ContextThe agency is faced with several emerging opportunities and challenges related to our evolving workforce. Baby boomers are retiring. Current staff have a gap between their current skills and those that will be needed for the future. We are competing with the private sector for workers with specialized and emerging skillsets. Workers that are filling positions vacated by tenured employees may have the technical skills required, but lack the institutional knowledge and documentation to seamlessly transition into the agency and perform their job responsibilities.
Technology Advancement. Connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and other emerging technologies are creating a gap between our current skills and future needs. Our current staff don’t have the skills required to engineer, manage, analyze and operate an autonomous system or perform the data analysis required to make data-formed planning and programming decisions.
Workforce Evolution. With the increase in workforce transitions and retirements, we are challenged to provide an attractive work environment for a new generation of workers with increased expectations for alternative work arrangements and other benefits that the public sector can provide, at the same time that public sector benefits are declining. We are also challenged by the loss of institutional knowledge when tenured employees transition to new jobs or retire. Our documentation of processes and succession planning is inadequate.
Shift in Role and Focus. As the organization shifts away from highway construction to focus on system maintenance and operations goals, we need to develop a management system and workforce that can be resilient through change and quickly adjust to new strategies, goals and objectives. This includes finding new ways to work together regardless of organizational boundaries and changes.
What Capabilities Are Needed?
Aligning Skills to Needs. agencies must put processes in place to identify and address current and likely future gaps in workforce skills. Enhanced tracking of skillsets and use of creative strategies for providing access to specialized skills (e.g. centers of excellence) may be part of establishing this capability.
Attracting and Retaining. agencies must strengthen their capability to attract and retain the next generation of employees. This may require an overhaul to recruiting strategies as well as staff management, recognition and reward systems.
Technology Adoption. to meet expectations of newer, “born digital” employees, agencies will need to improve their capability to adopt and integrate new technologies supporting process automation, information sharing and collaboration.
What can you do about it?Organizational Management
- Organizational Culture – to create a more collaborative work environment.
- Strategic Workforce Planning – to ensure that the agency is building the right skillsets as workforce transitions occur.
- Recruitment and Retention – to create effective strategies for attracting new talent, and for keeping new employees motivated.
- Succession planning – to smooth transitions as employees leave the agency or change jobs, and use these transitions as an opportunity to build both hard and soft skills in new areas.
- Employee engagement – to ensure there is two-way communication between employees and agency managers and that employees’ concerns are heard and addressed (where feasible).
- Professional development – to build skills in needed areas and provide a growth path for employees.
- Knowledge Audits – to sources of specialized expertise within the agency as well as gaps in critical areas.
- Social and Learning Communities – to establish opportunities for learning and collaborative problem solving.
- Knowledge Capture and Transfer – to facilitate onboarding of new staff and avoid loss of important knowledge when current staff change jobs or leave the agency.
- Learning Organization – to promote a culture in which employees are challenged to improve the agency’s internal processes and services.
- Mentoring – to provide opportunities for newer employees to learn from more experienced employees.
- IT Strategic Planning – to ensure that expectations of newer employees are considered within decisions about IT investments to facilitate internal communication and collaboration.
What resources will help?
- AASHTO Committee on Human Resources: Workforce Toolkit
- TRB Task Force on Knowledge Management (AB010T)
TRB task force tasked with coordinating and facilitating KM topics among TRB standing committees.
- Knowledge Management Guide (online version)
includes tools and resources for understanding, implementing and monitoring a KM plan. Includes a KM directory of agency contacts, templates, references and additional resources.
- AASHTO Committee on Human Resources
Includes tools and resources for HR professionals, including contact information research, a toolkit and salary survey
- AASHTO Committee on Knowledge Management
Includes contacts, information about recent Agency Administration Conference, resources and a forum
- NCHRP 08-125: A Comprehensive Study of Future Competencies for Transportation Planners
The objective of the project is to (a) identify competencies, capabilities, and knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed by transportation planning professionals serving state transportation agencies and other organizations with similar responsibilities and interests within the United States; and (b) develop talent selection and performance management tools for use by transportation agency management and human resource staff to recruit, retain, evaluate, and develop such professionals. These tools could include position descriptions, education and training curricula, critical competency profiles, evaluation metrics, and others.
- NCHRP Synthesis 323 Recruiting and Retaining Individuals in State Transportation Agencies (2003)
As part of TRB’s NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 33-08, Synthesis Report 323: Recruiting and Retaining Individuals in State Transportation Agencies examines various state and Canadian province departments of transportation (DOT) employee recruiting and retention strategies, and highlights those practices that might have the greatest potential for success and implementation in other DOTs.
- NCHRP Synthesis 362 Training Programs, Policies, and Practices (2006)
As part of TRB’s NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 36-07, Synthesis 362: Training Programs, Processes, Policies, and Practices examines the program components required to have a sound set of policies, processes, and procedures for planning, developing, implementing, funding, and evaluating state department of transportation training, development, and education programs. The report provides background on the issues related to the need for robust training, education, and development programs; the administrative infrastructure to sustain robust programs. It summarizes the results of a survey of state DOTs and contains a discussion of successful practices from both industry and government, and insights acquired from thought leader interviews.
- NCHRP Report 693 Attracting, Recruiting, and Retaining Skilled Staff for Transportation System Operations and Management (2012)
TRB’s NCHRP Project 20-86, Report 693: Attracting, Recruiting, and Retaining Skilled Staff for Transportation System Operations and Management, provides guidance to aid transportation agencies recruit and retain qualified professional staff in the systems operation and management (SOM) area. The report explores SOM career paths, skill requirements, and training needs and identifies successful programs, state-of-the-art initiatives, and best industry practices. A set of tables showing SOM job categories, number of positions, and educational requirements for all 50 states was published as a additional to this report.
- NCHRP Report 813 A Guide to Agency-Wide Knowledge Management for State Departments of Transportation (2015)
TRB's NCHRP 20-98, Report 813: A Guide to Agency-Wide Knowledge Management for State Departments of Transportation presents guidance for state transportation agencies on how to adopt knowledge management (KM) strategies and how organizations have implemented such strategies. The goal of this research was to develop a guide to the fundamentals of agency-wide knowledge management for state departments of transportation (DOTs). The guide seeks to inform state DOT leadership and staff on the benefits of KM and how to apply KM in their agencies.