Staffing/Resourcing Function
June 2011

4. Observations – staffing/resourcing function

4.1 Policies and Procedures

Staffing/resourcing policies and procedures are in place and are easily accessible on the “Human Resources and You” site on JUSnet.

Clear and accessible policies and procedures are the first step in ensuring consistency of message and application. Corporate Programs has developed an extensive suite of departmental staffing/resourcing policies, procedures, and work instruments, available on the “Human Resources and You” site on JUSnet. In addition, the site also provides access to policies and procedures from central agencies.

Departmental managers interviewed were familiar to varying degrees with the “Human Resources and You” site, which was recently redesigned. Interviewees commented positively on this initiative.

It is the audit team’s opinion that existing policies and procedures are in place and are accessible.

4.2 Leading, Communicating, and Training

Staffing practitioners within the Client Operations and Senior Management Services and the Corporate Programs divisions receive appropriate training.

One of the PSC performance indicators included in the Departmental Staffing Accountability Report reads as follows: “Mechanisms are in place to ensure that sub-delegated managers comply with their sub-delegated authority.” The Department of Justice has had a Staffing Sub-Delegation Instrument in place since 2005 (it was updated in 2009). Authorities referenced in this instrument are only to be granted to managers in writing by the Deputy Minister once the mandatory training has been completed. Departmental managers interviewed confirmed that they had received the required training prior to receiving their sub-delegation. They also indicated that while the training did not make them experts, it allowed them to fully exercise their delegation.

In the Client Operations and Senior Management Services Division a document entitled “Learning Plan Aid” captures the mandatory training requirements for staffing advisors working at various levels. In both divisions individual learning plans (ILPs) are developed for all staff at the same time that performance appraisals are prepared. The ILPs reviewed as part of this audit were found to be appropriate. Also, staff interviewed in both divisions stated that they were generally satisfied with the training and development opportunities afforded them.

It is the opinion of the audit team that staff in both divisions and departmental managers with delegated staffing authority receive the appropriate training to exercise their authority.

4.3 Provision of Service

The staffing timeframes established in the HR Client Service Standards are not monitored.

Manager satisfaction with the quality of overall staffing services was identified in the “2009 Departmental Staffing Accountability Report” as an area needing attention. Client Service Standards were developed for most HR activities including staffing in April 2009. There are two versions of these standards. One is a shorter “placemat” version that provides timeframes for each type of staffing action. It was widely distributed to departmental managers. A second more detailed version, which breaks out more of the steps in the staffing process and allocates days to each step, was published on the “Human Resources and You” site. However, this was not generally publicized or its use promoted. While the longer version of the standards outlines the roles and responsibilities of the parties involved in the staffing process, most departmental managers interviewed stated that they were only familiar with the short version, which emphasizes the overall timeframes.

At the time of the audit the staffing timeframes in the Client Service Standards were not being monitored. However, the Corporate Programs Division was developing a process for monitoring and reporting on performance against the staffing timeframes established in the standards.

Recommendation and Management Response

7. It is recommended that the Director General, HRPDD ensure that a process for monitoring and reporting on the staffing timeframes established in the HR Client Service Standards is implemented. (Medium risk)

Agreed. The monitoring of staffing timeframes forms part of the aforementioned Staffing Monitoring Framework. Steps have been taken to implement system changes within the Recruitment Module of the departmental HR Management System to allow for this tracking. System changes were implemented January 2011. Reports on timeframes are available for use of HR Directors on an ongoing basis. A yearend report will be provided to the DG, HR and Director of HR Policy and Programs to assess performance overall and inform next steps. Completion date: March 2012.

4.4 Client Satisfaction

The Client Operations and Senior Management Services Division has not sufficiently promoted some recently developed staffing instruments.

During audit interviews, Client Operations and Senior Management Services Division staff said that since 2008 an emphasis has been placed on developing user-friendly staffing instruments. In particular, they mentioned the “Fast Track” instrument, which has greatly accelerated the process for less complex staffing actions. The division’s staff also created several other new tools (e.g. banks of questions for competitions and pools of qualified candidates with resumés) that departmental managers can easily access.

Departmental managers interviewed expressed their appreciation for these new staffing instruments, which they acknowledged facilitate and accelerate non-complex staffing actions. They were familiar with “Fast Track”, which they use on a regular basis to fill positions. They were, however, less familiar with other instruments (e.g. pools of qualified candidates, banks of questions). In spite of promotional efforts on the part of HR , primarily via electronic media, there is still some resistance on the part of departmental managers to using certain instruments. In the audit team’s opinion, further promotional efforts, such as the presentations to management committees that were conducted, could better promote these instruments so they become better known and are more extensively used by departmental managers.

Departmental managers are divided in their level of satisfaction with staffing services provided by the Client Operations and Senior Management Services Division.

As stated previously, client satisfaction is one area identified in the 2009 Departmental Staffing Accountability Report as requiring attention. Clients (departmental managers) interviewed for this audit were asked whether they were satisfied with staffing services. They responded with diverging opinions. We noted that some were satisfied, while others identified a need for improvement regarding the level of service provided. Based on these interviews, the audit team identified two main factors influencing this result:

  • different expectations on the part of managers
  • the level of experience of the staffing advisor

Departmental managers who identified a need for improvement generally expect much more involvement and support from their staffing advisors. They expect assistance in developing advertisements, questions, and rating guides, and in handling selection process logistics and communicating with candidates. Many stated that they receive minimal guidance from their staffing advisor and must at times navigate the staffing process through trial and error. They further indicated that having delegated staffing authority does not make them experts in conducting staffing competitions. On the other hand, the Executive and Senior Complement Unit provides a more hands-on approach by proactively sharing assessment and rating tools with their clients. This was demonstrated in the file review conducted by the audit team.

Departmental managers also stated that the extent and quality of staffing services vary depending on the level of expertise of the assigned staffing advisor: less experienced advisors tend to be more procedurally rigid and are less creative in finding helpful solutions. Staffing advisors acknowledged that they do not frequently initiate contact with their clients (departmental managers) and, as a result, the clients consider them reactive rather than proactive. Managers have stated that while one advisor may meet their expectations, another may not. As such, the level of satisfaction with staffing services varies depending on who is assigned to handle a given staffing action.

Interviews indicated that as a result of the above issues, some Department of Justice organizations have developed their own staffing support capability within business management groups to assist managers with services that HR would normally provide (e.g. help with posters and banks of questions). Through this transfer of responsibilities, there is a risk that the role of the Client Operations and Senior Management Services Division will be eroded.

The audit team is of the opinion that the earlier recommendation to revise HR Client Service Standards, to define roles and responsibilities of all parties in the staffing process, and to actively promote these with clients would address the issues noted above and improve client satisfaction.

Most client services managers within the Client Operations and Senior Management Services Division are not fulfilling, to the full extent possible, their role of developing a strategic resourcing vision in partnership with clients.

The Client Operations and Senior Management Services Division’s four client services units are headed by managers who supervise a number of staffing advisors and HR coordinators. The job description for client services managers emphasizes the development of a strategic resourcing vision in partnership with clients. With few exceptions, client services managers do not actively play this role.

One of the main complaints from departmental managers regarding staffing services was the lack of an overall strategic approach. While all departmental managers knew their assigned Staffing Advisor, few knew their Client Services Manager. Until recently, client services managers have had limited involvement in their clients’ HR planning process. One notable exception is the regular participation of one Client Services Manager in her client’s management meetings. The majority of departmental managers interviewed wanted more involvement on the part of their Client Services Manager in their HR planning process and in the development of targeted resourcing strategies. However, client services managers are also faced with a number of challenges in assuming their strategic role. For example, not all clients (departmental managers) are open to using collective processes and other staffing approaches.

In an effort to increase the participation of client services managers in this year’s HR planning process, Corporate Programs has initiated simulation sessions. The objective is to familiarize client services managers with the HR planning process and increase their level of comfort in discussing overall strategies with departmental managers.

It is the audit team’s opinion that client services managers should be developing a strategic resourcing vision with their clients as required by their job description.

The current process to assess client satisfaction does not provide timely feedback after major staffing actions.

The Corporate Programs Division is responsible for conducting surveys to evaluate client satisfaction with staffing services. The most recent survey was conducted in the fall of 2009 and the results closely reflected those of the audit interviews (i.e. approximately half of the departmental managers responded that they were satisfied and half identified a need for improvement in staffing services Footnote 1). Corporate Programs management had planned to undertake the survey annually; however, we were told that a lack of resources prevented a survey in 2010.

In our view, national annual surveys do not provide the targeted feedback that allows for timely corrective action following major staffing actions (i.e. those requiring a competitive process). There is a need for more timely feedback after these staffing actions to identify dissatisfied clients and allow for corrective action to be taken for future staffing actions. The Director, Client Operations and Senior Management Services advised that she is consulting with Corporate Programs to potentially develop a short evaluation survey to be used after major staffing actions.

Recommendation and Management Response

8. It is recommended that the Director General, HRPDD ensure that the new staffing instruments are better promoted to increase their use by departmental managers. (Low risk)

Agreed. The Client Operations and Senior Management Services Division sent out a communiqué in the Department’s Justinfo and through the Department’s WebNews informing the Department of the pool management tool and encouraging managers to take use of the significant number of valid pools that currently exist. In addition to these two vehicles, the Division developed a webpage on the Intranet site with links to the pool management inventory as well as with a link to our contact list. Presentations have been made to a number of management committees within the Department informing them of the innovations in HR in the NCR and the benefits to managers. In addition to this, as part of Dialogue 2010, a video is available on the Justice Intranet explaining the innovations and new tools that HR in the NCR has developed. Completion date: completed.

Recommendation and Management Response

9. It is recommended that the Director General, HRPDD ensure that client services managers develop a strategic resourcing vision in partnership with clients, as outlined in their job description. (Medium risk)

Agreed. Refer to the management response to recommendation 1. In addition, the Client Service Managers in Staffing, along with the Chief of Classification, meet on a regular basis with the Directors of Business Management of the portfolio/sector, for which they are responsible, to discuss strategic staffing and classification issues. Completion: Ongoing and regular discussions take place. The Client Service Managers will meet with the Directors, Business Management, and in some instances, the portfolio/sector management team to discuss and assist with integrated HR and Business Plans. Completion date: December 2011.

Recommendation and Management Response

10. It is recommended that the Director General, HRPDD ensure that a timely feedback mechanism is implemented after major staffing actions (Medium risk)

Agreed. The Client Operations and Senior Management Services Division has purchased a survey licence to conduct online surveys to managers immediately following the completion of each advertised process to solicit their feedback in order to improve service. Completion date: September 30, 2011.

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