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A blueprint to adapt government to the future of work

By Philip Craig, Sales Development Manager, UK Public Sector

Read time: two minutes

In the coming years, access to data analytics and tools to drive rapid decision making will have a substantial impact on people related matters. Government is an employer of over 420,000 civil servants, so it will be by no means a passive observer. Instead it must drive continuous improvement across Whitehall and beyond, improving business continuity, identifying and managing risks and adopting new operating models, as well as investing in the transactional systems that underpin change.

This blog seeks to provide government leaders with the foundations to harness the potential of data analytics to enhance business resilience.

The civil service already knew it had to adapt its capabilities and leadership with the strategic objectives of a new government. It needed to look to the future, thinking strategically about how it might recruit and retain more nurses and police officers, introduce a new system to control immigration and invest in education and infrastructure. Then COVID-19 transformed work and the workplace. Civil servants are playing a leading role in the response to the virus. They are being asked to use new technology and adapt new work practices in real time, often alongside old systems and processes.

Government has become more agile, with new procedures governing remote working, accelerated hiring processes and projects developed with unprecedented speed. It will need to review and capitalise on five key changes, whose implementation was expected to occur only gradually, but will now need to be accelerated.

First, when any crisis happens, there is an immediate need to promote business continuity by adapting the current workforce structure to new demands. This might include the deployment of staff to new roles and the timely extension of training, putting health and safety needs first and then supporting the as smooth a transition as possible. Online learning can help to upskill the workforce, including skills to use new technology and coaching to promote new ways of working that better meet the needs of service users.

Second, effective business continuity depends on decision makers having access to timely and trustworthy data, which gives a consistent view of staff, across a range of government departments, agencies and other public bodies. That means access to data collected from multiple sources, which allows secure collaboration, even when people are working at home, rather than the protracted emailing and reconciling of spreadsheets.

Third, in an emergency, getting to the right answer quickly is critical. Artificial intelligence can assist, automatically analysing large volumes of data and generating warnings. And once decisions are made, the civil service needs tools that enable rapid implementation through self-service and automation, including system wide updates to roles, absence and reporting records and the payroll (ultimately reducing errors and stress placed on human resource systems).

Fourth, government leaders need to use new digital channels to share fast moving information with staff and their representatives. An online helpdesk allows a systematic capture of information, to identify the assistance needed, before the proactive deployment of knowledge articles, which can be amended based on feedback. Drawing on the insight generated, more targeted communications can be distributed, including paying attention to increased mental health needs or personal protection services required by those working in front-line roles.

Finally, while most civil servants are focussed on managing the here and now, there will soon be a need to recognise that the future workplace will be different. Some parts of government have already established working groups, to discuss new operating models and the roles and skills needed to support them. They require workforce planning tools that plot a course between the present and a future state, taking account of the costs of recruitment and staff development, and focussing efforts on the gathering of data to set targets and monitor trajectories.

I believe that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the work and worth of civil servants. It has reinforced the attractiveness of government as a career of choice for a new generation of employees. At the same time, the pandemic has severely tested business continuity and workforce resilience. I am keen to talk to civil servants and other public sector employees, to discuss how Oracle is working across the public and private sectors, to help organisations redeploy their workforce to meet changing needs and introduce new technologies to better manage people processes.


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Comments ( 1 )
  • Robin Barter Wednesday, November 4, 2020
    Great article - I really liked your comment around using a standard (almost taken for granted) system already in place to manage the Helpdesk, to broaden its' usage to help capture and respond to a wider range of issues and challengese.
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