HR, IT bringing tools to improve HRSA’s recruitment, retention

Five years ago the Health Resources and Services Administration was outsourcing human resources. Today the agency is setting an example of collaboration in government.

“We’re new, we started from nothing our HR office, so to have the technology that Adriane’s group can bring to us is huge,” said Cathy Ganey, director of the office of human resources for the Health Resources and Services Administration in the Department of Health and Human Services. “We have an idea and they can find a way to make it work for us.”

A perfect example of this collaboration is a pilot currently underway for an electronic performance management system, a shared service gleaned from the National Institutes of Health. The goal is to have the system up and running for calendar year 2018.

“We use many of the HHS HR systems within HRSA,” said Adriane Burton, the agency’s chief information officer, who joined Ganey during an interview on the Human Capital Management Insights show. “We recently implemented a cloud solution for position descriptions capabilities.”

Ganey said recruitment and retention are top priorities.

One of the ways they’ve streamlined the hiring process is: “Ready, Set, Post.” These are ready-made job packages, proven to bring in successful candidates. Bureaus and offices within HRSA can identify the job that fits their need and have it post the next business day.

“We are within the 80-day timeframe for the majority of our recruitment,” Ganey said.

She said it was difficult to get hiring managers involved at first, but now they’re seeing the fruit of those early conversations with HR. And it only gets better.

“We can sit down with the hiring managers and actually have decisions based on data moving forward,” she said. “This has really changed the way we do recruitment.”

To retain employees, Burton said she focuses on employee engagement and the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. She holds regular meet-and-greets with new employees and strives to have a little fun as well like when management recently dished out seven gallons of ice cream to employees at a social event.

HRSA provides healthcare to people who are geographically isolated, economically or medically vulnerable. Like many agencies, the mission is a big part of the attraction for new recruits, but it also keeps employees engaged in their jobs.

There are 10 regions within HRSA. Burton said it’s hard to include all of the regions in every activity, such as the annual awards ceremony, but technology is making it easier.

Over the last two years, HRSA implemented video teleconferencing capabilities, meaning that annual awards ceremony became a lot more inclusive.  The event was scripted to move between locations throughout the ceremony.

“It worked out well because the interactions were so seamless,” said Burton. “And then when people received awards in the regions it was really like they were physically at headquarters.”

The collaboration between the CIO and human resources received a boost from the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA).

“We have a robust FITARA framework and processes at HRSA and it also integrates with the HHS FITARA framework,” said Burton. “For instance, HHS is working on an enterprise HR system, so we’ll factor that into any decisions that are made. But all IT procurements must go through me as the CIO, as part of FITARA, to ensure that there is no duplication of effort and it aligns with the HHS and HRSA strategies … so we really start these conversations early.”

Ganey said they are in the process of upgrading the personnel system and integrating the time and attendance system into the new enterprise system in the next fiscal year.

Ganey and her office have their own requests as well. An employee and labor relations database and automating outside activity forms are two on the list.

“We turn to IT to figure out how we can get things done,” Ganey said. “We started with nothing so we get really excited when we can turn some of our paperwork into an automated system.”