The strategic management of human capital was designated a high-risk area by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) in February 2011. As part of strategic management, agencies already include HR in broad workforce planning across mission areas. They also need to apply the same principles to HR workforce development to better identify and close skill gaps and develop robust workforce plans which will help ensure HR becomes a strategic advisor.

In our last blog post, we talked about leadership, expertise, and the requirement to invest time and money into training for the Federal HR Workforce. A recent step towards developing a comprehensive training plan was the launch of the Federal HR Institute (FHRI) offering courses at the apprentice, practitioner, and expert levels. There is also an associated certification under development. Other options for training are available through OPM’s HR Services as well as commercial providers like Graduate School USA, Management Concepts, etc.[1]

To maximize the utilization of scarce training dollars and the temporary impact on productivity, focus on the “so what” of the training and clearly articulate the Return on Investment (ROI) of sending the employee to attend training. One method of maximizing the ROI is to require the student to provide one ‘lunch and learn’ training session for each day of training attended. For example, if an employee goes to a two-day course on Employee Relations, they have to provide two lunch and learn sessions that cover the learning objectives of the course for their peers. For agencies with distributed HR workforce, the lunch and learn could be broadcast live via WebEx, Zoom, etc. and/or recorded for future use. As a result, the workforce collectively becomes a bit smarter.

Agencies should also invest in the creating of a central ‘learning hub’ with curated content, course summaries, white papers written by employees, articles of interest, etc. Having a central repository of knowledge content that is easily searchable, combined with some time for employee self-study will also pay dividends in HR workforce development.

The keys to success are planning and consistency. HR leaders must invest the time to create an achievable workforce development plan, ensure fair opportunity to training, hold trainees accountable for their half of the ROI, and consistently invest. The knowledge gap(s) will not be closed immediately, but as long as there is a regular cadence of training and sharing, it will not take long to achieve a high-performing HR workforce.

[1] Links to training sources are not endorsements by Chainbridge Solutions, Inc.