- The research findings were presented during an event organized by EY under the auspices of the Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy
- Just 7% of public sector executives believe their organization has achieved its digital transformation goals
- Digitization moves slowly due to skills shortages and anachronistic ways of working
- The battle to retain existing workforce with digital skills among the top three obstacles to provide better public services
Governments around the world are at risk of letting their citizens down because of the slow pace of digitalisation, according to global EY research presented in a new report: “How can public sector executives and technology align to serve future citizens?'.
Less than one in ten public sector executives surveyed (7%) believe that their organization has achieved its digital transformation goals, while the momentum for digitalization created during the pandemic risks being lost.
The research on the challenges of digital transformation in the public sector was presented during an event held under the auspices of the Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, on Thursday, April 6 at the “Conference Center Filoxenia”. The event organized by EY included an overview of the Digital State Workforce report and findings, global and regional examples and best practices for enabling, as well as a discussion on the current state and future of the public sector in Cyprus.
The Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, Filippos Chatzizacharias, delivered a greeting. A discussion followed with the participation of the Deputy Minister in addition to the President, Irini Piki, the Director General of the Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, Dra Stelios Chimona, the Director of the Department of Public Administration and Personnel of the Ministry of Finance, Elena Oikonomidou Azina, the Head of Advisory Services of EY Cyprus, Giorgou Tziortzis and the Head of Human Resources Consulting Services, EY Cyprus Panagiotis Thrasyvoulos.
According to the new report, the public sector workforce surveyed are not prepared to take advantage of the huge expected benefits of digitalisation, such as improving access to digital services, using data analytics to predict when vulnerable people they will need more help, and increase efficiency and effectiveness overall.
Many respondents feel constrained by a combination of issues such as a lack of digitally savvy leaders, a lack of digital and data skills and the necessary training to access them, and an organizational culture that is reactive and uninspiring; hindering efforts to attract the best talent with digital skills. Meanwhile, 38% of Gen Z public sector workers surveyed say they plan to leave their jobs within the next 12 months, creating for governments the added challenge of retaining a digitally literate workforce. of talent they already have as the public sector's oldest workforce approaches retirement.
As many global trends converge to create an environment of upheaval for governments, this includes challenges, but also significant opportunities, for the digital transformation of the public sector. In order to address these issues, the report recommends a framework of four key actions that governments should take in order to create a workforce equipped for the future:
strong>Adopt a dynamic human resource planning.Taking a longer-term view of human resource adequacy and needs and building a strategy to access the necessary skills.
2. Enhancing digital skills. Upskilling or reskilling current workers, attracting new talent and enhancing the attractiveness of the public sector as an employer, emphasizing the possibility of a career and progression with a clear purpose.
3. Strengthen digital leadership and culture. Managing digital transformation requires leaders who can challenge the status quo, articulating a compelling vision for change while training employees in a digital mindset.< /p>
4. Redefining the employee experience.Creating a personalized employee experience that treats each employee as a unique individual, offering a structured career path to help employees progress and fulfill their career aspirations.
According to EY's analysis, citizens now expect from their dealings with the public sector levels of quality, speed and convenience, on par with the private sector, with immediate, seamless access to services through multiple channels. Citizens expect digital technology to improve the way they go about many aspects of their lives – and they are demanding that governments adapt to this trend.
Today, governments are responding to these demands by trying to focus more on the needs of citizens. According to research by EY, 43% of respondents rank a focus on the customer/citizen experience as one of the top three drivers of successful transformation. This requires better use of technology and data to understand citizens' needs, as well as new skills such as research and user experience design.
Public sector workers also want a digital workplace, which matches their personal experience and feel that governments are not doing enough. According to EY's 2022 survey, Work Reimagined, 63% of respondents believe extensive or considerable changes are needed to improve digital tools and technologies in their workplace.
Millennials and Gen Zers are more likely to prefer a shorter tenure in one job, but to pursue a focused career with clear purpose and greater satisfaction, with 63% of Gen Z public sector employees surveyed stating that they place more importance on the clear connection between their work and the overall purpose of the organization, rather than monetary rewards. At the same time, workers of all ages are seeking a healthier work-life balance. Attracting and retaining younger workers is particularly important as many civil servants are approaching retirement (almost a third of central government workers in OECD member countries are over 55), while 29% of civil servants who participated in the EY survey, Work Reimagined Survey,said they would likely leave their current job within the next 12 months, rising to 38% among members of Generation Z.
Commenting on the survey findings, Giorgos Tziortzis, Partner, Head of Consulting Services at EY Cyprus, said: “The experience of the pandemic has clearly shown us that the digitization of the state is the only way to upgrade the level of services and improve the experience of citizens, but also to reduce the cost of public sector. To seize this opportunity, we need a culture change and digitally aware leadership. Above all, however, the state should attract and create the necessary incentives for people with the required skills and sense of purpose. This will allow the public sector to become more efficient, provide personalized and targeted services and improve the lives of its citizens”.
On his part, Panagiotis Thrasyvoulos, Partner, Head of Human Resources Advisory Services at EY Cyprus, said: “Digitalization offers a unique opportunity for the state to improve services through the use of data, personalization and targeting of services, providing a seamless and modern experience to citizens, but also reducing costs and better allocating resources where needed. As our report reveals, progress so far has been limited, for a number of reasons, including a workforce that lacks the necessary digital and data analytics skills, limited training opportunities, an uninspiring organizational culture and an absence of digitally savvy leaders . The event organized by EY provided an opportunity to discuss with government officials our recommendations that will help the state rise to the challenge and deliver the level of service that citizens and taxpayers expect.”
Read the report here.