FY 2017 Annual Performance Plan and Report - Goal 4 Objective C

Fiscal Year 2017
Released February, 2016

Goal 4. Objective C: Invest in the HHS workforce to help meet America’s health and human service needs

HHS is engaging in a variety of activities to strengthen its human capital and infrastructure to address challenges in recruitment, retention, workforce diversity, and succession planning.  HHS is focusing on human capital development to inspire innovative approaches to training, recruitment, retention, and ongoing development of federal workers.  Combined with a focus on opportunities to align multiple training programs supported by HHS and expand surveillance and treatment capacities, the Department will enhance its ability to address current and emerging challenges.

The nation’s human services workforce serves some of the most vulnerable populations in the United States.  These workers can be found in early childhood and afterschool programs, domestic violence and child protection services, teen pregnancy prevention programs, care for older adults, and programs addressing mental illness and substance abuse.  Human services workers promote economic and social self-sufficiency and the healthy development of children and youth.  In addition to the difficulty of addressing these complex issues, the human services workforce faces challenges of high staff turnover, poorly developed or undefined core competencies, unclear compensation expectations, and career trajectories.  As our nation’s population ages, the percentage of people ages 18 to 64 is expected to decline, shrinking the potential supply of human services workers.  In addition, the population is growing more racially and ethnically diverse, reinforcing the need to equip the human services workforce with the necessary cultural and linguistic skills to be responsive to all Americans’ needs. 

All HHS agencies work toward the improvement of the workforce to support the mission of the Department.  The Office of the Secretary led this Objective’s assessment as a part of the Strategic Review.

Objective 4.C Table of Related Performance Measures

Increase the top talent at HHS through recruitment, training and retention. (Lead Agency - ASA; Measure ID - 2.5)1

  FY 2012 FY 2013 FY 2014 FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017
Target     Set Baseline 50% of supervisors and managers 51% of supervisors and managers 52% of supervisors and managers
Result     49% of supervisors and managers 50% of supervisors and managers Dec 31, 2016 Dec 31, 2017
Status     Baseline Target Met Pending Pending

Increase HHS employee engagement (Lead Agency - ASA; Measure ID - 2.6)2

  FY 2012 FY 2013 FY 2014 FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017
Target     Set Baseline 67% employee engagement index 68% employee engagement index 69% employee engagement index
Result     66% employee engagement index 68% employee engagement index Dec 31, 2016 Dec 31, 2017
Status     Baseline Target Exceeded Pending Pending

Attract, hire, develop and retain a diverse and inclusive HHS workforce (Lead Agency - ASA; Measure ID - 2.7)3


  FY 2012 FY 2013 FY 2014 FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017
Target     Set Baseline 69% of employees 70% of employees 71% of employees
Result     68% of employees 69% of employees Dec 31, 2016 Dec 31, 2017
Status   Baseline Target Met Pending Pending

Increase hiring speed; i.e., the percentage of hires made within 80 day. (Lead Agency - ASA; Measure ID - 2.8)

  FY 2012 FY 2013 FY 2014 FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017
Target   N/A N/A N/A N/A 44%
Result   56% 49% 43% Dec 31, 2016 Dec 31, 2017
Status   Historical Actual Historical Actual Historical Actual Historical Actual Pending

Analysis of Results

Starting in FY 2015, the Department is tracking new performance measures, targeting three areas of emphasis:  (1) Workforce Management, (2) Employee Engagement, and (3) Recruitment Processes.  These measures provide a representative perspective of progress across the three key strategic areas identified above as improvement plans are implemented.  These metrics will be measured through responses to the Office of Personnel Management Annual Employee Viewpoint survey of federal employees. 

To help determine if HHS is achieving its workforce management goals, analysis will be conducted on the responses of HHS managers and supervisors to the question "My work unit is able to recruit people with the right skills."

The employee engagement index is calculated from the annual Office of Personnel Management Employee Viewpoint Survey and, specifically, is derived from questions related to leadership, supervisor behaviors, and intrinsic experience.  A successful agency fosters an engaged working environment to ensure each employee can reach their full potential and contribute to the success of their agency and the entire federal government.  Historically HHS has performed above the government norm, and future targets reflect HHS's continuing efforts to improve employee engagement.

HHS strives to have a workforce that is reflective of America and of the population that it serves.  In addition to using hiring and retention data to evaluate its recruitment processes, HHS will look at the most recent results from the Office of Personnel Management's Employee Viewpoint Survey.  Specifically, HHS will track the percentage of employees who positively report, "My supervisor is committed to a workforce representative of all segments of society."

HHS is committed to improving the federal recruitment and hiring process and is part of the End to End hiring initiative which was established by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  Hiring speed will be measured through data gathered from the HHS Human Resources Enterprise Personnel System (HREPS) by tracking the percentage of hiring actions that are completed within 80 days.  This measure is prescribed within the OPM End to End hiring process and would increase the percentage of hiring actions completed within 80 days, end-to-end, to bring new staff on board.  In FY 2015, 43 percent of all hiring transactions were completed within 80 days.

Plans for the Future

The Washington HR Services Center (WHRSC) continues to provide staffing and administrative services to the currently serviced Operating and Staff Divisions.  This year, following the selection of a new HR Director and Deputy Director, OHR conducted a business process improvement review to further identify gaps in service delivery, staffing requirements, and overall workload management.

Additionally, to improve operations and address hiring challenges, the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary established a tiger team to thoroughly examine the WHRSC’s operations including structure, staffing, contracts, and funding.  This remediation team developed a strategic performance management plan that contained four critical work streams requiring data review: validation and reporting; process and technology improvement; capacity building; and change management and communications.

HHS has also developed another three-year strategic performance management plan with four focus areas.  Work plans were developed for each area with specific activities defined for the three time-driven waves, or “horizons” of execution.  The four focus areas are:

  • Recruitment Processes:  Workforce analysis and development of an execution framework to achieve full capability in mission critical occupations.
  • People and Organization Development:  A robust, comprehensive talent development system.
  • Performance Culture:  A top-down, mission-driven performance management system focusing on employee engagement and top tier organization performance.
  • HR Capability:  A step change improvement in HR capability for successfully driving the above three areas.

Some of the initiatives outlined in these four focus areas are:

  • Develop and execute workforce plan for mission-critical organizations by developing a 5 year trend analysis (e.g., assessing hiring and attrition rates) key positions with high attrition rates.  
  • Enhance HHS diversity by assessing applicant flow data, reviewing barrier analysis, develop action plans to eliminate any identified barrier(s), and coordinate implementation of action plans.
  • Conduct and analyze strategic employee engagement efforts to determine those that promote diversity within the workforce.
  • Increase the percentage all hiring transactions from 30 percent to 31 percent by the end of FY 2017.
  • Automate (i.e., design and implement ePMAP) the PMAP through OPM Pilot Program
  • Foster an organizational culture that supports employee engagement by improving SES performance to generate high levels of employee motivation and commitment.

Other initiatives (e.g., Career SES Development, HHS Pathways Programs) in progress or planned will enhance employee engagement, the overall recruitment and hiring process, recruitment and retention in mission critical occupations (including STEM), workforce diversity, and employee performance.  HHS is committed to recruiting and retaining top talent to meet America's health and human service needs.

FY 2014 Strategic Review Objective Progress Update Summary

Please note that this section summarizes the result of the FY 2014 HHS Strategic Review process, limiting the scope of content to that available prior to spring of 2015.  Due to this constraint, the following may not be the most current information available.

Conclusions:      Focus Area for Improvement

Analysis:  HHS continues to experience significant challenges in hiring and maintaining its workforce.  For example, the number of days to hire performance measure missed the target this year and in each of the preceding two years.  While the re-baselining of the Hire-to-Retire (or HR Solutions) initiative may have been disruptive to operations, the gap between the target and measure outcome is much greater than the corresponding gap from each of the two preceding years.  The current plan is to revise the days to hire measure to begin reporting in FY 2017 – as well as continue to include measures related to employee engagement, supervisor assessment of staff capacity, and a diversity measure from the Employee View Point Survey.

HHS has implemented a number of new initiatives around training, diversity, targeted recruiting, work-life balance, employee engagement, and retention.  However, recruitment remains the key issue for the majority of HHS components.  Many Divisions identified the time it takes to fill vacancies as the primary challenge.  In particular, small Operating Divisions with limited staff in specific programs experience significant risks to effectively manage when hiring is delayed.  The HHS Deputy Secretary recently chartered a team that is currently evaluating the challenges with hiring and onboarding processes. 

In addition, several new issues deal with the growing number of retirement-eligible employees, particularly around knowledge transfer and succession planning.  Another challenge is the recruitment of people in their 20s and 30s and how HHS effectively engages this audience in order to recruit, train and provide advancement opportunities.  HHS also experiences challenges in identifying high quality, experienced professionals for positions which require a very specific level and type of expertise (e.g. Information Technology Specialist, Medical Technologists, Nurse Consultants, Safety Engineers, etc.).  Many of these professionals are able to demand a higher salary in the private sector. 

The new Pathways Programs provide HHS Hiring Officials with some flexibility to recruit and hire students into entry-level positions to meet succession planning needs.  OHR continues to partner with OPM to address Pathways Programs recruitment challenges, consult with components on ways to leverage the various Pathways Programs hiring authorities, and continuously improve the program’s hiring process HHS-wide. 

During the review, quickly capturing and reporting lessons learned from hiring pilots and other initiatives were identified as an area for improvement.  In addition, Divisions are working on succession planning and knowledge management strategies to address the agency’s aging workforce.  Another strategy is the development of a new web-based system to house and distribute resumes of candidates who are eligible for non-competitive hiring authorities.

Percentage of positive responses of HHS managers and supervisors to the annual Office of Personnel Management Employee Viewpoint Survey question "My work unit is able to recruit people with the right skills."

The employee engagement index is calculated from the annual Office of Personnel Management Employee Viewpoint Survey.

Percentage of positive responses of HHS employees to the annual Office of Personnel Management Employee Viewpoint Survey question, "My supervisor is committed to a workforce representative of all segments of society."



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