Huntsville, Ala. --
Tracking human capital data helps the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville keep the big picture in focus when it comes to workforce planning.
During a recent business meeting to review human capital data, the Huntsville Center’s leadership discussed succession planning over the last fiscal year as well as the future workforce needs.
Huntsville Center employs a workforce of more than 1,000 highly skilled, technical professionals. Managing the human capital of an organization this size and balancing hiring and retention with mission requirements can be a challenge.
Human capital data tracking enables the Center to monitor information such as hiring action timelines, rates of attrition and percentages of those eligible for retirement now or in the near future.
Laura Beth Quick, Human Capital manager for Huntsville Center, briefed second quarter reports on workforce strength, emphasizing the importance of keeping an eye on the numbers.
“Tracking this data allows us to keep our leadership informed so as they look out over the next fiscal year’s manpower budgets, or even out over the next five years, they have the information they need to make decisions about the future of the workforce.”
Huntsville Center’s recent streamlining and consolidation of data into a single dashboard has allowed more information to be readily available. This technology is being utilized across the full spectrum of its programs and has been especially useful in human capital.
“The data collection process used to involve requesting multiple reports from multiple individuals and then waiting for information and spreadsheets to be complied,” Quick explained. “Now that process is almost fully automated and the information can be accessed on the dashboard at any time.”
The improved efficiency of accessing human capital data benefits workforce planning, and its usefulness goes beyond tracking retirement dates.
Albert Marin III, Huntsville Center’s programs manager, explained how using human capital data for workforce planning allows managers to do more than simply replace personnel as they retire.
“Succession planning is not just about planning for personnel loss due to retirement or departure,” Marin said. “It’s also about awareness and planning for the professional development of the current workforce so they are prepared to step up into roles with greater technical requirements and responsibilities.”
Huntsville Center’s workforce will need to maintain a consistent growth rate to account for the percentage of retirements expected over the next five years and the steady increase in programs and projects that will require more skilled professionals.
Tracking data on retention rates and attrition treads allows hiring managers to know what positions have a high turnover rate or are hard to fill due to required technical expertise. This information allows for the strategic focusing of recruiting and hiring efforts.
Targeted outreach events at university career fairs and diversity outreach events offer opportunities for students to learn about the Huntsville Center mission and often apply for job openings on the spot.
“Getting the specific technical expertise needed at Huntsville Center can be a challenge,” Marin explained. “So in many cases we are training our own experts. Most of what we do is cutting edge technology.”
Huntsville Center has become known by the Corps of Engineers and the Army as the test bed for new innovation in areas such as cyber security compliance and automated building systems. Programs and projects no one has done before.
“There are no technical schools or universities that teach a lot of what we do. So what we try to do is take mechanical engineering graduates and electrical or structural engineering graduates and teach them the hands on component,” Marin said. “We are giving them the technical hands-on experience and expertise they need to build solutions for our stakeholders.”
Keeping track of the current and future workforce needs keeps Huntsville Center on the leading edge of program management and technical innovation so its professionals can continue to provide innovative engineering solutions to meet the needs of its stakeholders and the nation.