are not felt overnight—be patient but realistic in goals for metrics.

(Note: This is a part of a series that was originally posted on the Phase One Consulting Group, Government Transformation Blog when I was an employee there.