«Final Audit Report Audit of Strategies for Recruitment and Retention in Scientific and Medical Disciplines June 2008 Audit of Strategies for ...»
Final Audit Report
Audit of Strategies for Recruitment and Retention in Scientific
and Medical Disciplines
Audit of Strategies for Recruitment and Retention in Scientific and Medical Disciplines
Table of Contents
Scope and Approach
Findings, Recommendations and Management Responses
Planning, Recruitment and Staffing…………………………………….………..….2 Recruitment and Staffing……………………………………………...…..………....4 Retention of Personnel
Recruitment and Retention of Nurses………………………………….…………... 9 Appendices…………………………………………...…………………………………....12 Appendix A: Glossary of Terms Utilized…
Appendix B: Scientific and Medical Group Vacancies and Anticipated Staffing…13 ______________________________________________________________________________________
Health Canada Page i Audit and Accountability Bureau Audit of Strategies for Recruitment and Retention in Scientific and Medical Disciplines Executive Summary Scientific and medical personnel represent 46% of the department’s tenured population.
Health Canada depends on a strong foundation of science and research to fulfil its legislated mandate and contribute to the health and safety of Canadians.
The objective of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of human resources strategies relating to recruiting, staffing and retaining staff in the scientific and medical disciplines.
The audit was conducted by the Audit and Accountability Bureau in accordance with the Government of Canada’s Policy on Internal Audit.
The Department, and Canada at large, has and will continue to face shortages in the medical and scientific groups. While acknowledging the considerable effort expended in developing strategies to deal with shortages in these fields, the audit demonstrated that the department
needs to strengthen efforts in the areas of recruitment, staffing and retention by:
• ensuring that detailed branch and departmental strategic action plans are developed to respond to the human resources planning issues identified and ongoing barriers to recruitment and staffing;
• exploring cost effective alternatives to the existing legacy human resources information system to determine whether they could better respond to the strategic, tracking measurement, monitoring and reporting needs of the organization;
• promoting the preparation of targeted marketing strategies to ensure that there is an adequate flow of candidates for vacant positions;
• promoting an increased emphasis on indeterminate hiring and increasing the use of collective staffing and other inventories to fill vacancies;
• directing the improvement of exit interview information collection, analysis and subsequent action to help ensure the retention of key staff and corporate knowledge.
Introduction Background Health Canada's mission is to help the people of Canada maintain and improve their health. This responsibility covers a wide range of functions, including: regulation of a large variety of products in order to protect health and safety; providing health services to First Nations and Inuit; working with provincial and territorial partners and stakeholders on important reform initiatives; promoting improved health; generating and sharing knowledge and information; and contributing to global health. As a science-based department, Health Canada depends on a strong foundation of science and research to fulfil its legislated mandate and contribute to the health and safety of Canadians. Like the rest of Canada, they are facing the challenges of a shortage of scientific and medical personnel that has persisted for decades. Scientific and medical personnel are critical resources to the successful completion of the Department’s mission and mandate. They represent 46% of the Department’s tenured staff (indeterminate and terms over 3 months, see Appendix A for a glossary of terminology used in this report).
Earlier audits have called attention to certain deficiencies that we again found in carrying out this audit. The 2004 AAB report on the Audit of the Efficiency and Effectiveness of the Staffing Process in Health Canada noted that the Department and branches have not yet developed and implemented a staffing strategy to support the achievement of the Department’s mandate. Occupations with shortages of qualified candidates had been identified but only limited staffing plans had been developed and implemented to address the shortages. The 2004 report also highlighted the need for a more in-depth analysis of the present demographics, project retirement and growth factors to support the development of a staffing strategy including succession planning in Health Canada; and highlighted concerns about the significant use of short-term staffing.
Objective The objective of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of human resources strategies relating to recruiting, staffing and retaining staff in the scientific and medical disciplines.
Scope and Approach The audit examined activities relating to human resources planning, recruitment and retention; and strategies related to key risk groups in the scientific and medical disciplines of Health Canada. The aspect of retention focused on issues within the Department’s control. The audit focused on the actions taken by the Human Resources Services Directorate (HRSD) within Corporate Services Branch. Contacts also included the Office of the Chief Scientist, and selected personnel in PACRB, HECSB, HPFB and FNIHB.
Health Canada Audit and Accountability Bureau Page 1 of 13 Audit of Strategies for Recruitment and Retention in Scientific and Medical Disciplines The audit was conducted in and focused on corporate initiatives taken within the National Capital Region, although selected persons responsible for recruitment in regions were contacted. The audit period focused on actions that took place since the updated Public Service Employment Act took effect on December 31, 2005.
The audit was conducted in accordance with the Government of Canada’s Policy on Internal Audit.
Findings, Recommendations and Management Responses The audit’s findings are presented under two major headings: “Planning, recruitment and staffing” and “Retention of staff”. These headings correspond to our two Lines of Enquiry.
Planning, Recruitment and Staffing In examining this area, we looked at the Department’s human resources (HR) systems and procedures relating to planning for, and recruiting and staffing of scientific and medical staff. Our objective was to assess the adequacy of these systems. We would have expected to find that they were enabling the Department to meet its current and future needs for scientific and medical personnel in a timely and cost-effective manner. The audit found, however, weaknesses in these systems that were hindering the Department’s efforts to do so.
During the departmental risk-based audit planning exercise, AAB noted that departmental managers expressed concern with the strategies and practices for ensuring that Health Canada has sufficient qualified people to achieve its short, medium and long term objectives. The departmental Summary of Human Resources Priorities for 2007-2008 noted significant needs for scientific and medical personnel.
Human resources planning needs improvement. Effective HR planning processes are central to managing the increasing turnover rates that the Department is facing. In 2006-2007, the rate at which employees left Health Canada increased to 18.4% from 13.5% three years earlier. The growth in the departure rate was largest for indeterminate staff, increasing from 500 leaving in 2004-2005, to 911 in 2006-2007. The greatest turnover occurred in the Nursing category. In 2006-2007, some 115 indeterminate nursing staff out of a population of 547 (21%) left the Department.
Appendix B provides more detailed statistics on turnover rates for 2006-2007 and the gap between the total number of positions available and those currently filled.
Progress has occurred in developing the new human resources (HR) planning process, which is now in its second year of implementation. The process is well documented, and its objective is to integrate HR planning with operational planning. As part of the process, the Human Resources Services Directorate has developed departmental action plans to deal with recruitment and retention issues for scientific and medical personnel. These ______________________________________________________________________________________
Health Canada Audit and Accountability Bureau Page 2 of 13 Audit of Strategies for Recruitment and Retention in Scientific and Medical Disciplines plans acknowledge the need for the Department to commit to participating in university recruitment fairs, and to support cross-branch collective staffing. In addition, they identify possible leadership roles for each of the branches for particular occupational groups. Despite this progress, the HR planning process is deficient in certain key respects, as noted below.
Lack of detailed plans. We found that HR plans largely focus on what needs to be done to meet departmental needs for scientific and medical staff. However, they do not provide detailed steps—i.e., a roadmap—that show how the Department will actually meet these needs. For example, plans do not generally provide detailed branch and departmental action plans for dealing with particular recruitment, staffing and retention issues that have been identified. They also fail to specify either who is responsible for doing what, or the timelines for achieving measurable outputs or results. Although the Department is progressively building its HR plans, the gaps noted above in the existing HR plans, especially the lack of accountability for achieving results, will compromise Health Canada’s ability to address any current or future shortfall in scientific and medical staff.
Recommendation No. 1
It is recommended that the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Corporate Services Branch ensure that detailed departmental strategic action plans are developed that respond to both the human resources planning issues identified, and ongoing barriers to recruitment and staffing.
Management Response Management agrees with the recommendation and has committed to
• Develop and communicate an Integrated Departmental Business and HR Plan.
• Build a staffing/recruitment strategy to be presented to HR Council by end of May 2008 covering difficult to staff Science and Technology positions.
• Develop a recruitment framework based on a proactive, innovative and aggressive sourcing strategy.
Health Canada Audit and Accountability Bureau Page 3 of 13 Audit of Strategies for Recruitment and Retention in Scientific and Medical Disciplines The HR information system. A human resources information system (HRIS) facilitates the Department’s efforts to develop specific HR plans and strategies at the branch or department-wide level. HRIS personnel are responsive to requests for information, and they have developed a variety of HRIS tools to support HR planning.
However, the existing system’s limitations make it difficult for them to provide additional support to human resources professionals and line managers and provide information to central agencies and to senior management for decision-making purposes.
We noted that the system does not facilitate measurement, analysis and monitoring of staffing actions and their relation to plans and service-related information in areas such as turn around times. The core staff who support the system thoroughly understand its capacity and limitations. Its limitations mean that considerable effort is required to respond to ad hoc requests for information that is not readily available from the HRIS, but which would facilitate the HR planning process.
Recommendation No. 2
It is recommended that the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Corporate Services Branch explore cost-effective alternatives to the existing Human Resources Information System that would better respond to the strategic, tracking, measurement, and monitoring and reporting needs of the organization.
Management agrees with the recommendation and has committed to:
• investigate the move to a new human resources management system, including the identification of options and the development of an implementation strategy.
Recruitment and Staffing As noted below, a number of factors pose barriers to recruiting candidates for positions and, subsequently, staffing (i.e., appointing them to) these positions.
Tapping the sources of candidates Health Canada has been facing shortages of scientific and medical staff for some time.
Problems associated with recruiting and retaining them are not unique to Health Canada and audits, task forces and studies over the past two decades have identified the shortages in Canada in the scientific and medical disciplines. Currently, the Department is pursuing various strategies to attract these staff including, but not limited to, outreach initiatives to universities and hiring students for summer and co-op sessions. However, it has no formal, targeted marketing strategy based on knowledge of the sources of the recruits and how to best access them.