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Training the Public Safety Workforce of Tomorrow

INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE

Training the Public Safety Workforce of Tomorrow

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Executive Summary For several years, governments at all levels have been preparing for the forthcoming retirements of a large segment of their most experienced workers. The Human Capital Institute reports that 60 percent of the government workforce and 90 percent of its senior leadership are currently eligible to retire. As of 2016, it appears those retirements may be accelerating across many state and local governments. A 2016 Center for State and Local Government Excellence survey revealed that more than 54 percent of surveyed governments reported an increase in retirements from the previous year. To prepare for the impending talent crisis, public safety organizations must maintain peak performance and productivity of their current workforces. In order to do so, these entities need an effective talent strategy combined with cloud-based technology to help streamline and automate the processes behind talent management and workforce training. To learn more about how public safety organizations can better recruit, prepare and retain their workforces, GovLoop sat down with Joseph Roche, Director of State and Local Government at Cornerstone OnDemand. Cornerstone provides a cloud-based, unified talent management suite to help organizations effectively recruit, engage and retain their people. In this report, you’ll learn how public safety organizations can effectively combine the right talent strategy with cloud-based technology to train their workers as well as manage new, incoming and exiting talent. Additionally, you’ll learn how the Ventura County Fire Department helped its firefighters through better training and management solutions.

Industry Perspective

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The Need for an Effective Talent Strategy Public safety organizations need an effective talent strategy to hire a diverse workforce, attract and retain new talent, improve knowledge transfer from experienced to younger employees, establish focus and accountability, motivate and reward employees, and implement eff ective succession planning. A talent strategy can vary based on agency mission and overall requirements of their workforce. Essentially, it’s a way for leaders and HR to work together to define mission objectives and optimize employee skillsets to meet those objectives. And it must be a continuous process.

“Succession planning is not just an isolated process but a continuous model,” Roche said. “Agencies need to focus on designing development and opportunity plans for new employees all the way to middle management. And as you lose expertise from exiting workers, you may also lose processes. Agencies must keep these processes well-documented and circulate them through the future leaders of the organization.”

To develop a more powerful and effective workforce, public safety organizations should apply these three best practices to their talent strategy: 1 Identify and align goals.

2 Use a learning platform.

First, agency leaders need to discuss their organization’s priorities. Then, build out a talent strategy that reflects and facilitates these goals. As part of that plan, managers should hold frequent performance discussions with employees to ensure alignment and transparency.

Use a learning platform to provide on-demand access to training modules that reflect employee goals and interests. Managers can also assign courses as they see fit. A learning platform should be available to employees 24/7 and accessible via mobile devices.

To help employees achieve these goals and, in turn, help the organization realize its vision, HR must strategically assign trainings so staff acquire the required skills and competencies to drive mission success.

Leaders should also prioritize collaborative learning. Employees can share expertise and knowledge from the field, discuss key experiences and trade best practices. By providing learning and development opportunities for employees, organizations will spur employee engagement, increase retention and build a workforce with the skills necessary to drive organizational mission objectives.

3 Build bench strength. To effectively manage talent and foster growth, agency leaders need to identify their highest-performing employees, as well as ones with the most potential. Training these high-impact workers with the right skills will help them move into new roles as needed. This will save significant time and costs associated with external recruiting. At the same time, agencies should be building organizational depth by capturing and sharing existing workers’ knowledge. In-house social platforms and collaborative learning initiatives foster exchanges of critical knowledge and vital experience from the field. This ensures that when workers retire or change roles, the organization doesn’t lose that information.

An effective talent strategy is ultimately a people strategy that does more than simply recruit to fill empty desks. It also builds an impactful workforce that is engaged, productive and aligned with agency goals. To facilitate an effective talent strategy, leaders need unified talent management to direct every phase of the workforce, from retention through succession. Training the Public Safety Workforce of Tomorrow

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The Need for a Talent Management Solution In addition to the right talent strategy, public safety organizations need a holistic talent management solution that can better track employee data, produce reports and enhance training. A talent management suite also enables HR professionals to effectively manage the full hire-to-retire lifecycle of government employees. It does this by automatically generating reports to track employee data, creating easy-touse dashboards and enhancing mobility so employees can train or work in the office or out on the field. An ideal talent management solution can be deployed in a unified cloud platform. “A cloud-based, unified talent management suite allows you to manage all your data in one system repository,” Roche said. “This makes it easier to leverage real-time data for the full hire-to-retire

lifecycle, not only for the employee, but the agency as a whole.” A talent management suite provided in the cloud can also enhance training initiatives for public safety organizations with more engaging instruction and easier ways to ensure employees are completing their mandated trainings. “With public safety training, you need to be more hands-on and interactive,” Roche said. “Cloud helps with simulation in training, such as observation checklists. At the same time, you can track those trainings and information and put it into one system, producing a transcript for the entire employee lifecycle, providing portability so even if that employee moves to another department or agency, that transcript moves with them.”

There are three key benefits that demonstrate why a talent management suite provided in the cloud is essential to public safety organizations and state and local government overall:

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Increase security.

So long as agencies pick the right vendor that can dedicate more time and resources to security, cloud-based solutions can be safe offsite with a third-party vendor. Agencies should choose vendors that can guarantee less likelihood of a data breach by insider threats or hackers. Additionally, agencies can have their employee training data monitored 24/7 for breaches, downtime and even unusual patterns or behavior in networks.

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Eliminate unnecessary redundancy.

With cloud-based training tools, every employee in the organization is using the same software. Because key processes are performed using the same version of the same tools, agencies get improved consistency of processes and data across all teams and departments. Employees can focus on learning new skills, rather than learning different training technologies.

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Reduce costs.

On-premise, legacy infrastructure is far costlier to maintain than cloud-based tools. With cloud, vendors – not the organization – are responsible for maintenance, improvements, uptime and keeping data secure. That way, public safety leaders can focus on training employees.


Solutions for the Workforce of Tomorrow Public safety officers need the best training possible in order to keep communities safe and ensure public trust. Whether in the police, fire or emergency-related fields, officers are constantly being confronted with challenging and complex situations. Effective training tools can help public safety professionals keep citizens safe. Additionally, the right training tools and technology can help mitigate risk, streamline compliance and processes and reduce liability. Cornerstone’s Unified Talent Management software can help public safety organizations develop long-term, sustainable and successful workforces. With those solutions, agencies can: Achieve compliance Meet state and local training mandates with a comprehensive learning management system (LMS). This helps streamline an organization’s completion of training and compliance tasks with 24/7 online availability. An LMS that automatically complies with regulations also reduces human error.

Make training more convenient Use online training that is constantly available anywhere there is an internet connection. Employees can complete mandatory training on their own time, eliminating the need for someone to schedule and monitor training activities.

Improve recordkeeping

Increase comprehension.

Deliver training and decrease workplace accidents. Schedule, track and report on training assignments and compliance tasks.

Allow employees to complete courses and videos at their own pace and on their own time, helping improve overall productivity and engagement.

Reduce liability

Go mobile

Create a paper trail to document compliance and proof of training in case of litigation. Deliver training to change any unsafe behaviors that lead to costly worker’s compensation claims and overtime costs.

Deliver training and track records from anywhere, on any device, whether on patrol or off duty.

View reports through dashboards Access comprehensive reports in real time for analyzing organizational risk. Monitor assignment completions in real time and generate comprehensive data reports.

Most public safety officials are managing, training and saving lives, so they’re doing multiple jobs. Agencies need the ability to make it easier for employees to train and get back to the work they do.” Joseph Roche

Director of State and Local Government at Cornerstone

Monitor performance Observe employees as they perform critical job duties or undergo training. Leaders can also provide continuous feedback and coaching while accurately tracking skills and competencies.

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LMS in Action at the Ventura County Fire Department The employees of the Ventura County Fire Department work to provide fire protection, medical aid, rescue, hazardous materials response and a variety of vital services to the citizens of Ventura County. The Fire Department serves more than 480,000 residents with a response area spanning 848 miles.

To make sure Ventura County is a safer place, the Fire Department strives to deliver continuously improved training and equipment. To learn how, GovLoop sat down with John Spykerman, Training Chief; Mike Milkovich, Assistant Chief; and Quane Huff, Learning Management System Program Manager from the Ventura County Fire Department. They explained how they leveraged a new learning platform to improve training, expedite reporting and cut costs.

Improving Training Efficiencies Through A Learning Platform At the department’s regional training center, Chief Spykerman and his team host fire academies for new firefighters before they get assigned to fire stations. They also host training events for firefighter certifications and qualifications. Much of the training at fire stations is ad hoc, making it difficult to plan and track. Trainings can be scheduled sporadically without much notice. “Approximately 70 percent of the training we do is selected by our field personnel as it becomes available,” Assistant Chief Milkovich said. “We’d be documenting nearly four hours’ worth of drills from 32 different stations every day,” Spykerman said. “The training staff simply couldn’t document all of that.” To increase efficiencies, the team turned to Cornerstone’s learning management system to help both employees and management better track training.

“First, we wanted our employees to be able to have access to their own training records instead of calling down to our training division and having us pull paper, duplicate, then send,” Assistant Chief Milkovich said. “Second, we wanted our management team to be able to use data to reliably say when a person had training, and what that training was.” So far, the team has been able to keep track of employee progress and trainings completed, all from one cloud platform.

Ensuring Compliance Through Automation Compliance training email reminders for important certifications, like EMT renewal, are automatically built into the system. Management doesn’t have to manually keep records and can focus on other important priorities instead. Additionally, the new system has saved the department money and time spent on manual paperwork. “Before, we used to have lots of paper and binders to manage,” Quane Huff said. “Now, everything’s enabled on mobile devices, so you don’t have to print anymore to access training documents.” Firefighters can pull up the documentation or training videos they need any time, on any device, including phone, iPad and other mobile devices. “All they have to do is click on an icon on our homepage that takes them right to the page they need to go,” Quane Huff said. “As an administrator, I can

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pull all the reporting easily and make sure they’re getting all the trainings in.”

Managing the Challenges While the unified system has helped the department improve efficiencies, the transition from legacy systems to newer ones didn’t come without challenges. “We went from 0 to 60 and it was a big change for our folks,” Assistant Chief Milkovich said. “We made such a quantum leap that many of our employees struggled to move over from what they did in the past, which was simple entries into databases.” To make ensure a smoother transition to cloud, Assistant Chief Milkovich recommended taking a more incremental approach and helping employees ease into the transition. But overall, the new system has proved useful to equipping firefighters and enabling easier access to trainings. Whether it’s a fire, medical or other type of emergency, the first responders are often firefighters who continue to play vital roles in their communities. At places like the Ventura County Fire Department, preparing employees to put their lives on the line for their citizens and communities is vital. Having a cloud platform like Cornerstone’s can help automate the process of tracking and reporting data while making training available to employees in all types of preferred formats. By being better prepared, these courageous professionals can be better equipped to serve.


Conclusion With public safety agencies being asked to do so much with such limited resources, the risks of not having a talent strategy or cloudbased platform are steep. But getting it right has significant rewards, such as improved morale, higher engagement and an increased sense of ownership and commitment from employees. Even more important, it helps keep communities and citizens safe. An effective talent strategy combined with a talent management solution in the cloud can help public safety organizations face the impending state and local talent crisis. Talent management platforms like Cornerstone’s can help these organizations better recruit, retain and train their employees, preparing a stronger state and local workforce for tomorrow.

About Cornerstone

About GovLoop

Cornerstone OnDemand (NASDAQ: CSOD) is pioneering solutions to help organizations realize the potential of the modern workforce. As a global leader in cloud-based learning and human capital management software, Cornerstone is designed to enable a lifetime of learning and development that is fundamental to the growth of employees and organizations. From recruitment, onboarding, training and collaboration, to performance management, compensation, succession planning, people administration and analytics, Cornerstone is there at every phase of the employee lifecycle.

GovLoop’s mission is to “connect government to improve government.” We aim to inspire publicsector professionals by serving as the knowledge network for government. GovLoop connects more than 250,000 members, fostering crossgovernment collaboration, solving common problems and advancing government careers. GovLoop is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with a team of dedicated professionals who share a commitment to connect and improve government.

Cornerstone is a single, unified solution that is completely configurable to meet the talent strategy, compliance, business and workflow needs of an organization. Cornerstone works with corporations of all sizes, government agencies, hospitals, nonprofits and schools. Our software and services are used by more than 3,000 clients worldwide, spanning more than 32 million users across 192 countries and 43 languages.

For more information about this report, please reach out to info@govloop.com. govloop.com | @govloop

For more information, visit www.cornerstoneondemand.com/state-local.

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Training the Public Safety Workforce of Tomorrow