Government agencies, non-profit organizations, and universities are facing a staffing crunch. Many are having difficulty attracting MBAs, IT specialists, and other hard-to-recruit talent. The roots and causes of this problem are complex. Compensation, a staid brand image, and an aging workforce are all contributing factors A common misperception is that the public and non-profit sectors are not in competition with the private sector for talent. This is an extremely perilous view to adopt. The private sector has been honing its recruiting skills through a decade of the tightest labor market in recent history. How can the public and non-profit sectors keep pace and measure the return on investing in state-of-the-art staffing management solutions? Without bottom-line profit as the driver, what are the metrics for public sector recruiting? Importance of Human Capital Management Human capital is considered the key competitive asset of for-profit organizations. Attention to human capital management may be even more critical, however, in non-profit organizations. Those institutions are largely in a service business, in which employees directly affect performance. Human capital costs (payroll, benefits, training and development) for non-profits can account for more than 75% of overall costs, compared to some capital-based organizations in which they may be less than 15% of total costs. The U.S., for example, has an aging population, with more than 40% of current workers headed toward retirement in the next 10 years. The government is ramping up its hiring as many government employees approach retirement. It is projected that attrition in the public sector will soon reach a peak, with 25% to 50% expected to leave in the next four to five years. The loss of experienced people could throw some government agencies into crisis. Governments Run On Business Models The dire situation facing many government and non-profit agencies has become a hot issue, reaching even the highest levels of decision-making. Examinations of current staffing and recruiting functions are finding manual processes that are unable to respond quickly, uneven and often inequitable access to job opportunities, and a poor selection of candidates presented to hiring managers. Managers are burdened by hiring-related paperwork, and there is a bewildering lack of standardization across even closely related agencies. Government and non-profit agencies value fairness and transparency, yet these qualities are glaringly lacking from current hiring processes. The political imperative facing many agencies is to acquire a world-class recruiting function. Budgets are under scrutiny and pressure is on to achieve greater productivity at lower cost through use of technology. Consequently, the public and the non-profit sectors have started to turn to new staffing models. Governments are beginning to be run more like businesses, with concepts such as fiscal responsibility and accountability to “the customer” (the taxpayer) given paramount priority. The goal is to improve service to internal and external customers, while at the same time cutting costs. To fulfill this mandate, many governments are turning to the Web to deliver services to constituents more efficiently and economically. The drive to find efficiencies through e-government has already taken hold in such areas as healthcare, the environment, and the treasury. Governments at all geographic levels are including technology and the Internet in a long-term vision of recruitment. E-Recruiting in Government Traffic to government websites is increasing dramatically, as taxpayers are becoming increasingly accustomed to turning to the Web to access services, submit filings, or look up documents. To date, government websites have lacked the essentials for the smooth and efficient capture and processing of candidates. The first area of needed attention is to optimize the prospective candidate’s experience, an important ingredient to online recruiting success. The objective is to attract as many people as possible to the transaction zone (leveraging the strong existing traffic flow and brand), establish a relationship with them in order to qualify them, and then further engage the conversation to bring them on board. These tasks depend on communication excellence, attention to the user experience, the optimization of website traffic flow, and the ability to process and act on the data received. ROI in a Non-Profit Environment The private sector is beginning to appreciate the financial importance of human capital management. There, the justification of a particular human capital management strategy is expressed in terms of its effectiveness at improving the financial performance of the enterprise. Human capital management strategies are increasingly being assessed in terms of ROI. Human resources in general, and staffing in particular, is no longer perceived by corporate management strictly as overhead, but instead as a strategic contributor to the financial performance of the enterprise. ROI analyses of human capital management strategies are equally applicable in the public and non-profit sectors, though the “bottom-line” measures may not be as straightforward as revenue or profit, incorporating perhaps less tangible but no less real factors such as quality of service. These institutions are measured on the delivery of service and have strong consumer brands equal to many of the largest corporations. The work they do and the brands they enjoy ó whether tied to the panache of a well-known university, the smooth provision of governmental social services, or effective high dollar charity throughput achieved with low administrative overhead costs ó are directly dependent on the quality of their staff. Follow the Private Sector Leaders Over the course of the next few years, governments, universities, and non-profit agencies will change the ways they fulfill human capital needs. To date, the private sector has forged ahead in the use of technology in the implementation of human capital management strategies. Public sector non-profits have the opportunity to take lessons from the best private sector practices, and attain a real return on the implementation of e-recruiting technology solutions. Budgets can be lowered, recruiting processes can run on Internet time enabling head on competition for talent with the private sector, and automated prescreening solutions can create a better match of task to talent. For non-profits and government agencies, the ROI for the implementation of e-recruiting processes will be publicly acknowledged.