Devon Suits | Army News Service
WASHINGTON, DC – The safety and well-being of Army personnel is a top priority for the Civilian Human Resources Agency as it continues to find new ways to acquire, develop, employ and to retain diverse talent amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hiring and HR staff collaboratively developed and executed innovative processes this year that will forever influence future civilian recruiting and hiring, said agency director Carol Burton.
Since March, civilian recruitment operations have helped to hire about 21,000 new civilian employees of the Ministry of Defense and the military during the pandemic.
“We onboarded between 1,000 and 1,300 new civilians every pay period, or every two weeks,” she said.
The CHRA manages all aspects of the human resources lifecycle for nearly 330,000 DoD and DA civilians worldwide, she said.
Of the 21,000 new employees, nearly 85% were hired virtually, including 3,000 medical professionals to bolster the military’s response to COVID-19, she said. A DoD Direct Hiring Authority provided CHRA officials with a method to quickly fill critical medical positions.
“The army never closed; the mission continued with a guiding principle of protecting the health and safety of our personnel,” Burton said. “We quickly moved to maximum teleworking.”
Working in tandem with other agencies, CHRA officials have also sought to expedite pre-employment medical screenings. The agency has found ways to onboard new staff for certain positions while awaiting their results.
“As far as virtual onboarding (and) some hiring flexibilities … I would like to continue that practice,” Burton said. “We want to hire qualified people as quickly as possible” to retain the best candidates.
Along with improving hiring, the agency’s Army Benefits Center – Civilian established a rapid response team to support employees with their health benefits, COVID-19 Thrift Savings Plan loans, retirement, work-related injuries or to report an untimely death, Burton said. . Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on the CHRA website.
CHRA’s information technology division has also implemented automated tools to help prepare during the pandemic, she said. One such program tracked nearly 5,000 overseas civilian workers affected by the DoD stop movement order. Agency officials relied on the data collected to prioritize the movement of personnel and get them to their destination safely.
While COVID-19 has created a share of additional challenges, the CHRA remains committed to the Army’s people strategy as officials work to implement a 21st century talent management system, said Burton.
“People are the Army’s greatest strength and most valuable asset,” she added. “We are seeking legislative changes to improve hiring and implementation procedures to deliver integration and acculturation programs.”
In June, the Army announced its Civilian Implementation Plan, which aligns a series of efforts to integrate the knowledge, skills, behaviors and preferences of every employee to achieve organizational results and maintain the readiness.
The CHRA also created the Army Civilian Career Management Activity in October, which is in line with Army CIP requirements, she said.
“Before the creation of the ACCMA and the Army people strategy, we had a decentralized method of managing civilians,” Burton said.
With the ACCMA, the military now has 11 centrally managed career fields, she added.
Previously, more than 30 different career programs shaped the military’s civilian workforce. Each path provided a flexible career management structure to training, mentoring and developing leaders.
The new approach to career programs “provides our civilian workforce with a centralized approach to hiring and managing their careers,” she said. “Army civilians will now have a clear career path. We will also focus our efforts on training in the skills we need today and in the future.
CHRA officials are also working to expedite the hiring process to meet the DoD’s 45-day goal, which begins once a position becomes vacant until it is filled, a- she declared.
“We’re between 75 and 80 days, so we need to cut that time in half,” Burton said.
Officials are currently improving their recruiting efforts, starting with posting available positions before they are released. The agency is also working to simplify job postings to speed up the selection process.
The use of no-competition and direct-hire powers for critical positions will also provide more flexibility, allowing the force to meet the 45-day threshold. “We will transform how we acquire, develop, employ and retain the diversity of civilian talent needed to achieve Total Army Readiness through enhanced civilian training, education and professional development,” Burton said. “This will result in a trained, educated and highly skilled workforce that is resilient, modern and ready.”