The Future of Local Government Human Resources

Written by Jonathan Wiersma
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Local government human resource departments have been misunderstood. They have too often been perceived as transactional role players that only serve to manage compliance documents, move applicant resumes through the screening funnel, while maintaining personnel files. Too often, the true value that human resources brings to local governments hasn’t been properly appreciated because too much of HR managers’ time has been spent manually processing paperwork and maintaining complex spreadsheets.

Now, as local governments are running leaner than ever, local government human resource departments are feeling the pressure to produce more qualified candidates and lead initiatives to develop higher-performing employees—while still ensuring the highest quality maintenance of all personnel files.

As local governments continue to feel the pressure of limited resources, leading to the need for the highest quality performers in every role, the future of local government human resources will be one in which time-consuming talent recruitment and onboarding paperwork is automated to allow human resource managers to focus their energies on the essential role of developing quality talent.

Overcoming Misperceptions

Municipal human resource departments have rightly struggled to overcome the perception that their primary role is that of transactional personnel documentation coordinator, because a significant amount of their focus has historically been spent manually tracking documents.

According to, a survey conducted by totaljobs found that among those human resource professionals surveyed, 17.1 percent of their time was spent on operations management and administrative work, while only 1.1 percent was spent on onboarding new employees, and 2.6 percent was spent on personnel management. Human resource professionals who are buried under piles of paper resumes, who need to constantly update spreadsheets and respond to individual follow-up requests from job applicants, simply don’t have the time to work with department managers to build employee development plans or cultivate advancement strategies for key leadership positions.

The Current Focus on Employee Development

While it may have been accepted in the past that municipal human resources needed to focus significant time on transactional functions, now more than ever, local government leaders are looking to their human resources teams to help them stretch every dollar by hiring the most qualified talent that can help the administration run as leas as possible. The desire for local government human resources to lead employee development initiatives is only going to grow, as local governments continue to fight the private sector for the highest quality talent.

Not only is the pressure for local governments to perform coming from internal leadership, citizens are expecting greater productivity and higher quality service from their local governments as well. With a greater desire for transparency, and social media platforms serving as a highly visible mouthpiece for questioning citizens, local governments have never been under greater scrutiny to perform at the collective and individual levels.

As pressures mount, municipal human resources are searching for ways to support the initiative of hiring and grooming higher performing employees while providing further value to their administration beyond spreadsheets and documentation.

Learn more about the CivicHR Talent Management solution from CivicPlus

The Role of Technology in the Future of Local Government Human Resources

The first step for municipal human resources to begin showing their proper value to their administrations and citizens is to reduce the amount of time spent on manual documentation management. With less time spent on compliance documentation and processing transactions, local government human resource managers can focus on change management and performance management.

Fortunately, advances in technology now allow managers in local government human resources to automate aspects of the hiring and onboarding documentation processes while still meeting compliance requirements. The future of local government human resources will see a greater shift from manual documentation and record keeping of job applicants and new hire paperwork to digital management using applicant tracking software (ATS). Such cloud-based solutions allow local government human resource managers to recruit, identify, hire, and onboard higher quality talent without manual documentation management.

ATS solutions streamline the hiring and onboarding documentation processes using centralized, secure systems. By automating elements of the hiring process, like the pre-screening of resumes, sharing of applicants with department managers, identification of candidates that meet pre-defined criteria, and even follow-up communications, local government human resource managers are spending significantly less time on paperwork, and are identifying higher quality talent.

By spending less time managing piles of paperwork and maintaining spreadsheets, human resource managers will be able to show their true value to their administrations and their citizens. With time available to focus on individual employee performance, local governments will meet the growing demands of their citizens by ensuring the highest quality employees are dedicated to the advancement of their community.

To learn how an ATS solution can help you streamline your recruitment efforts and free-up your time for personnel development, click below to download our free white paper.

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