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Posts tagged ‘Public sector’

In Search of the Perfect Paycheck

The same scenario plays out every week.  Employees do their job and employers pay them for that job.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, sometimes processes break-down and that paycheck is impacted.  Have you ever had a paycheck that was inaccurate, late, or worse didn’t come at all?  Suddenly, the employee and employer have an issue at hand that has more than just monetary implications.

According to a new survey from The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated an estimated 82 million1 Americans – more than half of the U.S. workforce – have experienced a problem with their paycheck during their career.  The results of the survey go on to say that more than a quarter (26 percent) of hourly workers have been paid too little, while 15 percent say they’ve been paid late. For the salaried worker, 15 percent say they’ve been shortchanged in their check and 16 percent report being paid late.

On the flip side of things, there’s also the issue of paying employees too much.  Calculations errors aren’t uncommon when time & attendance is tracked on paper.  The survey found, on average, American workers say they must likely be overpaid a staggering $463 before alerting their employer to the mistake.

Public sector employers have an additional risk to adverse side effects from an incorrect paycheck.  Regardless of underpayment or overpayment, the threat of the media putting a spotlight on perceived wasteful spending is real.  It signifies a weakness that the organization isn’t in complete control over their payroll processes.

The truth is, Payroll employees are often over-burdened by illegible hand-writing, late or incomplete time sheets, and the sheer volume of paper that comes in.  With this environment comes the potential for errors. Looking for areas of efficiency can lead to better accuracy and even cost savings.

Footnote 1: Calculation based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report from January 2017 that estimates there are 152.08 million employed people in the U.S.: 152.08M x 54% = 82.12 million.

The Year of Retention

Retention seems to be a popular word this year.  HR leaders across all levels of government are in a state of worry.  Attract and retain…  Attract and retain…  This is the mantra by which public sector employers are living and breathing.  So what’s all the fuss about?

As more employees are reaching retirement age, they know a plethora of knowledge will be walking out the door with each employee.  So governments are deep in succession planning and strategizing to address this.  But it’s also made many acutely aware that they need to figure out ways to retain this new generation of employees who are filling in these gaps.  With pensions in the condition they are and pay often lower than the private sector, what’s the draw to make them want to stay?

Regardless of the generation, people still believe in making a difference.  Whether it’s for their community or to make a difference in peoples lives, public service tends to draw people in.  But it doesn’t necessarily make them want to stay.  Employees want to be recognized for a job well done and offered opportunities to advance their careers.  They want to be part of decision making and know their voice is being heard.

According to an article written by Neil Reichenburg of IPMA-HR, Getting the Right People, employee engagement matters. “Engaged employees are five times more likely to be very satisfied, five times more likely to recommend their place of employment to others, and four times less likely to leave.

Engagement is not a one-size fits all; we are all individuals.  What motivates one person, might not motivate the next.  As managers and leaders address the reality of what retention means to their organization, they will discover there are multiple paths to create an environment employees can thrive in. And maybe, the employees who came into the public sector for the right reasons will want to stay a little while longer.


A Primer on Public Sector Big Data

Today’s blog is from Don Pagel, VP Public Sector Services at Kronos.

Big Data, Data Warehousing, Data Marts, Analytics, Business Intelligence….all are part of the same evolution of the growing digital world, the data it generates and the structured information contained therein.


As computer systems began to house databases of transactional data, users and executives have asked for more and more “reporting” from those systems to investigate problems, maximize efficiencies within processes, and my favorite in the public sector, or determine solutions or answers based on factual information rather than supposition or anecdotal experiences. In recent years the data generated by all of the systems we use and the potential interrelated information from disparate systems has generated voluminous amounts of data…thus “Big Data”.


The public sector is beginning to use analytical tools to mine all of the data they have to inform their constituents, look for efficiencies and also to help off-set some political “agendas” by focusing on facts. Public safety organizations use collected data to look for geographical or date-specific trends to help staff for the best use of safety manpower as well as educate the public on what is going on in their areas. Human resource departments regularly extract and update public pay and benefits data to reduce demand on their staff for public information requests. Executives are finding value in workforce management data to determine labor productivity and improve resource and budget management. Finance departments are unifying all of their collections data into one analytical format from disparate systems in order to gage how well they are collecting outstanding fines and fees, develop metrics to monitor and look for ways to enhance processes to improve collections. Parking and Police departments are collaborating on vast amounts of data collected by license plate recognition equipment and software to share information that can be valuable to both organizations. Parking departments are also learning the value of parking transaction data for both numerous supply and demand calculations as well as justifying new garage or meter placements. Traffic managers have long used data to determine traffic patterns but now can use that same data to automate lane use or determine where the next road work or expansion is necessary.


Putting some thought into structuring data within a larger organization that may contain multiple systems can lead to an easier delivery of many of the above ideas, allow for “drill-down” structured online reporting as well as simpler ad-hoc querying to more easily find true factual information in a political environment. This is not generally an inexpensive project, but it can pay off handsomely for years to come. If your organization hasn’t started a Big Data project, I suggest you consider the following:


  • Take an assessment of all of the different important systems you have and determine their purpose.
  • What data is being stored on each system?
  • Are their proprietary analytic programs already on a system that can be used to export data to a larger environment?
  • Is there an opportunity in an external database to link these disparate data sets together? Over time, you may initiate some data normalization of different systems in order to link data easier.
  • Now that you have a data storage strategy for your important data, what are your current pain points that you most want to solve with data? Start small or start focused on just those pain points. There will be a tendency to over-develop analytics that may or may not be useful. Since you spent time up front on your data storage strategy, you can build them as needed so they have the greatest impact and potential use by your organizations.
  • Develop a plan to use the analytical tools developed in a structured way or using a process. In other words, don’t just make them available, develop a process or policy for their use.
  • Use dashboards that are visible to wide audiences so that there is a natural draw to the information as well as a natural desire to improve the results. Visibility can create powerful competition.
  • Develop education around the data being displayed. Don’t assume that others will know what the data is saying or how to use it to improve results.


In short, Big Data is collecting the vast amounts of data we have and putting it to good public use. You have the data, it’s a shame for it to go to waste

Efficiency and the role of HR Technology

Remember the old days when your employer handed you a blank piece of paper with some boxes to fill in your hours worked and called it a “timesheet”?  That little piece of paper stood between you and an accurate paycheck.  It only had to go through three other hands (your manager, the mail courier, and a payroll clerk) to be manually entered into a system that processed the payroll checks.  Scary,right?

Unfortunately, too many organizations still rely on this manual, antiquated system of collecting employee’s time and other processes.  The Public Sector is notorious for being behind the times when it comes to technology, but HR departments have a lot of pressure to be more efficient.  In a recent blog by HR Bartender, Sharlyn Lauby states “It’s time to realize that HR and technology are forever intertwined. More and more human resources functions and solutions have a technology component to them. Human resources technology is part of our jobs. Frankly, technology is part of our jobs – no matter what position or level in the organization. Period.”1  How I interpret that statement is “put budget and the “we’ve always done it this way” sentiments aside and just explore what is out there”.

An open mind can lead to some innovative ideas that don’t necessarily change your entire way to doing things.  Remember the goal is efficiency.   Taking an existing process and just finding a more streamline way of doing it.  Let’s look at a couple of HR technology examples:

  • Village of Schaumburg, IL2 – With internal communication primarily being done through the village’s intranet site, Schaumburg knew it needed to modernize this approach and move to social media.  They quickly adopted a portal hub for all village employees.  Now, projects are open for all to share information, track progress, and keep phone/email communication to a minimum.
  • City of Orlando, FL3 – After being hit by three hurricanes in under 6 weeks, the city was going to have to rely heavily on FEMA funds.  Instead of manually calculating hours dedicated to the clean-up and public safety needs during those events, Orlando took advantage of their automated time tracking system for quick, real-time reporting on labor hours.  All leading to quick and accurate reimbursement.

So, if I can get you to walk away with one goal for the New Year, it’s to venture out into the world of HR Technology and see what’s new.  Go for some test drives, look under hoods, and kick a few tires.  You may be more ready for a change than you think.



1 HR Technology and 2014 – #HRTechtrends – HR Bartender, Sharlyn Lauby, posted 12/12/13

2 Village of Schaumburg Case Study – SuccessFactors

3 City of Orlando Case Study – Kronos

Public Service is a dangerous job. No, really, it is!!

According to a recent Governing Magazine article the Public Sector typically faces a greater risk of suffering injury on the job than the Private Sector.

“Across all areas of local government, federal data estimates 6.1 nonfatal job-related injury or illness cases occurred for every 100 full-time employees in 2012. State governments recorded a rate of 4.4 per 100 workers. The situation is somewhat better in the private sector, where there were 3.4 cases for every 100 workers.”

It’s true, Public Safety is a dangerous job, but put that group to the side for just a moment and read further about the other public worker groups in peril such as transportation and state operated hospitals.

The Most Dangerous Government Jobs and Why They’re Riskier Than the Private Sector by | November 19, 2013

Current status of Government Jobs: Good or Bad?

Current status of Government Jobs: Good or Bad?

It seems like positive and negative stories about the condition of personnel budgets in local government are everywhere.  Sure, they are better off than they were during the “Great Recession,” but is that something to really measure against?  And is it fair to compare to pre-recession levels when most economists and government leaders admit we won’t see those again for years to come?

Let’s look at a recent report from the National League of Cities to see if the answer lies there.  According to the City Fiscal Conditions of 2013, report 17% of cities are still implementing layoffs, which is down from 18% last year and 35% in 2010.  And 38% of cities are continuing with hiring freezes down from 45% last year and 74% in 2010. The positive side, layoffs and hiring freezes are down.  The negative side, layoffs and hiring freezes are still happening in over 17% of cities.  Is the glass half empty or half full?

Before we decide it’s all doom and gloom, here’s another stat to consider; college students participating in a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) cited Government as the top industry in which they wish to start their careers.   In my opinion that shows a great deal of integrity that our younger generation is displaying to put the nature of the work before the money in their wallet.  Maybe regardless of all the press, good and bad, public service is still the kind of job that makes Americans feel good, and there are no statistics that can change that.

I guess, in the end, the truth lies in the eye of the data holder.