Although not traditionally known for innovation, with restricted funding and long-established IT systems perceived as hampering digital change, the public sector is now well into its stride in terms of implementing digital transformation projects in a bid to drive efficiency and improve service. Indeed, according to the research findings of our Hays What Workers Want Public Services Report, most respondents (77%) say that digital transformation is a primary or secondary focus for their organisation.
The potential benefits that such transformation can bring to the sector are manifold, allowing departments to better meet public expectations, reduce time spent on repetitive tasks and ultimately, reduce costs.
What barriers are employers facing?
The actual implementation of automation technology, particularly on a widespread scale, is not without its challenges. Our research shows that despite the goodwill towards transformation in the workplace, adoption of change is difficult, and employers are struggling with a lack of support from staff.
So, what can public services employers do to ensure the smooth implementation of automation technology in their workplaces?
1. Provide access to automation training and development
Nearly a third (30%) of public services employees say they don’t believe they have the right skills to make the best use of automation technology. When asked what one area they thought their organisation should focus on to prepare for automation, the most commonly cited response by employees was support with training and upskilling (43%).
Whilst over half (59%) of public services respondents believe the responsibility for equipping professionals with the skills needed to derive most benefit from automation lies with their organisation, only 17% of employees are receiving training from their employer. Employers should ensure that training opportunities, pertinent both to individual needs and organisational goals, are consistently offered so that their workforce feels able to successfully capitalise on the potential that automation provides.
2. Ensure employees are aware of the benefits
In order to build a positive culture around the change brought by automation, employers must ensure that communication is forthcoming about the benefits that it can bring to the workplace. There is, however, an employer/employee disparity with regards to awareness of the benefits - whilst 77% of employers are aware or very aware of the benefits that automation can bring to the workplace, only 67% of employees say the same.
Public services employers should aim to be clear on the opportunities automation offers to simplify time-consuming administrative tasks, allowing professionals to add more strategic value.
3. Build awareness around investment
Almost half (41%) of public services employees say they would be attracted to work for an organisation that was investing in automation or planned to do so. 49% would like to see it promoted in job adverts, 48% on the organisation’s website and 46% during interview. Despite this, nearly a quarter (21%) of public services employers do not promote their investment in automation at all when recruiting.
To appeal to those professionals who value technical innovation highly, employers should promote their automation investment throughout all stages of the candidate journey, emphasising what it could mean for potential employees and their professional growth.
To discover further insights into how automation is impacting jobs and the steps you can take to prepare, contact a Hays consultant for your copy of the Hays What Workers Want Public Services Report.
About this author
Matt Lewis, Director Hays Public Services, has worked in specialist recruitment since 1994, the last 10 years of which have been spent working specifically with the public sector. Matt’s role has developed into leading MSP and RPO recruitment solutions to best position organisations to attract and retain high quality talent.