What Does it Take to be a Digital Leader in the Public Sector?

January 6, 20171:01 pm2390 views

The dawn of a new digital era is here. Initially stereotyped as slow-moving, bureaucratic, and inflexible, the public sector is faced with daunting challenge to match pace with the rapid digitalisation boom. Digital transformation offers numerous advantages, such as reducing technical costs, enhancing efficiency and productivity, improving quality of products and services, as well as allowing seamless communication.

However, these paybacks can only be obtained when leaders in the public sector are willing to step up to the challenge and improve their performance in the digital field.

According to recent survey by Oxford Economics highlighted in a white paper by SuccessFactors, the public sector showcased lag in terms of digital transformation and new technology, as in comparison to other sectors. Indeed, there are fundamental company culture differences in the way public and private sectors work, but the need of the hour calls for a digital revolution in both these sectors supported by capable leadership skills.

See: Balancing the Power of ‘Carrot and Stick’

Here are three imperatives for public sector leaders to win in the digital era:

Focus on digital skills. The previous survey presents not-so-surprising findings that only 12 percent organisations in the public sector are qualified as a digital winner. An organisation is categorised as a digital winner when they are able to embrace and utilise digital technology for various business purposes, to include employee retention, decision-making methods, and employee development initiatives.

To be a digital winner, there needs to be a change of strategy that places emphasis on manager skills training. As a highly data-driven organisation, every decision in the public sector should be planned carefully, since the outcome could have huge impact on the citizens.

To obtain precise data assortment, public sector should prioritise on nurturing digital skills among senior leaders and the general workforce. Leaders in each sector should possess an in-depth understanding of staying abreast with the latest technology trends and master the skills required for organisation’s success.

Drive diversity across the organisation. In this increasingly globalised world, the talent mobility across all sectors is at an all-time high. Growing population inhabited by people from various backgrounds needs to be supported by adequate diverse representation across boards in the public sector.

Unfortunately, research proves that only 29 percent public sector executives think, there is growth in diversity within their organisation. This situation clearly needs improvement, given the fact that organisations emphasise on promoting diversity and represent the broad range of constituents. Additionally, 53 percent public sector executives believe diversity will improve company culture, while the other 34 percent believe that it has a positive impact on financial performance.

Emphasis on employee satisfaction. Happy employees will make for a productive workforce. Loyalty and employee satisfaction are amongst the most crucial factors determining organisation’s long term success. Therefore, it is important for leaders to pay critical attention to what is desired by their employees.

Somehow, it has been common knowledge that compared to other sectors, working in the public sector does not attract youth, those belonging to Gen-Z or baby boomers. This is owing to the fact that public sector places less priority and emphasis on developing technologically-advanced workplaces.

While in fact, the workforce of the future are those keenly willing to work for high-performing organisations actively engaged in deployment of advanced technology. Also employee motivation and development play greater role towards building employee satisfaction, along with other factors such as benefits, career opportunities, and company culture.

Undeniably, to be a digital leader in the public sector can be quite challenging for organisations. However, leaders of today should be willing to invest more time into training and technology to grow at sync with the rapidly-evolving digital trends.

Without digital-savvy leaders and high-tech company culture, public sector organisations are expected to lose ground and lose out on the technically-skilled talent, who would quickly transit to private sector jobs. It’s time for the public sector to wake up and embrace truly digital in every way!

Read also: Technological Unawareness Impedes Talent Acquisition Efforts in India

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