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The Future of Work in the Public Sector

March 17, 2022

The Future of Work in the Public Sector

Synopsis
3 Minute Read

The Future of Work in the public sector means massive digital transformation and business model overhauls.

To meet evolving workplace demands and encourage employee well-being, efficiency and productivity, public sector organizations will need to undergo massive digital transformation and business model overhauls.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, short-term and tactical considerations focus on maintaining employee health and wellness - whether onsite, working remotely, or a mix of the two. Long-term and strategic considerations include a longer-term commitment to providing flexibility to employees who can perform all, or part of their work virtually.

This requires a sustainable digital environment and a culture that embraces such a model, while honouring the Government of Canada’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Here are four best practices to consider, as you transform your organization into the workplace of the future.

Zoom out

Start with the broader outcome in mind. Rather than asking, “How can we automate this particular task?” ask: “What type of workplace do we want to create—and how can technology help us get there?”

Envision the type of workplace you want to create. For example, if your goal is a more efficient and engaged workforce, you’d want to use technology to enhance the existing employee experience — by helping employees provide more value, make a greater impact, and gain more visibility in their role as part of the greater whole.

To do so, start by understanding what problems, or pain point, people are facing. For example, certain employees may be spending much of their workday on mundane tasks or redundant processes.

Next, consider higher-value work your employees could be doing — for example, engaging with clients or citizens, or enhancing internal processes within their team.

With this information, you can better identify what your organization’s business model could look like moving forward. Having this type of information could, for instance, clarify how to ensure employees are using their work hours in a high-value way. It then becomes easier to determine where modern technology could fit into your organization, and how to leverage it for the largest impact.

Identify barriers to success

Implementing a new technology to drive the employee experience, employee engagement, and your team’s ability to do their jobs effectively, is a multi-stage process. Technology alone will not fix internal structural issues. You’ll need to acquire a suite of diverse information, and make sure your organization is set up to effectively maximize its technology investment.

One challenge could be ensuring employees actually start using a new technology after it’s implemented. You’ll need to put the right structures in place and implement processes with the technology in mind. Maximize every opportunity this new tool provides, to help employees focus on higher-value work.

Define your approach to change management

You’ll need buy-in for the new direction from the top, and the right approach to change management. Your organization’s leadership team will need to bring people along — and make it clear the old way of doing things is no longer an option.

Choose the right change philosophy for your organization’s particular situation and goals. A change philosophy defines an organization’s direction, as well as the pace of change. With a long-term goal, this may require a long-game approach: taking the time to build organizational commitment, establishing buy-in, and mitigating resistance points.

A change in organizational culture might also be required, where employees become empowered to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and get comfortable with a new way of working. It's essential to create comprehensive plans that employees view as fair and reasonable, and then communicate those plans effectively, so your team understands why you’re making certain decisions.

If you want rapid change—for example, switching to e-signatures to digitize records — your change philosophy would likely be different. Your leadership team might decide to implement their preferred software solution swiftly, and at one go. However, this approach could lead to internal resistance, so you’ll need to …

Take it one step at a time

Communicate clearly, and invite people to grow their skills on their own, organically.

Consider taking things gradually, through an agile approach. Rather than introducing massive change all at once, agile is about chunking out a larger change initiative into bite-sized increments, for example, by rolling out a new system incrementally.

These four best practices to make monumental change easier can help you establish a strong foundation for your workplace of the future. Combined with the proactive use of data, analytics and reporting, this can open exciting doors for the public sector in the next few years.

With the right strategy, hard numbers, and solid reporting structures, you’ll make rapid progress toward meeting government objectives in areas ranging from diversity, equity and inclusion, to sustainability, corporate social responsibility and more.

For more information, contact Melanie Fix, Senior Consultant, at [email protected] or Katie Hayes, Manager, MNP Digital, at [email protected].

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