Get Your Shades Now—The Future's Still Bright: Leveraging Human Resources for Tomorrow's Public Service

Date01 May 2019
Published date01 May 2019
AuthorR. Paul Battaglio,Jeremy L. Hall
Get Your Shades Now—The Future’s Still Bright: Leveraging Human Resources for Tomorrow’s Public Service 301
For the past 10 years, public human resource
management has evolved from a focus on
hard skills for public service (e.g., education,
professional training) to a greater interest in soft
skills—those that are more interpersonal in nature.
Indeed, a recent report from The Volcker Alliance,
entitled “Preparing Tomorrow’s Public Service,” places
a premium on interpersonal skills and competencies
associated with developing such a skill set (Volcker
Alliance 2018). Drawing from a survey using a diverse
group of regional, governmental, and educational
levels across the United States, the data show the
importance of soft skills such as commitment
(75 percent of survey respondents expect to stay
in government for the long term) and motivation
(71 percent believe they are making good progress
in fulfilling their professional aspirations) in the
development of future public service leaders
(p. 14). Survey respondents further emphasized the
importance of the role that such soft skills play in
creating high-performance government.
Ever mindful of the future, PAR is committed to
a better understanding of these soft skills and the
role scholarship can play in advancing evidence-
based practice. The articles in this issue were chosen
specifically for this reason as they amalgamate the
themes of the Volcker Report with broader public
administration scholarship. Advancing dialogue on
human resource development for a future generation
of public servants will entail: (1) empowering public
servants to achieve a meaningful contribution; (2)
appreciating the role behavioral science can play
in eliciting meaning; (3) developing a common
lexicon of evidence-based research practices; and
(4) understanding the role diversity plays in a
demographically changing world.
Meaningful Public Service
One of the biggest takeaways from the Volcker
Alliance report was the important role that soft
skills—interpersonal effectiveness and personal
resilience—play in building the public service of
tomorrow (p. 14). Empowering employees and
emphasizing collaboration will increasingly determine
the extent to which meaning can be found from
one’s contribution to the greater good. Hameduddin
and Fernandez (2019) demonstrate that supportive
managerial practices aimed at getting employees to
become more engaged with their work—such as
listening to employees, treating them with respect,
communicating expectations, and promoting growth
and development—can lead to higher performance.
Likewise, Hassan, Park, and Raadschelders (2019)
show that an empowering leadership style is a
motivational tool for improving proficiency and
conscientiousness among police officers, thus
positively affecting work units in public organizations.
Public employees with high levels of public service
motivation and civic engagement are also more
likely to perform environmentally friendly behaviors
in both workplace and nonworkplace settings, a
positive spillover from a soft skill approach (Azhar
and Yang 2019). Expanding the call to public service
to include international organizations, Giauque and
Varone (2019) show that commitment within these
institutions is predicated upon altruistic, social, and
extrinsic work opportunities.
Leveraging Meaning through Behavioral
How we act on the insight gleaned from soft skill
development also matters. Appreciating the role
behavioral science can play in eliciting meaning may
also prove to be a fruitful endeavor. In this issue,
Battaglio Jr. et al. (2019) provide a comprehensive
overview of how policy makers, practitioners, and
scholars can fruitfully use behavioral science to
tackle public administration, management, and
policy issues. This stream of research illustrates how
cognitive biases systematically affect public policy and
management decisions. Recent work in behavioral
science illuminates the gap between how people
should behave and how they actually behave, thus
moving beyond traditional models of full rationality
in decision making. Leveraging behavioral science
Jeremy L. Hall
University of Central Florida
R. Paul Battaglio
University of Texas at Dallas
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 79, Iss. 3, pp. 301–303. © 2019 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.13066.
Get Your Shades Now—The Future’s Still Bright: Leveraging
Human Resources for Tomorrow’s Public Service

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT