Researchers Have Settled The Question Of Whether It’s Better To Work From Home Or The Office

It’s an old debate: Some cite research suggesting that remote workers earn more, quit less, and are more productive than their office-dwelling counterparts. Others point to evidence that workers at home are less productive and less innovative than workers who labor shoulder-to-shoulder.

Which camp is right? Probably both. And neither. There’s actually only one right answer to the question of whether employees work better at home or in the office, says Ben Waber, the CEO of the workplace analytics company Humanyze and a visiting scientist at MIT: It depends. For more, click here.

What do you think? Is working from home effective for your job? In your organization? In your circumstances, how could remote work be more productive and satisfying?

Should the Government Fire More People and How Should They Do It?

Does the government fire enough people? Does it deal effectively with poor performers? Is the disciplinary and adverse action process effective?

At the risk of offending a few folks, I have to say the answer to all three questions is probably no. The government does not fire a large percentage of its employees in a typical year. The data is available in OPM’s excellent Fedscope tool. In Fiscal 2016, the number fired was 10,519. At the end of fiscal 2016 the government had 2,097,038 employees, so roughly 1 in 200  or 0.5% of employees were fired. If we look only at permanent employees, 9,579 of 1,951,334 employees were fired (1 in 204 or 0.49%). The VA fired 2,575 employees (1 in 145 or 0.69 percent) in FY2016.

Direct comparisons to the private sector are not easy, but if we compare the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) “layoff and discharge” rate we see that the private sector lays off or fires about 1.2 – 1.3 percent of employees. Government rates (adding in the small number of RIFs as well) are much lower than that of the private sector. However, the private sector numbers are lumping layoffs and discharges together, most likely because the line between those is often blurred. Companies often characterize removals as layoffs, while the government does not.

It is important to note that firing people is not the only measure of how agencies and companies deal with poor performance and misconduct. For more, click here.

Do you agree with Jeff Neal’s core principles for a governmentwide disciplinary/adverse action process? Why or why not? What would you add or subtract from the process?

The High Cost of Low Engagement

What effects of low engagement have you seen during your federal career?

White House Wants to Increase Federal Employee Buyout Payments

The Trump administration has asked Congress to increase the amount agencies can offer employees for early retirement from $25,000 to $40,000 as it gears up for major workforce reductions in some agencies.

An Office of Management and Budget spokesperson confirmed that the Defense Department made the request to Congress last month. In the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress approved a one-year pilot program allowing for a maximum $40,000 buyout for civilian defense employees through the Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment program.

The annual defense authorization bill for fiscal 2018 (H.R.2810) is slated to receive a floor vote in the House later this week. The bill currently would extend last year’s pilot program until 2021, but it does not appear to expand it to all agencies. For more, click here.

A Playbook for User-Centered Hiring

A new analysis of government hiring found the “very people they need to make government more responsive to the public are the people driven away by the poor user experience.” …  Hiring managers routinely complain about the lack of qualified candidates for positions. Code for America saw this as a problem because in order for governments to serve the American public in the 21st century, the nonprofit believes governments need to be able to recruit 21st century talent. So, in the fall of 2016, Code for America started investigating ways governments could meet that challenge, by launching a talent initiative to study roadblocks governments face when trying to recruit the best talent for these positions. By interviewing 28 people in all parts of the job seeking process, from those who have a job in government to those considering a job in government, the study identified some common themes preventing good people from applying and getting jobs in government. For more, click here.

Do any of the common themes identified in this article prevent good people from applying and getting in your agency or organization? Would using a user-centered, data-driven approach to hiring help your agency better hire the employees it needs to accomplish its mission? If you were CHCO, how would you apply the information in this article to your organization’s hiring policies?

Government Warms to Continuous Monitoring of Personnel with Clearances

Days after Navy contractor Aaron Alexis murdered 12 people during a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard on Sept. 16, 2013, Pentagon officials acknowledged they had neglected to follow up on a Rhode Island police report the previous month showing that Alexis, who died in a shootout with police, had complained of hearing voices. That turned out to be just one of many red flags in Alexis’ background that Navy officials and security clearance investigators were not aware of prior to the tragedy. Since then, officials have worked to significantly strengthen the way clearances are granted and managed. For more, click here.

What do you think about using of software programs to more thoroughly vet employees and contractors? What about continuously monitoring those who hold security clearances using social media? Are the such risks to privacy justified by the results?

Agencies Could Learn a Lot from Tennessee’s Shift to Pay for Performance

Federal agencies will certainly not be the first public employer to switch to pay for performance. The most recent may be Tennessee, and by all standards it’s demonstrated one of most successful transitions. The stat’s civil service reform efforts offer many lessons for the federal government. For more, click here.

What aspects of the Tennessee pay-for-performance plan do you think would work at your agency or organization? Which would not?

Proposed Regs for Administrative Leave Restrictions

With the signing of the Administrative Leave Act of 2016, enacted under section 1138 of the National Defense Authorization Act on December 24, 2016, Congress passed legislation restricting the use of administrative leave for federal employees.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has now proposed new regulations implementing the requirements of the Administrative Leave Act. Comments on the regulations are due before August 14, 2017.

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