Army begins study to change its talent management system to fit the future

The Army is undertaking a sweeping study of its talent management system to improve its ability to recruit, retain and advance its talent for the threats of the future.

Army Secretary Mark Esper tasked the Army Science Board (ASB) at the beginning of the year to look into a dynamic information management system that “aligns Army force requirements with soldiers’ talents, interests and career desires,” according to a Jan. 4 memo obtained by Federal News Network.

“The study team will describe that system, its tools and procedures to better manage and plan for the Army’s most vital resource, its people,” Esper said in the memo.

The request for the study comes as the Army fell short of its 2018 recruitment goals by about 6,500 soldiers.

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Additionally, the service — and the military as a whole — is finding it harder to retain service members. Critics, both in and outside the military, blame the military’s antiquated and industrial-age-oriented talent management system for issues with keeping soldiers in the force.

Esper asked the ASB to determine how best to scale a personnel information management system to meet the Army’s needs by the end of September. Esper requested that the board build upon former studies based on using predicative analysis to identify high-risk behavior and previous talent management reports.

The Army hopes the system can manage operating force units, identify areas where the Army needs more depth and optimize the routine assignment process.

Other items on the wish list for the management system include identifying and planning for specific talent in high demand areas, and boosting the recruitment, motivation, promotion and retention of talent.

The Army is currently phasing in its Integrated Personnel and Pay System – Army (IPPS-A) as its talent management system of record.

IPPS-A will serve as a one-stop talent, human resources and pay system for 1.1 million active-duty and reserve soldiers, including the National Guard.

Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel, said IPPS-A will help the service evolve its personnel system from one that currently promotes “cookie-cutter” career paths to one that’s more flexible and appealing to soldiers.

“It allows the individual officer to identify their skills, knowledge, attributes and talents and put those in the marketplace and allow units to identify the officers they want, as opposed to a round-hole, round-peg mentality,” he told  Federal Drive with Tom Temin at the Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington.

Esper asked the ASB to review IPPS-A and other personnel systems within and outside of the Army to assess “their applicability in recruitment, development, position assignment, retention and planning for the Army.”

The board will also “examine the distinctions of Baby Boomers, Millennials and Generation Z to understand the unique attributes of Army personnel in each generation.”

The point is to understand generational differences and how they affect leadership, training, motivation and retention.

The Army is already focusing on how it needs to change to be more attractive to Generation Z after the recruiting shortfall last year. The Army is currently targeting 22 cities where the service traditionally gets low recruiting numbers.

The service is also reaching out to Generation Z in more technologically savvy ways.

“The average age watching the NFL right now is 55-years-old and they can’t track a percentage of 30 and below that are actually watching the NFL. We are getting into the E-sports world right now. We attended the national convention there last week in Los Angeles,” said Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, the Army’s recruiting commander last fall.

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