The Government workforce of the future

Government needs talented and high performing civil servants. Yet we know that the civil service has longstanding weaknesses in key areas such as finance, commercial and digital – a key finding of our recent Government Digital Trends Survey. And recruitment and retention is challenging when cuts are made to operational costs, wage rises are frozen and posts are cut.

The recently published Civil Service Workforce Plan makes the case for developing professional skills and expertise in government. There is a commitment to open up the civil service, allowing more external recruitment and opportunities for secondments in other sectors. And the benefits of diversity, reducing the dominance of people from a narrow range of socio-economic backgrounds, is also recognised.

The civil service will need to rapidly put these plans into action, especially as it expands its professional skills and expertise to deliver digital projects at scale across Whitehall and the wider public sector.

The civil service needs the right number of people with the right skills in the right place at the right time to deliver short and long-term departmental objectives. What might be the building blocks for this?

First, workforce planning requires alignment of departmental goals and objectives and the human resources available. The workforce implications of any programme need to be considered and planned for from the outset, both in terms of any anticipated staff needs or redeployment and in terms of managing the change so as to minimise disruption and protect capacity and continuity of service.

Second, skills and competencies gaps need to be identified. This means determining the current resources and how they will evolve over time through, for example, turnover. Then comparing this with the kind, number and location of staff needed to meet the strategic objectives of the department. This assessment will determine the existing gaps in terms of numbers and competencies between the current and projected workforce needs.

Third, defining an action plan to address the most critical gaps facing departments so that human resources can support departmental strategies. The more effort expanded in stakeholder engagement during the action planning stage, including consultation with industry, the greater the likelihood of a more coordinated approach to implementation. Depending on the gaps, the action plan may address recruitment, selection, compensation, training/retraining, restructuring, outsourcing, performance management, succession planning, diversity, quality of life, retention, technological enhancements, etc.

Finally, it is also critical – particularly in fast moving sectors like technology and digital – to secure an effective workforce now and in the future. This means identifying emerging skills that can support a high performing civil service, including leveraging technology better.

Are you a civil servant involved in securing an effective workforce now and in the future? Do you think the Civil Service Workforce Plan will lead to a more sophisticated process for workforce planning? Or are you an organisation in the private sector or civil society with an innovative approach to recruiting and retaining staff? Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below, or contact me by email.

Gamification for business

­ “Employees’ engagement has evolved from money oriented approaches (pay-check, bonus, promotion) to a complex and diverse approach based on intrinsic motivational theory (mastery, autonomy, purpose)”

A current trend on supporting user engagement is gamification. Gamification is a concept of using game mechanics to non-game environments to create an engagement process to allow users to obtain higher perceived value of service use, such as social interaction or productivity of actions.

The game mechanics are closely related to game design addressing the human motivators of socializing, learning, mastery, competition, achievement and status. Gamification, deriving from game design, has the same underlying goal:

Generate positive experiences for the players/users engaged in an activity where interactive play is also referred to as “gameplay” focuses on the process of use, rather on the results of the process

The psychological aspects of gaming, i.e the user experience (UX) and the game mechanics are the tools for structuring and providing the gameplay, and comprise of rules, defined behaviour and user actions.

At present, the maximum impact of gamification has been on education and health environments. However, the gamification strategy is a concept emerging in business processes, and in particular in internal management of employees.

Gamification, following the structure of the gameplay (rules, defined behavior and user actions), can influence employees’ behaviour due to its use of motivational drivers of reinforcements and emotions:

  • Both positive and negative reinforcements encourage repetition of behaviours: behaviour leading to a satisfying outcome is likely to be repeated, while behaviour leading to an unsatisfying outcome is less likely to be sustained
  • Emotions effect users’ behaviour on whether they want to continue the activity or not. A mix of emotions is important for the user’s engagement. You need to have both positive emotions such as excitement, amusement, personal triumph etc. and negative emotions such as disappointment not achieving a reward to create a state of engagement

Successful gamification involves repetition of behaviours: by providing rewards and emotional responses for users following particular behaviours, then that can become an automatic user process or habit.

For example, I was recently asked by a client in the automotive industry to explain where and how these concepts could be applied in a scenario of motivating dealers to follow procedure.

In this context, the gamified business process can be utilised in influencing the desired behaviour – dealers to follow the same rules and procedures (business goal) and be rewarded for their effort to do so (repetitive behaviour).

The simplest game mechanics used here could be the ones relevant to competition and rewards which can take the shape of recognition status in a company’s dealer’s leader-board (emotional response on the high status among peers) and extend to dealers understand business processes as a result.

All organisations need to motivate and engage their employees – performance, teams’ collaboration and customer service are dependent on employee’s engagement.

In the example of automotive industry and the dealers’ network, the business depends on whether or not each dealer is mentally and emotionally focused on the company’s goal of following procedure, that goal is fundamental for the business success. Gamification can be an approach on achieving this. Taking lessons from the game domain, an effective gamified experience can motivate the users behaviour based on the desired business rules and goals, while increase users’ engagement participating in that experience.

Is it time for a game?

Leave a reply below or contact me by email.

Motivate your people using digital ways of working

It’s not just about the money! An employee’s performance at work is motivated by a range of factors; some extrinsic like pay or benefits and others intrinsic like job satisfaction. So how could an organisation use digital transformation to help build and sustain employee motivation? Here are some ideas…

  • Service improvement hackathons: These time-boxed workshops have been used to drive innovation and collaboration in software development over the last fifteen years. The principles of this approach could be adapted by an organisation to empower different (often disparate) business units to work together to solve strategic or operational issues affecting the services they provide. People get to apply their skills and experience together to solve a genuine business issue – a great source of intrinsic motivation!
  • Performance benchmarking: An organisation could engage in a form of “coopetition” with competitors to gather real time, comparable (anonymous) data about staff performance. This application of Big Data Analytics would enable employees to continually evaluate and improve their own performance using real world indicators – peer group review as a form of intrinsic motivation.
  • Employee cloud services: Given the falling costs of running B2B services using cloud (including the potential for economies of scale), an organisation could extend such capabilities to provide its employees with a range of personal IT services for free. These could include private file storage, office and gaming software or even data services (for phone calls, broadband etc). These extrinsic tangible benefits would reduce employees’ living costs and could be scaled according to length of service or grade to drive retention and performance.
  • Social media recognition: Organisations typically use the same social media channels as their employees. Consequently a team or individual could have their own organisation-endorsed social media profile. Although it would probably need to be governed by an agreed organisational policy and need some form of moderation, it would enable employees to share team or individual successes publicly, flag any issues they have at work and positively promote the organisation’s products or services. This application of personal branding drives intrinsic motivation by strengthening the trust between the organisation and its employees.

My closing thought? The key unifying idea of the examples above is about motivating employees by bringing them closer to their customers, competitors and organisation – such benefits are at the heart of digital transformation.

If you would like more information about how digital transformation can benefit your organisation please contact the Sopra Steria Digital Practice.

Digital Transformation: the Chief HR Officer’s dilemma

People make digital transformation a success

Their ability to effectively adopt (and adapt) digital ways of working and technology drives sustainable competitive advantage. So how can a Chief HR Officer (CHRO) transform and motivate people to realise the benefits of digital for their organisation?  Here are a few ideas…

Workforce re-skilling or up-skilling

Across social media there is talk daily of new ways to deliver projects and services. “Waterfall” approaches in particular are being seen increasingly as too cumbersome and unresponsive for both B2C and B2B customers.

But that shouldn’t mean people who are skilled and experienced in such approaches no longer have value for an organisation. If anything, it’s not the fact they use “Waterfall” that counts, rather it’s their industrialised and tacit capabilities that delivers benefit. Furthermore, should these resources choose to exit an organisation en masse, it will probably be weakened severely (possibly in terminal decline) anyway.

Consequently, re-skilling and up-skilling activities (like training or mentoring) should be cognizant of the value every person brings to the organisation – no one gets left behind.

These activities are also vital at a time when potentially many people are feeling vulnerable because they feel their skills and experience no longer fit in a rapidly changing digital world. Yet it is their competency, performance and motivation that will make digital transformation successful.

Team risk organisational culture

Innovating products and services using digital confers competitive advantage. Agile’s philosophy of “fail fast, fail often” enables such innovation. To realise the benefits of Agile-enabled innovation requires people to have the confidence to fail and learn effectively from this iterative experience.

People should also feel they are not being blamed individually when innovation fails – for digital transformation to succeed (controlled) risk and reward must be shared by the whole team. Consequently it’s essential an organisation builds genuinely integrated business and IT teams that take risks together to maximise the opportunities for innovation. This cultural value is intrinsic to helping motivate people’s performance because individuals, teams and the organisation as a whole demonstrate that they care about the same things.

Always aim for better

In an environment where people are making grand claims about their digital transformation skills it’s essential to remember that trust and authority should not be assumed; it must be earned. This approach must come from the top of an organisation and also be a key factor when recruiting resources. Only when everyone in an organisation demonstrates thought leadership and commitment to digital will such transformation succeed.

If you would like to find out more about how digital transformation can benefit your business, please leave a reply below, or contact the Sopra Steria Digital Practice.

Mixed gender teams are more successful

.. And it has been proven by academic research. Single sex teams do not show the same flare or creativity as a mixed team and therefore are less successful. It’s not an earth shattering headline until you realise that only 13% of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) jobs in the UK are occupied by women.

Equality in the tech workplace, it seems, still eludes us and the reasons for this start early with girls tending to choose topics at school and university that are less male-dominated. The statistics show that social norms and societal expectations are pressure enough to drive girls into careers where their gender is less noticeable.

It is not all bad news though, as women become successful leaders in their chosen fields and as the world of business cranks up the opportunity provided by digital innovation, women and technology become reacquainted. Fifty women were identified last year through Inspire Fifty, a pan European initiative to encourage, develop, identify and showcase women in leadership positions within the technology sector: of these women, 17 lived and worked in the UK. So women are finding more opportunity in the UK in comparison with the rest of Europe, but there is no room for complacency.

It’s known that women are generally not so good at pushing themselves forward and believing in their own capabilities. A man is much more likely to “go for it” than a woman. Harriet Minter, Editor of the Women in Leadership section of the Guardian recommends that girls and women to “proceed until apprehended”, to not ask for permission before doing something that we believe in but to just go ahead and do it.

As a woman working within the field of technology I have had the full range of experience from being the sole woman in a peer group meeting (only red dress in a sea of grey suits), being mistaken for the lady who does the coffee at a meeting (I’m not bad at making coffee but that was not why I was there), leading a team where the dominance of women inadvertently silenced the only male member, to being part of a mixed team that was diverse, energetic and high performing.

I also have the experience of talking to people about developing their careers as a coach and mentor. Most of the coachees were women – wonderful women with incredible skills and abilities who were not sure how or whether they should make the next step in their career. The key is always to step past the fear of failure and do something, but it helps to have an ally or a mentor that will help you along the way when you feel a wobble in your intentions.

It is for many of these reasons that Nadira Hussain, president of Socitm, is keen to give women in the IT industry more visibility and recognition to become the role models young girls can aspire to be. Socitm is setting up a Woman in IT Network to offer coaching, mentoring and open discussions about career choices in both the public and private sectors . Getting involved in these networks can help guide women and young girls into an exciting and rewarding career within an industry that is growing rapidly. For the industry to be at its best we need diversity at all levels up to the board room.

What’s your view? Leave a reply below or contact me by email.

Young Scot Awards 2015: celebrating young people in Scotland

Last week I was privileged to attend the 2015 Young Scot Awards in the Usher Hall in Edinburgh. The night is a celebration of the success of young people in Scotland who have made various amazing contributions to the improve the lives of people in their communities.  A suite of celebrities were involved in the hosting and presentation of the awards, including Edith Bowman, the band Prides (definitely the loudest contributors, especially from my seat), Conor Maynard, Stevia McCrorie and Pudsey the Dog (the only one I recognised …). young-scot-performingFrom our table in the front row we got the full 360 degree sound experience – music to front and screaming to the rear. All the nominees and winners were very impressive, with the overall award going to Jak Truman for his inspirational fund raising efforts before his untimely death from cancer in February 2015.

The event made me think about the importance of young people to a company like Sopra Steria. Every year we recruit a significant number of graduates into all areas of the company (104 under 24s in 2014). Working with young people challenges us all to take a fresh approach to our work. Our graduates are invariably keen, work hard, liven things up, and bring a fresh perspective to digital technologies. Some of our projects may not involve the sort of systems they imagined they would work on while at university, e.g. paying farmer’s claims, court case management solutions and prison management systems but they always adapt quickly and successfully (although without the reward of meeting Pudsey).

All our graduates start with an induction programme and then move on to work on various projects, potentially involving a range of technologies and types of clients. We make sure our graduates have more experienced people to mentor them, as well as a buddy to help them settle in. See information about our Graduate opportunities.

In a similar way the Young Scot Awards show that with a little support and encouragement young people can achieve great things and make a real difference.

Many thanks to my hosts SOLACE (the UK representative body for Local Authority Chief Executives), Young Scot for organising a very inspiring and professional event, and above all to the many fantastic young people who were nominated for, and won, the awards.

On a personal note, my 16 year old daughter is part of a Young Scot focus group and was also enjoying the show. However no thanks for the text telling me I looked bald from her seat in the Grand Circle.

Make your enterprise social media initiative a success

Enterprise social media initiatives (ESI) such as the introduction of Yammer or Lync communication and collaboration tools can make a big difference to the digital transformation of an organisation.

Here are my top tips for maxmising the tangible and intangible benefits of an ESI for your business, employees and customers:

1. Focus on improving processes
Use enterprise social media tools to accelerate or optimise existing business processes – it’s not just an intranet replacement; it should drive competitive advantage.

2. Connect with the real world
Talk to your employees daily about insights and challenges they raise on your enterprise social media channels to reduce organisational risks and improve performance.

3. Be Visual. Be Relevant. Be Exciting!
Just like any other social media channel, ESI content should be engaging and informative to ensure employees get benefit quickly.

4. Use your enterprise social initiative to improve customer engagements
Employee generated content should directly inform product/service development – ESI empowers your people to innovate and own the customer experience.

Potential benefits of a successful enterprise social initiative:

  • Less time spent on low value activities
  • Lower risk of silo working
  • Better employee engagement
  • Bottom up innovation

If you would like to find out more about how an enterprise social media initiative can benefit your business please leave a reply below, or contact the Sopra Steria Digital Practice.