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HRM and the Department of Veterans Affairs
Human Resource Change Management Plan Approach Paper for Department of Veterans Affairs Objective E.1 from the FY 2003-2008 Strategic Plan
Like every other organization in the world today, employees are the foundation of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the key to its success. In spite of the enormous contribution made by VA to the country in caring for its veterans and their families, the department has experienced some negative publicity as a result of various failures in patient care and administration that have adversely affected employee morale across the board (Veterans' Hospital under Investigation, 2003). Therefore, the purpose of this initiative is to ensure that VA has the workforce it needs to serve veterans and their families, today and in the future. The 21st century presents VA with an unprecedented set of human capital challenges -- an aging workforce, a shifting and expanding mission, a tight and competitive labor market, and the emergence of profound new technologies that present both risks and opportunities. The department's ability to capitalize on these challenges will largely determine the extent to which the goals and strategies set forth in this management plan are achieved. Each of the major themes incorporated in this plan can succeed only through the efforts of a workforce with the capabilities, competencies, commitment, and compassion to make it happen. Clearly, investing in, cultivating, and valuing employees remains one of VA's highest priorities. Recommended actions discussed in this initiative include:
VA will recruit, support, and retain a knowledgeable, diverse, engaged, and continuously learning workforce through professional development training initiatives; and VA will develop a comprehensive and coherent workforce development plan that incorporates the High Performance Development Model (HPDM), succession planning, diversity training, and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) orientation.
Proposed Change. The changes proposed herein are pursuant to Objective E.1 from the FY 2003-2008 Strategic Plan for the Department of Veterans Affairs which states that diversity is essential to building a creative and innovative environment to address the needs of the veterans and their families. To help develop this type of environment, VA will:
Establish a "One VA" diversity business model that is founded on effective workforce and succession planning, comparisons to the Relevant Civilian Labor Force (RCLF), targeted recruitment, and management tracking of progress;
Establish a VA Diversity Advisory Council that will be responsible for examining and monitoring VA's Employee Diversity Profile;
Establish and communicate a diversity scorecard and competencies to VA leaders; and,
Reward VA leaders for crosscutting diversity accomplishments.
What role has HR played in other organizational changes? According to Batt, Colvin, Alexander and Keefe (2002), in recent years, an increasing number of enterprises have adopted a wide range of alternative human resource practices that have not been considered in the industrial relations or high performance literature to date. "Alternative voice mechanisms," they say, "include different types of nonunion dispute resolution procedures as well as team-based work organization" (p. 22). Human resource managers have also assumed an increasingly important role in VA organizational changes over the past 30 years. This shift in focus can be linked to the same types of concerns about work alienation that were taking place in the larger American society based on the "quality of working life" movement that began the 1970s; this movement advocated widespread job redesign and enrichment in order to enhance employee well-being (Godard, 2001). Human resource management in VA has followed suit, with the concept of "value-added" employees being the focus of current federal HR initiatives (Wilkinson, 2003)
Organizational and Individual Resistance.
Measuring Success. The FY 2003-2008 Strategic Plan establishes that following guidelines for measuring the success of the program initiatives:
Objective -- Professional Development. 75% percent of VA organizational components will have implemented the High Performance Development Model Workforce Planning Service Delivery Measures:
Objective -- Alternative Dispute Resolution. The following measures will be used to assess the success of the ADR component:
100% Percent of VA employees who will be trained in ADR as an option to address workplace disputes;
Percent of employees who respond favorably when surveyed about their job satisfaction: from the current 80% to 100% for management positions and from 65% to 75% for administrative positions.
Percent reduction in the average time it takes to recruit and fill vacancies in mission-critical positions from the FY 2003 baseline of 10% to 60%;
VA Employee Satisfaction Survey Percent increase in the number of VA job announcements for which applications are accepted online to 100% from the existing 38%.
Plan and Timetable.
Target Group. The objectives of this initiative are two-fold and address two distinct segments of VA employees, human capital planning through supervisory training approaches and implementation of ADR procedures for others; however, there is some overlap in the latter initiative with the former since the ADR training will be conducted for all VA employees.
Objectives. As noted above, the objectives of this initiative are two-fold and involve a human capital planning function and the implementation of an alternative dispute resolution program; these two components are discussed further below.
Human Capital Planning. VA is institutionalizing a national workforce planning system to facilitate the strategic management of its human resources. VA's workforce planning strategies include:
Implementation of Departmental policy prescribing objectives, roles, and the process for the development of workforce and succession plans for each VA organizational component, inclusion of diversity and leadership analyses, and alignment of the workforce planning system with other key management processes;
Development of a Strategic VA Human Management Capital Plan;
Implementation of measures to assess progress on program goals identified in organizational workforce plans;
Integration of workforce planning accountability measures in performance plans of VA senior executives and managers; and Enhancement and/or establishment of management information systems to support the workforce planning function.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). VA will continue to develop an effective way for measuring the success of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program. In this regard, VA recently developed an ADR web-based tracking system to collect data that will be annually analyzed so that benchmarks can be identified and accomplishments measured. VA will conduct ADR/Mediation Awareness Training sessions for all employees to ensure that employees are aware of the ADR and mediation tools that can be used to effectively resolve workplace conflicts and disputes. By employees being aware of and using these tools, VA anticipates that this will effectively help reduce EEO complaints activity and workplace disputes, which are enormously costly for the department; further, VA also expects to derive intangible benefits such as improved morale and productivity, reduction in future disputes, repaired relationships, improved customer service, and employee trust that are associated with facilitated dispute resolution procedures (Seidler, 2003).
Strategies. VA will address issues of under-representation and promote efforts to ensure that its workforce reflects the diversity of the customers we serve. The following recruitment and marketing strategies are outlined in the FY 2003-2008 Strategic Plan for this purpose:
Enhance outreach efforts to colleges, universities, military discharge centers, and other potential recruitment sources with a strong emphasis on targeted recruitment aimed at minority populations underrepresented in the Department;
Explore the use of automated application and staffing tools to simplify and streamline the hiring process;
Develop an automated entrance interview for newly appointed employees to determine why they chose VA and use such information to drive VA's recruitment and marketing business decisions;
Develop an automated and consistently used exit interview process to help identify why employees leave the department, and use the information gathered to address and rectify retention issues;
Support government-wide efforts to streamline and simplify the federal hiring process; and,
Work with the Department of Defense (DoD) to develop methods to facilitate recruitment, retention, and potential sharing of personnel in positions critical to the Departments' complementary missions.
Steps to Implementation and Timeline. The FY 2003-2008 Strategic Plan is to be implemented over the course of its five-year duration, with refinement of benchmarks made as the program evolves.
Communication of Proposed Changes. According to Viscidi (2003), "policymakers in Washington and American citizens alike must stay well-informed and protect those who are serving" (p. 75). In this regard, VA has a good reputation for communicating with the public and its veteran clients through various media (Lehrer, 2004), including a user-friendly Web site that offers veterans and their families as well as department personnel access to a wide range of information and services (Find War Heroes Online, 2004). The veteran community in the United States also enjoys an extensive network of 38-plus veteran-specific Web sites that can be used to reach and educate the community of more than three million veterans (Franchising is Attractive Career Path for Veterans, 2004). These online resources, together with VA's internally generated employee newsletters and official publications will be used to communicate the changes proposed by the FY 2003-2008 Strategic Plan outlined above; VA's online resources will also be used to collect feedback from supervisors and employees concerning their views about the changes as they take place.
HR Policies and Practices.
Recruitment Practices. To ensure that…[continue]
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