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?

I Do Solemnly Swear That I Will…

People in the private sector do not take an oath of office when they get a job. They get an offer, report to work, and that’s it.

For federal employees it is different. Reading so many articles about the inauguration that refer to the president-elect taking the oath of office on the 20th of January got me thinking about oaths and what they mean.

I have taken that oath of office as a civil service employee. Raising your right hand and swearing to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” is not something most people take lightly. It is a solemn oath and it means something to most people who take it.

The president becomes a federal employee by taking an oath prescribed by Article 2, Section 1, of the US Constitution. It says “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

 Judges, members of the House and Senate, political appointees, the military, and other federal employees take oaths of office that are required by Article VI of the Constitution, which says “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” The Constitution does not prescribe the actual text of the Article VI oaths. For federal civil service employees, the oath is set forth by law in 5 U.S. Code § 3331, which reads as follows:
 “An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: “I, ___, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.””

The oath is relatively straightforward, but what does it mean? (For more, click here.)

Did any of the information in this article surprise you? Did it make you think any differently about your oath of office?

 

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.

The Case for Evidence in Government

Although the U.S. government presides over what collectively must be one of the world’s largest data repositories, its capacity to use that data to build citizen trust and make informed, evidence-based decisions is severely constrained. As explained in an enlightening report recently issued by the bipartisan Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP), the mere existence of data is a necessary but not sufficient condition for creating empirical evidence to inform decisions throughout the full lifecycle of public programs—enactment, funding, operation, reform, termination.

The digitization of many facets of various activities the government funds through its $4 trillion annual budget has resulted in a data explosion at federal agencies. (For more, click here.)

How have you seen your organization move to an increased use of data to make decisions?

 

No Time to Wait: Building a Public Service for the 21st Century

In case after case, ranging from ensuring cyber safety to protecting the nation’s borders, the federal government faces profound problems in making government work for the American people. And in case after case, these problems share a common root cause: the federal government’s human capital system is fundamentally broken. The more complex and wicked problems become, the more government needs smart leaders with the skills to solve them. But the current system, too often, has become trapped in processes that keep leaders from leading.

There is no time to wait. The nation’s problems are too urgent. We need to build a human capital system that meeds the needs of the nation’s 21st century government and we need to start now.

What the federal government most needs, we believe, is… (For more, click here.)

Do you agree with the authors of this report? Which area do you believe most attention? Do you have other human capital ideas that would help your organization solve the problems facing them as they try to accomplish their mission?

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?

The Performance Revolution Government Needs

In a recent column, Terry Gerton, President of the National Academy of Public Administration, noted that government will not be able to solve many problems until the civil service system is reformed. NAPA’s new white paper, “No Time to Wait:  Building a Public Service for the 21st Century,” spells out the need clearly.

I have made the same argument many times in this publication, although my background is very different from that of Gerton’s or the report’s authors. I have never worked in government. The qualification that’s relevant here is the realization that people who look forward to going to work in the morning are lucky.  I’ve known too many government employees who are frustrated and angry about their experience at work.

But several comments added at the end of the column raise an important issue. (For more, click here.)

Do you agree or disagree with the author’s premise that there is a need for a “revolution”? Why or why not?

 

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?