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Case Study: Federal government

Building a next-generation workforce

The client’s perspective

The United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) designs and produces the United States’ paper currency. Its primary mission is tangible: to print billions of notes each year for delivery to the Federal Reserve. However, the BEP also handles numerous less-visible functions, including advising other federal agencies on document security matters; processing claims for the redemption of mutilated currency; and conducting research into new automation and counterfeit deterrent technologies. Keeping such a complex and critical organization performing at its peak requires a skilled, motivated, and stable workforce.

To keep pace with technology’s evolution, BEP leadership recognized the need for an increasingly flexible and innovative workforce. Due to its unique mission and craft occupations, BEP is often unable to hire experienced and appropriately skilled staff from the outside—it has to develop its people from within.

Additionally, BEP was planning a move to a new facility in 7-10 years, but needed to begin training and/or repositioning staff for operations in that new facility now. A planned redesign of the $10 note was another major initiative set to impact the workforce, requiring innovative technology, processes, and specialized skills. Finally, more than half of BEP’s workforce would be eligible for retirement within five years, many of whom held craft positions operating highly specialized machines on the printing floor. BEP needed to capture their institutional knowledge before they left the workforce for good.

Taking all this into consideration, leadership understood the need for a comprehensive human capital strategy to set priorities for its human capital initiatives and drive meaningful workforce improvements. BEP called on Eagle Hill to collaborate on a five-year plan to help the Bureau meet its strategic goals of building a next-generation workforce and creating a Best Place to Work that fosters a positive and engaging environment.

A new view

Our first step was a current state analysis to understand the workforce challenges and root causes. We held focus groups and interviews with more than 170 internal stakeholders at every level of the organization. We also conducted interviews and benchmarking with several external organizations, including the U.S. Treasury, U.S. Mint, and even BEP’s paper and ink suppliers to collect best practices and understand areas for improvement. We supplemented this interview and focus group data with other quantitative workforce data analysis (such as cost per hire and retirement eligibility), and then prioritized our findings.

Based on this analysis and the best practices identified through benchmarking, we developed a five-year plan that includes five goals and nearly 20 initiatives. To set the course for prioritizing and implementing initiatives, we created a detailed operational plan and helped BEP set its 2016 priorities, which fell into seven major areas:

  • Workforce planning
  • Competency modeling
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) training and development
  • Apprenticeship training
  • Upward mobility
  • Knowledge management
  • Leadership development

We knew that solving BEP’s unique workforce challenges would require creative approaches. For example, one recommended initiative focused on establishing a systematic workforce planning process to enable a data-driven view of current and future workforce needs. Another recommended initiative involved standing up a STEM Rotational Training and Development Program to attract STEM professionals and build current STEM employee skills.

We also developed a clear plan for communicating progress to the workforce and measuring performance results. It was clear that BEP’s Human Capital Strategic Plan needed to be easily understandable and relevant to the workforce. To achieve this, we took a visual approach to distill detailed information into interactive infographics showing how the employee experience would evolve over time until implementation is complete in 2020.

Unconventional consulting—and breakthrough results

It was critical that BEP’s human capital initiatives reflect its culture and people. We kept all of those affected by the plan up to date on every milestone along the way and ensured employees at all levels were engaged throughout the development process, not just at the beginning or the end. This ongoing collaboration and routine workforce communications were key to building consensus and buy-in.

Our ability to make sense of large amounts of existing data, prioritize initiatives, and define a logical starting point for improvement was core to our approach. While our work with BEP on the five-year plan will be ongoing through 2020, we are proud that BEP has formalized an integrated Human Capital Strategic Plan where one had not before existed.

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Federal government

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