Kiran Ahuja, the newly confirmed director of the Office of Personnel Management, may just be the leader the embattled human resources agency has needed. Let’s hope so. She is taking over at a time when government has serious workforce problems and OPM’s influence has declined. In other sectors, HR’s role is undergoing revolutionary change. It was not too many years ago that the function was slammed as a “necessary evil” in a Fast Company article titled “Why We Hate HR.” OPM has been called worse.
In the private sector, the transformation is discussed in a new report, “Accelerating the Journey to HR 3.0,” based on research by IBM and Josh Bersin, a prominent researcher on HR issues. With the changes in work management prompted by the pandemic and President Biden’s commitment to repair and rebuild the civil service, this is the time for government’s chief human capital officers to take that seat at the table. As the report argues, HR offices need “to focus on the employee experience and drive reskilling, cultural transformation, and an evolution to new models of work.” Research in organizations that have undergone reform confirms that is important to making government careers attractive and raising performance levels.