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56 Tools to Aid State DOTs in Responding to Workforce Challenges 6.5 Gaps in Resources Available to Meet Workforce Needs This section discusses gaps between the workforce needs that were identified in section 2.3.1 and the current resources available to state DOTs to help them address these needs. Both current gaps and likely future gaps based on emerging trends are identified. 6.5.1 Gaps Related to Coverage by Need Category As shown in Table 6.1, the research team was able to locate a reasonable number of useful information resources within each of the 22 identified needs categories. Categories with the greatest coverage included Workforce Planning/Development, Training and Development, and Recruitment. Categories with relatively few resources identified included Retirement, Downsizing/ Reduction in Force, Employee Conflict, and Outsourcing/Contract Management. Materials on Strategic Planning, Human Resources Planning, and Knowledge Management within DOT set- tings also have relatively light coverage in the database. 6.5.2 Gaps Related to Specific Emerging Workforce Issues Linking Strategic Business Planning to Strategic Workforce Planning. While general resources on strategic planning processes were identified, there is a need for more targeted materials that help DOTs make progress in the integration of strategic workforce planning with broader strategic business planning initiatives. Materials on this topic are needed both for human resources professionals and for agency executives. Materials for human resources professionals would help to enhance their understanding of business strategy and planning and their human resources role in supporting those areas. Materials for executives would provide a succinct understanding of how good strategic workforce planning can be an important driver of long-term organizational effectiveness. Workforce planning resources that incorporate all aspects of the multi-sector workforce will be essential given the evolving models for the acquisition of talent to achieve strategic goals and objectives. Policies, methods, and other resources to assure that the state DOTs maintain the technical expertise to properly oversee the goods and services provided by the multi-sector work- force will be a continuing challenge. Balancing a Shrinking Workforce with an Increasing Workload. Retirements and reductions in force due to economic constraints can increase employee stress and potentially undermine long-term business planning. Case studies, policies, and guides that can help guide human resources professionals through the preparation, execution, and repercussions of a reduction in force can ensure that DOTs reduce employee conflict, maintain a positive work environment, and that the agency is prepared to meet future safety and quality standards. Reduced workforces and budgets have caused many agencies to outsource work to contractors. This practice creates the need for a new skill set--contract negotiation and management--as well as for tools to assess the costs and benefits of outsourcing. It also creates the need to carefully consider the costs and benefits of direct hire verses acquisition of talent, goods, and services through contracts and similar vehicles. Software applications that display comparative data analyses, consulting services, model requests for proposals or contracts, and other informative resources can help agencies utilize outside contractors in the most cost-effective and efficient manner possible. Leadership Development. A need exists for additional resources that address development of the next generation of DOT leaders. Currently, middle management gaps exist in many DOTs
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Review of Existing Resources 57 due to hiring freezes that were in force during the 1990s and the movement of management candidates from DOTs to private companies. Resources of all types can assist DOT managers in identifying potential future leaders and training them in the changing requirements for success- ful leadership. Succession Planning. There is a need for a richer base of case studies and models for fully integrating succession planning processes into the fabric of the organization, and for demon- strating concrete approaches for flagging areas of risk or exposure. Competency-based Training and Development Programs. There are good generic toolsets and methodologies available for competency definition and assessment, but relatively few good examples of practical approaches to training and development investments to proactively and systematically fill identified gaps in required competencies. There is also a need for examples of methodologies for ROI calculations that can be used to determine when training investments make sense. These ROI approaches should be broadly based, taking into consideration issues such as dollars expended, competency acquired and applied, short-term and long-term impact on organizational and individual performance, and similar complex factors. A second need with respect to competencies is resources which simplify and standardize iden- tification of competencies specifically related to DOTs and that provide resources to assess and predict the relationship between competencies in place and successful employee and organiza- tional performance. Recruitment. There are resources that more directly address recruiting challenges faced by today's DOTs given a shrinking candidate pool, changes in what DOTs are able to offer with respect to compensation, and changes in what motivates and attracts candidates to DOT jobs. Human Resources Information Systems. There are resources that enable human resources professionals to articulate requirements for improved tracking and reporting and work toward successful realization of these requirements as part of system acquisition and development efforts that are enterprise wide or statewide in nature. Performance Management. There are resources that help DOTs to shift to a culture that unites organization and employee performance requirements, metrics, and assessments. Creating, managing, and evolving the required culture of performance within state DOTs will require the development and absorption of an entirely new set of executive, manager, and supervisory skills. It will also require a substantial evolution of the employee-employer relationship with all the myriad implications for the devolution of greater power to individual employees and the need to establish a proper set of checks and balances to manage that evolution and delegation. 6.5.3 Gaps Related to the Type of Information Resource Policies and Procedures. Strong interest was expressed by DOT human resources leaders (at the AASHTO human resources meeting in Portland, Oregon, in May 2007) for inclusion of model Human Resource policies addressing a broad range of workforce issues in the database. In response, the research team gathered relevant model policies from the public and private sector and included them in the Workforce Toolkit. There are currently 22 policies/procedures in the database in addition to 100 methodologies/guides/models. Lessons Learned and Successful Practices. A second comment expressed at the AASHTO human resources meeting was the need for sharing of real-time information on successful practices and lessons learned. For example, if states are moving toward outsourcing of DOT functions, what policies are being used for the employees whose jobs are impacted? What did state X which
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58 Tools to Aid State DOTs in Responding to Workforce Challenges did this last year do? There is currently no central, reputable source that provides this type of information. Certainly the sources identified above, as well as the web sites of TRB and its sub- sidiaries such as NCHRP provide a wealth of information, some of which focuses on successful practices and lessons learned. However, there has previously been no "one-stop shopping" for this type of information. In an era of rising demand for services and a shrinking resource base to provide those services, a portal which provides this type of information will be invaluable. To address this gap, the researchers added the State Practices view, which links users to a table containing information from recent NCHRP reports that involved individual state case studies or examples. More information can be added to this view as it becomes available.