6 min read

Local Government Human Resource Guide: Mastering Municipal HR

By GovPilot
 

Local government human resources professionals play a vital role in securing talent for public agencies. But as the Great Resignation leaves its mark, state and government agencies face the highest number of job openings in recent decades. HR professionals must navigate this challenge — among others — to ensure local governments maintain sufficient personnel to serve residents.  

If you’re currently in the trenches of local government human resources, this may feel easier said than done. But it doesn’t have to. Below we discuss the role of municipal HR, the issues you’re facing today, and how government human resources software streamlines agency workflows to help you overcome them. 

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What Does the Modern Local Government Human Resources Department Manage?

In contrast to a private sector HR, where personnel decisions may impact a company’s bottom line, local government human resource decisions impact entire communities. Below are a few of the most significant activities that local government HR departments manage. 

Hiring and Onboarding 

Public sector HR professionals help managers hire talented government workers that serve residents in a myriad of ways, from collecting solid waste to providing social services and more. As part of this process, HR professionals collaborate with other departments to: 

  • Write or update job descriptions 
  • Upload government job postings to the agency’s website, social media pages, and job boards 
  • Screen applications 
  • Oversee the interview process 
  • Communicate job offer details to the final candidate

Municipal human resources departments also acclimate new hires to the agency by overseeing the onboarding process. As part of this onboarding process, HR professionals assist new hires in enrolling in benefit plans, integrate employees into the organization’s culture, and answer all those first-day-of-a-new-job logistical questions. 

How Should You Train Your Government Workers About Cyber Security? Read our guide for this critical onboarding step. 

Class and Comp Studies 

If a municipality doesn’t provide salaries and benefits that are competitive with regional employers, it can’t recruit the most qualified professionals possible. Local government HR departments oversee class and comp studies to assess how an agency’s salary and government benefits align — or not — with surrounding employers. HR professionals use this information to refine a government human resources strategy that attracts talented professionals to the organization and retains tenured professionals.

Professional Development, Performance Evaluations, and Employee Satisfaction 

HR professionals also develop and manage professional development opportunities to fill skill gaps and encourage continuous improvement in the organization. A robust professional development program helps employees meet their career goals, leading to career satisfaction and increased employee retention. 

This goes hand-in-hand with the performance evaluation process. This process ensures that each employee’s performance meets agency expectations and provides supervisors and employees a chance to discuss career development goals. Managers and HR professionals can also use the performance evaluation process to gain valuable insights into employee satisfaction in the organization. 

What Challenges Are Public Sector HR Departments Facing Today? 

In recent years, local government HR departments have had to go above and beyond the responsibilities listed above to meet new challenges — all while maintaining employee morale.  

Remote work

Private organizations could reduce in-person hours or encourage remote work during the pandemic. But public sector agencies are required by law to provide certain essential services, many of which must occur in person. As a result, local government human resources departments had to quickly pull together new policies and procedures that considered public health best practices while meeting community needs. 

Because many essential employees were required to work in person every day while others could telework, these policies and procedures addressed different work schedules. In some municipalities, HR professionals created new time-off policies and payment structures, such as incentive pay for essential employees or additional PTO for quarantine needs. Today, agencies that have discontinued telework face high turnover as employees leave for more flexible employment.

Maintaining competitive benefits despite budget constraints 

Budgets have always been tight in local governments, and even more so recently as governments struggle to find resources for operational, personal, and capital improvement planning budgets. This reality limits employee salaries (only 39% of public sector employees feel like their employer adequately compensates them for their contributions) and increases the likelihood of high turnover rates.  

Since increasing the personnel budget often means raising taxes, human resources departments have had to consider alternative ways to remain competitive with other employers, including offering: 

  • Flexible scheduling and telework opportunities 
  • Low-cost healthcare plans
  • Generous retirement plans 

Want to learn more? Find out How to Use Government Benefits to Attract Government Workers in our guide. 

Professionals Exiting the Field 

For decades, governments have worried about maintaining institutional knowledge despite the impending “Silver Tsunami.” The Great Resignation has compounded these fears as agencies struggle with local government employee retention. While some public sector professionals have left to work for other public sector agencies, many have exited the field entirely. This has made it increasingly difficult to fill open positions and facilitated a renewed focus on succession planning and organizational culture. Agencies must maintain institutional knowledge while cultivating a work environment that fosters long tenure.

How Can Government Human Resources Technology Improve Efficiency and Save Money? 

Feeling overwhelmed? Human resources technology can help your agency overcome today’s HR challenges. GovPilot provides tools that improve organizational efficiency and save money, so you can focus energy wherever it’s most needed.  

Online job postings and application submissions

Given the number of vacant jobs you’re trying to fill, you must provide as many ways as possible for job seekers to learn about employment opportunities. GovPilot’s online government job postings make this easy. Job seekers can browse open positions on your agency’s website and social media pages, helping your agency save money since you don’t need to rely on external job boards. 

You can also use GovPilot to receive job applications online. Rather than filling out a paper application, employees can apply for work from the comfort of their own homes. Both of these tools make it easy for a wide range of job candidates to seek employment at your agency, increasing the likelihood of finding a quality candidate sooner and reducing time and money spent on the recruitment process. 

Online employee injury reporting

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that efficient, straightforward communication between a local government HR department and its employees is invaluable — particularly when it comes to employee health and well-being. 

Government human resources technology like GovPilot’s Employee Injury Reporting provides a straightforward way for injured employees to begin the worker’s compensation process. Because Employee Injury Reporting provides you with all the information you need from the start, individuals can quickly get help while you can reduce the time it takes to process claims.

Online communications technology

Online communications technology makes it possible for HR to stay attuned to employee needs and improve their local government communications strategy. In particular, GovPilot’s online texting platform enables officials across departments to voice issues so HR professionals can gain valuable insights about personnel needs. By staying abreast of problems early on, HR professionals can take action to create a fulfilling work environment that reduces turnover (and the need to spend money and time on hiring). 

How Does Human Resources Technology Automate Job Responsibilities? 

GovPilot’s technology automates mindless tasks that take up valuable (and limited!) employee time in your agency. For example, rather than spending countless hours creating and managing a manual process to collect employee feedback, technology like GovPilot’s texting platform makes it easy to automate communication across your agency. In doing so, HR professionals have more time to actually act on feedback and improve their agency’s work environment. 

Software solutions for local government also provide employees with the tools they need to succeed in their jobs. This minimizes the feeling that government employees don’t have access to the same resources as their private counterparts, reducing the likelihood that talented employees leave the public sector to work at private corporations. 

Human Resources in Local Government - In Conclusion 

As local government human resources departments navigate increasingly complex human capital management challenges, they must modernize HR processes. Ready to learn more about how government human resources software can help your agency overcome today’s challenges? Don’t hesitate to book a consultation

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Government HR FAQs

What makes a local government an effective organization?

A recent Harvard Business Review piece summed up excellent best practices for improving organizational workflows across the board. They’re applicable to local governments too. 

Some key takeaways:

  • Encourage people to come together over common goals (e.g. policy goals)
  • Don’t settle with the status quo. Keep encouraging people to think big and innovate in an antiquated sector. 
  • Think big about the future. Issues like data breaches and natural disasters pose major challenges for local governments. Hire people well qualified to mitigate the risk these dangers hold. 

What is local government human resources?

Local government human resources, including municipal HR and county HR professionals, provide recruitment, hiring, and other human capital management support. This includes hiring the agency’s workforce, managing benefit plans, and providing professional development opportunities. Some local governments rely on a large department to provide this support, while smaller agencies may have just one or two HR professionals on staff. 

What benefits should your local government offer to find new hires and retain employees? 

In today’s job market, government employees are looking for flexible schedules, work-from-home opportunities, and a work culture that supports career goals and professional development needs. As in the past, many employees are also drawn to the robust health and retirement benefits that local governments often provide.

How does technology help HR in government? 

Government technology helps human resources by automating processes that waste valuable employee time. Additionally, the communications tools that gov tech provides offer insights into employee morale and engagement, which can help municipal HR departments create a work environment that fosters low turnover. 

When to let a government worker go? 

A robust performance evaluation process is critical to recognizing when it’s time to let a government worker go. If you have regularly documented conversations about subpar employee performance or if an employee is in direct violation of your organization’s policies and procedures, you can refer to these performance evaluations and demonstrate cause for dismissal. Learn more about overcoming ethical issues in local government.

Tags: Government Efficiency, Digital Transformation, Blog