What do we need to look at?
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We need to take collective action
We need to review the human resources framework to understand why its inherent flexibilities are not being fully exploited by managers and if there are unnecessary regulations that need to be eliminated or adjusted to allow greater flexibility, particularly as it relates to recruitment. For example, managers need to make full use of the staffing flexibilities under the Public Service Employment Act and Regulations. They in turn are asking for a more streamlined, responsive staffing process that better focusses on results while supporting the commitment to a meritorious, high quality, representative, non-partisan Public Service that reflects fairness, transparency and equity in practice. The Public Service Commission has developed the Values-Based Management Framework in response to this concern, and it will work with departments to streamline their staffing processes and help managers meet their recruitment needs.
We need to build stronger partnerships between corporate service branches and hiring managers. Human resources, finance and other corporate service branches can demonstrate modern comptrollership at work with a move to strategic business planning and a focus on rejuvenating the workforce. These groups have important functional roles. They can project future needs and competency requirements. They can plan and meet financial and other resource implications of forward-looking recruitment initiatives. They can bring their knowledge and experience to bear to develop innovative recruitment and retention processes and enable funding for transition staffing and other innovations where needed.
As talent has no borders, managers, with the help of their departments and central agencies, need to be able to reach out for new recruits in as many places as possible. This could include offering jobs to Canadians who have studied abroad. Interest was expressed by the Sub-Committee in reviewing options for hiring recruits who are not Canadian citizens. This issue is presently with the Supreme Court of Canada.
It is important to create more inventories and pools of pre-qualified recruits, as was done with the information technology community. In their response to the Clerk's call letter, departments reported that there was a demand for this service either from the centre or across departments with similar needs. The regulatory and inspection community, science and technology, and communications are a few of the functional groups that either have a high demand or anticipate large-scale hiring.
In some cases, there may be a need to provide access to bridge funds to support recruitment, and the Treasury Board Secretariat is prepared to look at business cases where strategic targeted needs are identified. In other cases, this will be delivered through reallocation and risk management. Many departments will need a kind of transitional staffing that will enable them to bring new staff on strength to develop the skills and basic experience that will prepare them for projected vacancies in years to come. An example of this is the emeritus concept, where an employee in pre-retirement status coaches the new recruit and transfers corporate memory that is key to the position. At the core, this does not mean a larger Public Service over the long-term.
We must provide clarity around the concept of merit, recognizing that it is central to the recruitment strategy. This means that all hiring managers and human resources specialists must understand how merit is applied in an environment characterized by recruitment and diversity and what measures are necessary. The Public Service Commission, as the guardian of merit, is prepared to work with departments that wish to examine the rules and guidelines that they may have created over many years but that may no longer be necessary in the move to a values-based approach to staffing. In this way, merit will better match the realities of contemporary society and provide for better outcomes and performance, while valuing different talents.
Competitive compensation packages are required, especially in large metropolitan centres. In cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, the strong labour market provides pay scales that outpace Public Service pay scales. This creates general recruitment and retention issues. Because both areas have large visible minority communities, a competitive Public Service compensation package combined with challenging, leading-edge work may be essential to attracting and retaining these workers.
Mobility across the broader public sector must be encouraged to provide for more opportunities. Especially at a regional level, the opportunity for people to move easily between one public service employer and another, as well as within and outside of the public sector, can be an excellent way to attract needed skills and experience. As the Public Service moves forward on E–government, these exchanges are invaluable for integrating the technology with other levels of government and outside of the Public Service. While exchange programs exist now, strategies to facilitate more permanent and flexible mobility merit assessment.
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