4 Human Resources Trends in Government Contracting
HR is crucial in any industry, but especially in government contracting work. GovCon work is all about being able to provide the right people with the right skills who can deliver the terms of the contract—and hopefully lead to increased revenue on your next contract.
This means you'll need to have the best team of contractors available to your firm. Building a great team means having the right HR processes in place so that you attract, engage, and retain great talent.
But HR is a constantly changing field, especially when you're working with the government. In this blog, we're going to look at some of the major trends that affect human resources in government contracting.
1. Optimization of Technology and Systems
Most GovCon firms have an IT infrastructure to support their HR strategy, but not everyone gets the full value from those systems.
It is absolutely worth the investment of time to optimize your Human Resources Information System (HRIS) and Applicant Tracking System (ATS), as doing so is going to make a huge impact on your ability to:
- stay compliant
- increase your talent acquisition team’s bandwidth
- ease the burden of the annual reporting
Let's take a look at why HRIS optimization is important for government contractors:
Compliance is especially important to government contractors, as there are so many regulations to keep up with. Updating a few simple things in your HRIS and ATS will help make compliance a little bit easier.
- Standardize your disposition codes: Standardized disposition codes allow you to easily filter out candidates who do not need to be included in your applicant pool data when it comes time to develop or refresh your Affirmative Action Program.
- Add job posting templates: This will help ensure you’ve included the EEO tagline language in all your job postings, as well as any additional required information, such as salary ranges and benefits information (if you are subject to pay transparency requirements).
- Comply with the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) posting requirement: VEVRAA requires government contractors to post job openings on the state workforce agency job boards or local American Job Center, also known as the employment service delivery system or ESDS. Note that this posting requirement applies to all jobs that are not executive roles, will last for more than 3 days, and are not filled internally.
- Add self-identification forms: Include your self-ID forms for race and ethnicity, veteran status, and disability status to ensure candidates have them when applying. You can also supply them to new hires when they complete their post-recruitment paperwork.
Increase talent acquisition’s bandwidth
Most HRIS and ATS systems allow you to add templates for offer letters, link to other systems (such as background check vendors and job boards), add email templates, and automate other portions of the recruiting process. By taking advantage of these features, your talent acquisition team will have additional time to focus on filling your open positions.
Ease your reporting burden
HR teams for government contractors are typically responsible for annual reporting, including the annual Affirmative Action Program, EEO-1 Reporting, and VETS-4212 Reporting, as well as the new OFCCP Contractor Portal Certification. Reporting obligations are significantly easier when you have accurate and reliable data in your systems.
If you need help optimizing your HRIS and ATS technology, Helios can assist you through an HRIS project engagement.
2. Artificial Intelligence and the EEOC
The EEOC recently released a statement about assessing the adverse impact of software, algorithms, and AI used in employment selection procedures under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
While this is not exclusively relevant to government contracting companies, it's important information for every employer. We've started to see more states passing AI-related legislation and regulations, and this situation is evolving rapidly.
The EEOC’s statement addresses the employer’s responsibility under Title VII regarding using algorithmic decision-making tools. According to the EEOC, if an employer administers a selection procedure, it may be responsible under Title VII if the procedure discriminates on a basis prohibited by Title VII, even if the employer uses a third-party service.
Because of this, if you are using AI in your hiring processes, we encourage you to ask your third-party software vendors this question:
Have you taken steps to evaluate if this tool causes lower selection rates for individuals in a protected class?
Note that you, as the employer, are liable for any possible discrimination—even if the vendor promises that their tool is fully evaluated. You are responsible for monitoring hiring outcomes and ensuring that discrimination doesn't creep into your recruitment process.
Amazon was one of the leaders in implementing an experimental hiring AI tool within their hiring process to score candidates, and they found bias within the tools they were using. After a review of the tool, it was found there was bias against women who applied for technical roles, and Amazon then ceased using the tool in their hiring process.
This is why it’s so important to conduct ongoing analyses on any algorithmic or AI tools you use, especially if you’re using them in the hiring process – these systems are great for making things faster and more efficient, but it’s important to know there can be bias in AI algorithms and the data used to train those systems. These evaluations will ensure you are not inadvertently discriminating against applicants or employees.
3. Affirmative Action and DEIB Efforts
According to a recent SHRM article, positions focused on DE&I that were seeing record gains in the past few years have started to slow significantly. And with the current financial uncertainty, companies are starting to make cuts in areas like DE&I.
This is important for government contractors to recognize in particular, because of the increased focus from both the EEOC and OFCCP on affirmative action, as well as diversity and inclusion efforts. You’ll see this evidenced by the relatively new requirement for government contractors to annually certify whether they are meeting their obligation to maintain an Affirmative Action Program via the OFCCP Contractor Portal. There have been indications the OFFCP will use the information gathered from their Contractor Portal when putting together their compliance audit lists.
Good faith efforts
Government contractors must document their good faith efforts regarding affirmative action and meeting their hiring and placement goals. It’s important to maintain a record of your use of specialized job boards, career fairs, college outreach efforts, and any other actions you’ve taken toward meeting your hiring and placement goals as identified by your Affirmative Action Plan.
SCOTUS decision on Affirmative Action
The Supreme Court recently struck down affirmative action in higher education. Shortly after the ruling, Charlotte Burrows, the EEOC Chair, released a statement saying the decision “does not address employer efforts to foster diverse and inclusive workforces or to engage the talents of all qualified workers, regardless of their background”.
She continued to say, “It remains lawful for employers to implement diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility programs that are seen to ensure workers of all backgrounds are afforded equal opportunity in the workplace.”
It's so important to keep in mind DE&I is really an ongoing effort and a long process that will positively impact your company culture and foster a feeling of belonging at work for your employees. With that in mind, continue to evaluate your programs and practices to help build on your culture and create a workplace where everyone is able to thrive, especially in our current environment where retention can be difficult.
4. Human Resources and Talent Acquisition’s Role in the Bid Process
A colleague of mine recently wrote a blog with some great insights on how talent acquisition teams can be leveraged to increase your company’s revenue. One area in which Human Resources and Talent Acquisition teams can serve as a strategic partner is in the bid process.
Talent Acquisition and Human Resources can help determine if your company can realistically staff a potential contract and can help identify bid opportunities based on their knowledge of the available candidate pool.
When talent acquisition and HR teams attend bid meetings, it allows them to see what is coming down the pipeline, which makes it easier to find the right people for the right roles. This also provides additional time to identify key personnel based on their knowledge of existing employees’ skill sets. Cleared positions can be particularly difficult to fill, so having that extra time to start reaching out and accessing networks is so beneficial.
The organizations we’ve had the opportunity to partner with in this capacity have successfully won contracts and onboarding teams efficiently. Involving HR and talent acquisitions early on allows everyone to function seamlessly as a team rather than in silos. It also allows the recruiting team to be proactive instead of reactive.
Get help from the GovCon HR experts
HR is especially difficult for government contracting firms. You face layer upon layer of additional compliance requirements, as well as the normal HR concerns of recruitment, engagement and retention.
It's easier when you've got help from the experts. Helios HR has supported businesses in the greater D.C. area for over 20 years, and we're ready to help you. Book a call today and let's talk about how to make HR work for you.