Beware Attempting to Fix a Difficult Employee

New(er) managers often step all over this issue of fixing people. I know I did. Twice. Both situations ended in disasters. The lesson: it’s never your job to fix a difficult employee.

It turns out that regardless of your great intentions, powers of moral suasion, and investment in time, sweat, and tears, you cannot fix a person. The individual in question has to want to change. You can set the stage and provide the opportunities, but you have a lot less influence on this situation than you might think. (For more, click here.)

Do you agree with what the author says he should have done in the case he describes? Do you agree with his statement that “You are not in the business of fixing people. You are accountable for driving results.”?

How to Bridge the Generation Gap

If there is one common challenge facing public sector organizations today, it’s this: A growing crisis in staffing levels due to accelerating retirement rates and continued tight budgets.

Two statistics show the significance of these factors:

  • As of mid-2014, there were 500,000 fewer local government employees nationwide than in 2008.
  • In some state agencies, it is estimated that more than 40 percent of the workforce will be eligible for retirement by 2017.

With 8,000 baby boomers retiring each day, managing a multigenerational workplace is becoming even more crucial for government agencies. But while businesses, schools and health care organizations have made progress attracting younger employees, governments are falling behind. Less than 6 percent of college graduates surveyed in 2014 report interest in federal, state or local service compared with 37 percent for private industry and 20 percent for health care.

Millennials (born from 1981-1997) have some distinct differences from other generations. Millennials grew up in the information age with constant connection to social media. They are highly social and impatient, always looking for entertainment, connectivity and technology. To this group, experience is priceless. They are used to … (For more, click here.)

How have you seen the  “immediate things government agencies can do to attract millennial worker” implemented in your agency’s staffing plans? Which of the practices discussed in “bridging the gap with technology” do you think could be applied to your human capital strategies to improve your candidate pools and employee retention?

Why Millennials Spurn Government Jobs

Phillip Sheridan, a 34-year-old government technology contractor, believes his federal security clearance raises his earning power in the Washington metropolitan area by $30,000. “But it makes you insecure because you think you don’t have skills to compete in Silicon Valley,” he said. In his heart of hearts, he “wants to be around people who’re excited about their job every day and absorb that energy from them.”

In government, Sheridan added, the only place you get that excitement is at “the tip of spear,” such as serving in other countries or helping agency cyber-teams fend off hackers. Plus, “government undertrains its employees, and contractors [are] even worse because their companies don’t have extra funds for training,” he said.

Not being able to travel to cybersecurity industry conferences like his private-sector counterparts is a burden because they’re “mandatory for career advancement,” Sheridan told Government Executive. “You have to be able to learn what’s going on in the world.”

The obstacles agency recruiters face in attracting the digitally-absorbed millennial generation (generally considered to be the 18-34 cohort) are by now a well-discussed litany of stereotypes: … (For more, click here.)

Do you agree with the observations discussed in this article? Has your agency implemented the approaches described by OPM officials? What other ideas do you have for recruiting millennials for your agency’s vacant positions?

What Employees Value More than Salary, According to Glassdoor

Salary is important, but it’s not the only thing that contributes to job satisfaction. New research from Glassdoor reveals what makes people happiest at their jobs and how it varies depending on income.

Glassdoor wanted to see how employee values change as their income changes. What workplace factors do employees workers value overall, and how does it change with salary increases? To answer this, Glassdoor looked at their own data: salary reports and company reviews from over 600,000 users. They looked at six different factors: culture & values, senior leadership, career opportunities, business outlook, work-life balance and compensation & benefits.

They used the “Shapley Value” analysis method to see how various factors change the overall outlook. They explain: (For more, click here.)

How does your job satisfaction track with the six workplace factors described in this article? How could this data be applied to deal with employee retention and turnover at your organization?

Tweets, Politics, and a Career as a Federal Employee

It’s a brave new world for federal employees and politicians. Before social media opened up the world to anyone with a computer, an internet connection and a political opinion, opinions were more often personal beliefs shared with a few friends and colleagues.

 Not that long ago, a federal employee telling a colleague over lunch he thinks the new president for whom he works is a facist would not create a problem. Who knows or cares what the employee thinks as long as he does a good job at work? The agency head or the White House would not know or care what a General Schedule employee working in a federal agency thinks about the president.

A federal employee sending out a tweet to thousands of people telling everyone he thinks the new president for whom he works is a facist is different. Welcome to federal employment in 2017.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a talent for making news. In the last couple of years, the issue was patient care, or the lack of it, in some VA facilities. The publicity led to legislation in Congress, appeals to the Merit Systems Protection Board, and some VA employees finding their photos in newspapers with unflattering articles.

 More recently, union activity at the VA has been an issue. It also led to bills being introduced to reduce the amount of official time being used by union officials at the same time patient care was being called into question in the national press.
 Tweeting by VA Employees

New publicity is now emerging on a different topic. The VA may be taking center stage again.

 How much criticism can a federal employee level at a president or an administration and still be retained as a federal employee? (For more, click here.)
What in this article made you “weigh [the] potential consequences against the satisfaction of expressing those opinions”? What will you think twice about the next time you open Twitter, Facebook, or another social media platform?

How Much Does Employee Turnover Really Cost?

People are companies’ most important assets. We’ve all known this for a long time, but 1) we pay it lip service more often than we try to do something about it, and 2) it’s true more now than ever.

The rise of technology and the information age has resulted in more companies that compete based primarily on their people. This isn’t only true for technology companies like Facebook and Google; as software continues to eat the world and the pace of business increases, nearly all companies will live and die by their continual ability to innovate.

Despite the fact that most organizations know that their long term advantage resides in their people, most companies don’t think critically about how to increase employee retention.

In this post, I’ll argue that the core reason people don’t think about employee retention seriously enough is because they don’t know how to measure the impact. I’ll then share some frameworks for how you might associate dollar values with regrettable turnover, and once I’ve (hopefully) convinced you that this matters, give you some actionable ideas for improving the state of affairs. (For more, click here.)

Use the spreadsheet provided in the blog post to get a sense of what the costs look like for your organization. Then think through how you could apply the growth, impact, and care factors the author describes to those turnover issues. Describe for us what you think the impact would be on your organization.

When No One Speaks the Truth at Work, You Face a Choice

I would be shocked if you couldn’t recall being in a meeting where someone in a position of authority uttered something so fantastically full of crap that you thought you might choke. I would be even more shocked if the general response of the individuals present in the meeting wasn’t aerobic head nodding. In general, people struggle to speak truth to power.

Accountability Without Authority

A client of mine described a situation where the overseas leader rolled out his latest mandate for safety. Henceforth, the safety manager at each location is to be responsible for all accidents. If there is an accident, the safety manager is to blame. My client asked about the authority and autonomy for the position. After a lot of double-talk, it turned out there was no … (For more, click here.)

Have you ever experienced this? How did it impact your organization’ s ability to accomplish its mission and your ability to successfully do your job?

Want to Improve Government Customer Experience? Focus on Employee Morale

Federal efforts to improve agency interactions with citizens will fall short unless employees are fully invested in the process, understand the goals, have a say in how to make improvements and are rewarded for their work.

Recent studies of the private sector have found that employee engagement goes hand in hand with the quality of customer experience they provide. Federal leaders should focus on this connection, considering the government lags well behind the private sector on employee engagement, according to the Partnership for Public Service’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government analysis. This gap is making it harder for government to meet the rising expectations of citizens for fast, simple, user-friendly interactions.

In the public sector, research conducted by the National Center for Organization Development within the Department of Veterans Affairs found that… (For more, click here.)

Do you agree that the strategies listed in this article can lead to improved employee morale and citizen satisfaction? Which have you seen at your agency? Which do you wish you would see at your agency?

How HR Can Promote Flexibility in Blue-Collar Jobs

Working-class employees need work/life balance, too. And HR can help give it to them—while boosting the organization’s competitive edge.

When Rachael Sobon, SHRM-CP, started her job as the first HR professional at CRP Industries 10 years ago, she quickly saw room for improvement. Sobon understood that the daily deadlines of a bustling warehouse required many of the Cranbury, N.J.-based company’s 180 workers to be onsite at certain hours. However, she also believed that some policies at CRP, a third-generation family business that distributes after-market auto parts, were too rigid for the company’s own good.

“We had a lot of attendance issues,” Sobon recalls. Because there was no provision for taking just an hour or two off at a time, employees would often take a sick day to run errands or go to routine appointments. Many would use up their time off by summer, so when the holidays rolled around, they took leave without pay. “That hurts the business when we can’t schedule out the manpower,” Sobon says.

Decades-old policies intended to ensure proper staffing levels were backfiring, Sobon says. So, with support of the company’s president, she introduced a paid-time-off policy that allows employees to take accrued leave in half-hour increments. “Whether they’re sick or going to a school play or the cable person is coming—it just gives them flexibility so they’re not stuck in a situation where they have to pretend they’re ill or make up a story,” she explains. (For more, click here.)

This article primarily addresses the private sector. Which of the ideas expressed in this article could be applied to the federal sector? Which are not an issue or have already been addressed?


GAO Finds Phased Retirement Can Benefit Employees, Management

Although the number of federal workers enrolled in the government’s phased retirement program remains minuscule, analysts say it could be a valuable tool for agencies to preserve institutional knowledge and plan for the future.

As of Tuesday, 259 federal employees had applied for phased retirement, according to the Office of Personnel Management. This represents a significant increase over the 90 feds who had applied as of August 2016. An additional 82 people have applied for the program and are now retired.

Still, the numbers are below the Congressional Budget Office’s 2012 projections on enrollment, … (For more, click here.)

Has your agency offered phased retirement to its employees? Do you think this program could help your agency accomplish its mission? How?