Public employment and management

Workforce Planning and Management


Strategic Human Resource Management
Strategic human resource management allows governments to align their workforce with their goals. It enables governments to have the right number of people with the right skills at the right place. Such practices help governments increase efficiency, responsiveness and quality in service delivery.

A sample of OECD work on strategic workforce management reveals the extent to which governments use performance assessments, capacity reviews and other tools to engage in and promote strategic workforce planning.

  Use of strategic human resource management practices in central government (2010)


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Ageing of the Workforce

The majority of OECD member countries are experiencing population ageing, which is even more marked in the central governments of OECD countries. In all but four OECD member countries, central government workforces have a higher ratio of workers 50 years or older than in the total labour force.

The expected wave of retirements could provide an opportunity for governments to restructure their workforce. However, the departure of staff could also lead to a loss of knowledge and experience. Mitigating these effects could require HRM practices aimed at increasing the attractiveness of the central government as an employer.


Percentage of employees 50 years or older in central government and total labour force (2009)


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Workforce Allocation

Achieving the most efficient and effective size and allocation of the public service workforce is an ongoing challenge for OECD member countries. This challenge is exacerbated by fiscal pressures following the economic crisis and new public service demands resulting from population ageing and the emerging opportunities. Careful workforce planning and strategic human resources management reforms help to ensure that governments continue to deliver quality public services while responding to the need to reduce or maintain budgets.

In 2010, over three-quarters of OECD countries indicated that they were planning reforms that would decrease the size of their public service workforce.

Anticipated changes in employment levels in more than 50% of agencies and ministries (2010)


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Workforce diversity makes for a stronger, fairer public service, one that better understands and meets people’s expectations. By improving representation in government of the different social groups, diversity in policy making can play a part in maintaining core public values, increasing managerial efficiency, improving policy effectiveness, raising the quality of public services, and enhancing social mobility.


Employee compensation plays an important role in attracting, motivating and retaining qualified workers to government jobs. It also forms a significant part of government expenditures as compensation costs depend on the number and remuneration of staff that governments employ.

Recent OECD work allows for the comparison of compensation levels between senior managers, middle managers, professionals and secretaries. These data show the relative total remuneration of these groups, including salaries, social benefits, and future pension earnings, across OECD countries


Key Questions

  • Do those who have the authority to hire and train staff have access to reliable information about the organisation’s required skills and competencies, future supply and demand of labour, and incentives?
  • Does government make decisions based on systematic studies on how to improve the workforce?
  • Can government change the size and allocation of the workforce without disruption to output delivery?
  • Does government have the capacity to recruit, retain and reallocate qualified staff, and can it reduce the workforce without undue delay if necessary?


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