3 Ideas for Dealing with Problem Employees

Three recent publications raised the issue of dealing with problem employees. The Office of Personnel Management released the results of the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, highlighting the perception among employees that their agencies do not do enough to deal with problem employees.  The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a report, Tables of Penalties: Examining Sexual Misconduct in the Federal Workplace and Lax Federal Responses, that addressed inconsistencies in and among agencies on dealing with problem employees, in general and specifically on the issue of sexual misconduct. The Merit System Protection Board released a study on performance management, Building Blocks for Effective Performance Managementthat focused on the relationship between the agency’s “Agency Performance Management Environment” and employee performance and the ability to deal with poor performers. The MSPB report made the news because of a singe sentence that said having a small number of employees removed for poor performance could be a good sign. That statement was not the point of the report.

The three reports addressed the government’s ability to deal with problem employees, but from different perspectives. The OPM FEVS report simply reported the data. In one of many questions, it showed that employees generally do not believe their agencies do enough to deal with problem employees. (For more, click here.)

Do you agree with the author’s 3 ideas? Which do you think would be most helpful at the agencies you have worked for?



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?

Closing the Federal Millennial Hiring Gap

After a boom, there doesn’t have to be a bust. Federal agencies have a real opportunity to increase the number of millennials in their workforce as more and more baby boomers retire.

When baby boomers—the largest generation of its time—entered the job market, their traditional roots landed them seamlessly in the federal workforce. But agencies have had a difficult time getting the now-larger-in-number millennials on board. Despite making up about one-third of the private sector labor force, the under-30 crowd represented only 7 percent of federal employees in 2015—the lowest that figure has been in nearly a decade.

It’s not for lack of open positions. By 2017, 31 percent of federal workers will be eligible to retire. Many of those jobs are in areas where millennials are comfortable. (For more, click here.)

How has your agency incorporated the three steps described in this article in their recruiting practices? If they have not, which do you think would be most essential to implement immediately?

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.

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?


Beyond Buyouts and RIFs: A More Effective Approach to Workforce Management

On April 12, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum requiring agencies to develop plans to reduce their workforces. This has led many agencies to search in their talent management toolkit for help.

The usual tools employed—reductions in force, Voluntary Early Retirement Authority/Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments, and managed attrition—are being dusted off. But federal executives can do themselves a favor by turning to two neglected talent management tools: data analytics and mobility programs. When combined together, they can help agencies manage workforce reductions in the most effective way.

I say this from experience… (For more, click here.)

Do you agree with the author’s contention that data analytics and mobility programs will do more than RIF, VERA, and VSIP to help agencies develop workforce plans? How  does your agency use analytics to in their HR strategy and planning processes?

Lawmaker Seeks Locality Pay Parity Between Blue and White Collar Feds

Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., introduced a bill last week that would seek parity between how salaried and hourly federal employees are paid depending on where they live. The Locality Pay Equity Act (H.R. 4039) would direct the Office of Personnel Management to adopt a unified map for determining locality pay for both blue and white collar federal workers. In effect, OPM would apply the current locality pay boundaries used for General Schedule employees to hourly workers.

Stephen Coffey, a legislative staffer for Cartwright, said that currently, while salaried feds are compensated more if they live in or near cities, hourly workers are compensated based on an outdated system with smaller boundaries for cities and based in part on major military installations. “Essentially, white collar locality boundaries are drawn based on metropolitan markets, but blue collar boundaries are drawn according to arcane military installation placements from the 1950s,” he said.

In some parts of the United States, a General Schedule fed and a colleague who is paid hourly… (for more, click here.)

Do you think Representative Cartwright’s bill would solve a problem for the federal government’s blue-collar workers? Do you think that the system should be left unchanged or are there other changes that would help agencies better recruit for these jobs?