Staff planning in the Public Sector

Staff planning in the Public Sector

The public sector is constantly evolving, and this translates to frequent exercises in efficiency and reorganization. Within this context, the government is faced with a variety of challenges. Given that these challenges generally come to light when a personnel plan (PEP) needs to be drawn up, a PEP often offers the perfect opportunity to take up a number of those challenges. However, at the same time, drawing up such a plan can often turn out to be a complex and intense process.

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The public sector is constantly evolving, and this translates to frequent exercises in efficiency and reorganization. Entities within the Flemish government are transferred to the federal government and vice versa. Not only tasks, but also staffing, budgetary, and logistics resources are transferred. Within this context, the government is faced with a variety of challenges, such as: 

  • Performing new, different or additional tasks and duties;
  • Realizing both economic (performance, efficiency and effectiveness) and social and societal added value (quality of work);
  • Functioning as a flexible, innovative organization (for example with a minimum of hierarchy and streamlined procedures); 
  • Implementing cost reduction programs within the limits imposed on the workforce (such as the budget neutral principle). 

Given that these challenges generally come to light when a personnel plan (PEP) needs to be drawn up, a PEP often offers the perfect opportunity to take up a number of those challenges. However, at the same time, drawing up such a plan can often turn out to be a complex and intense process.

 

A holistic approach will help control the complexity, re-shaping it into an opportunity for evolution and growth. 

 

Firstly, it is important to get a thorough insight into the current organization. In reality, the need to develop or adjust staff planning can rarely be seen as being unrelated to other challenges within the organization. Changes in the mission and aims of an organization, its structure, systems, or underlying processes, can greatly affect the current and future workload, and therefore also the workforce. Charting the current work processes and organization structure, together with measuring the workload, forms the starting point for the future. 

 

The future organization can subsequently be shaped, on that basis, by way of changes in one or more areas such as process design and flows, organization structure or division of workload. Consequently, it will become clear whether or not staff planning needs adjustment. Several questions can arise as a result of this. How many positions, and what types, does the organization need, given the short and long-term aims? How can the organization 'achieve more with less resources', within the workforce? How can the organization ensure a workforce capable of responding in a flexible way to the workload? Does the organization have the right skills and profiles at its disposal? How does the organization deal with unfair discrepancies in the workforce (for example, overcompensation or undercompensation)? 

 

In the case of some government organizations, this is further complicated by the fact that a new job classification system has to be taken into account. This means that existing job profiles have to be translated to this new system, and assessed, which in turn brings a great many challenges (for example, being able to distinguish between job and holder in the classification, safeguarding consistency in and around entities, estimating which processes are central to a job, etc.). Integrating all these factors, with the future organization as a starting point, is a crucial factor in formulating a well-founded staffing plan.

 

Lastly, the human aspect has a central place throughout this entire process. Change management is seen here as a supplementary, but necessary set of activities which can provide added value at any point during the process. This could vary in form from effective communication with staff and answering questions about managing resistance from parties involved (for example job holders themselves, boards of management or external parties) to preparing staff by way of training and setting up leadership courses.

 

A staffing plan, in which recommendations for change are made on both qualitative and quantitative grounds, is inextricably linked to the general organization structure and the work processes. It is not a goal in itself, but rather a springboard to realizing the policy desired. A broad-based focus and approach to this will enable an organization to be ready for the future.

© 2017 KPMG Central Services, a Belgian Economic Interest Grouping ("ESV/GIE") and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.

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