Human Capital Management Challenges Facing Government Contractors Today & Tomorrow

Posted by Amy Champigny on September 12, 2019

2019 Clarity GovCon Industry Study Human Capital Management

By Amy Champigny, Senior Product Marketing Specialist, Deltek

As part of the 10th Annual Deltek Clarity Government Contracting Industry Study webinar series, now available on demand, we took a deep dive into the Human Capital Management (HCM) results to reveal exactly what is working, and what might need more effort in the coming year. The results demonstrated significant strides forward in HCM, specifically around reducing turnover.

Finding, Acquiring and Securing Talent it Still a Major Concern

In order to build high performance teams, meet staff growth goals, and fill important skills gaps within the workforce, firms need to locate, and then convince, would-be candidates they need to accept an offer from your company over one or two competing offers. This was proven as companies identified their top three acquisition challenges:

#1  51% of respondents indicated that the availability of good candidates in the marketplace was a top challenge

#2  41% of respondents stated that one of the top challenges was attracting better qualified talent

#3  30% of respondents chose the ability to offer competitive compensation to candidates as one of the biggest challenges.

#1 Qualified Candidates are Scarce

If there is one thing we know for sure, it is that qualified talent is hard to find. This is especially true when firms find themselves with an inability to locate talent with highly specialized skills. When a candidate can choose between multiple offers, companies must differentiate themselves as employers. This is a change from years past, as it used to be candidates needed to stand out, but in the current climate, the roles have been reversed. There are several ways you can improve talent acquisition activities and ultimately find the right talent.

Track important recruitment key performance indicators (KPIs) to help measure the success of your current recruiters and acquisition strategy. For example, knowing what job boards provide the highest number of qualified candidates can help you to streamline your processes and reduce costs by being more discerning about which candidate sources you choose to leverage.

#2 If You Build It, They Will Come

What happens when you do find great candidates? When candidates have gone through the recruiting process, including assessments, background screenings, security checks, and interviews, why do they turn down the offer? Do not underestimate the cost of a refused offer. This often places the recruiter back at square one in the hiring process, sifting through resumes for the new hires needed yesterday to start on a new contract. This is why attracting talent is such an important aspect of recruiting and why it was identified as another top challenge for government contractors.

Prioritize and build an effective employer brand strategy to increase candidate awareness of what the company offers before a resume is even submitted. Building strong relationships with prospective candidates is another way you can help entice top performers to apply to job postings. A candidate who feels an affiliation with a company before an offer is extended will be more likely to accept over what is being put forth by the competition. Leveraging Candidate Relationship Management tools can deepen the prospect pool and have a significant impact on the ability to find, attract and secure top candidates by helping to create a talent pipeline.

#3 Offer the Right Compensation Packages

Compensation packages can be the difference between securing talent, keeping talent and losing a high performer to the competition. Offering competitive compensation was once again identified as a top challenge during the recruiting cycle. Additionally, it is important to assess appropriate compensation to retain existing talent. This is why benchmarking is so important to the annual process. If benchmarking is not part of your annual process, it is a good time to add in this important step. Compare existing compensation packages against others in the industry and with similar roles outside of the industry. Competition is fierce, particularly for highly specialized roles. Those candidates can choose which industry they want to focus on.

Engagement and Retention of Existing Employees Takes Center Stage

In the world of HCM there are two sides to the coin. Firms work hard to find, attract and secure great candidates, but if they are not able to offer the right post-hire support, those hard won candidates may move on way too soon. The top three Human Resource (HR) Management challenges identified in this year’s study were:

#1  39% of participants reported that retaining top talent was one of the biggest HR Management challenges

#2  26% of respondents indicated that succession and development planning posed a significant challenge for HR Management professionals

#3  25% participants pointed to effective performance management as a top HR Management challenge.

#1 The Employee Experience and Talent Retention

A new emphasis on the employee experience may seem like a one-sided transaction, but a balanced employee experience offers a significant return on investment. The modern workforce is looking for a place to find meaning, shared values and a supportive environment that fosters growth. Think of it this way, employee engagement drives the employee experience in part. It includes every interaction and impression an employee has with a firm, starting with the first time they interact with a job requisition and employer brand.

The best way to start is to asses performance management processes, employee recognition programs and learning plans, and then prioritize the changes that will provide employees with the development and recognition they crave.

#2 Succession and Career Development Planning May be Your New Secret Weapon

If there is one thing the results of this year’s Clarity Survey showed us, it is that firms faced with resource planning challenges can no longer assume they will be able to hire themselves out of a skills shortage. Over 50% of responding firms indicated that the availability of good candidates in the marketplace was a top challenge. If we accept that fact, then it follows that companies need to support their existing workforce and plan for the future from within. If companies have success plans in place, what are the nature of those plans? Are those succession plans actively managed and providing effective preparation for employees identified as successors? Too often, succession plans live in the minds of a manager or two. They are neither strategic nor comprehensive, and they aren’t regularly assessed.

It’s not always feasible to tell an employee they have been identified as a potential successor, but by working with them to create a development plan, you can show the employee the firm is willing to invest in their future. That is often enough to keep talent with your firm longer. Firms who are actively creating and executing development plans with employees, could consider sharing information about these programs with prospective candidates as a way to differentiate the company as a top employer. Finding ways to tie employee engagement initiatives to employer branding can attract more candidates and even entice passive candidates.

#3 Modernizing Performance Management

Managing the performance of the workforce is complex, which is partly why it was identified as one of the top three HR Management challenges again this year. What is it that makes a performance management practice more successful than another option? One of the most important things to consider when reviewing existing performance management practices is whether they align with the way an organization works. Relying exclusively on annual performance reviews that require a considerable amount of manual effort may result in missed opportunities to drive continuous improvement. Shorter performance cycles formalize continuous improvement and help employees to carry forward lessons learned from one project to the next, more rapidly developing the skills and competencies firms need in the workforce.

Continuous feedback was identified as a top HR technology trend by 43% of survey participants this year. Continuous feedback is not a new concept, but it does require thoughtful development and formalization to be impactful. If this is a key initiative a company has identified for the future, it’s important to start by assessing what employees and managers gain from the change. Some of the most common benefits include, deeper and more engaged relationships between managers and employees, more rapid development and increased productivity and retention.

Other Key Takeaways

When identifying the right HCM initiatives, it’s key to make sure they align with top challenges. When people are truly the greatest asset, strategic talent acquisition and retention can both become key competitive differentiators. The right talent thoughtfully engaged and developed can set firms on a path toward growth.

Take an in-depth look at key challenges, bright spots and future trends in relation to HCM in the 10th Annual Deltek Clarity Government Contracting Industry Study Deep Dive: Human Capital Management webinar.

Want to explore more specific results from the Deltek Clarity Government Contracting Study? Register for the complete, in-depth webinar series.