How Do Federal Employees Feel About Their Pay and Jobs?

The Office of Personnel Management has released the government-wide results of the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey which provide a look at federal employees’ overall satisfaction with their jobs, pay, and agency management.


The results indicate that overall, federal employees are more satisfied with their pay when compared to past years. In response to the question, “Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your pay?” the response rate was 63% positive. Last year, it was 61% positive and was only 56% positive in 2014.

Highest and Lowest Ratings

Other high marks were given to questions regarding overall job satisfaction. For instance, federal employees said “When needed I am willing to put in the extra effort to get a job done” (96%), “I am constantly looking for ways to do my job better” (91%), and “The work I do is important” (90%).

Lower ratings were given around areas regarding management related issues such as dealing with poor performers and merit based promotions. [For the rest of this article, click here.]

In your experience, are the results of the survey typical of your agency? Did anything surprise you?


Post and Pursue: Improving Federal Hiring Using Data and Targeted Recruitment

In this time of tight budgets and the Trump administration’s call for workforce reductions, it is more critical than ever for agencies to fill vacancies with the most highly skilled and qualified individuals available. However, the cumbersome federal hiring process can be a deterrent for agencies attempting to bring top talent into public service.

In an annual federal survey, a large number of employees responded that government is falling short when it comes to recruiting the best people. Only 41 percent of federal employees said their agencies and work units were recruiting individuals with the right skills, according to the 2016 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings compiled by the Partnership for Public Service.

The Partnership and LinkedIn set out to understand how agencies can overcome the hiring barriers through the use of data analysis and targeting–also known as data-driven recruitment—to recruit talent more effectively.

Through interviews and workshops with agency human resources staff and human capital managers, we identified three key elements for improving hiring: using data to find talent; encouraging collaboration between hiring managers and human resources staff; and relying on special hiring authorities. [For the rest of this report, click here.]

What of the data provided by this report most surprised you? How would you use the data in this report (or similar data for your organization) to improve hiring at your agency?

HR–The $5 Billion Question

A recent Government Accountability Office report on Department of Defense (DOD) efforts to reduce overhead costs highlights the difficulty in achieving savings in administrative services. DOD was tasked by Congress to reduce overhead costs by $10 billion per year.

Human Resources Costs

HR is one of those overhead services that can consume a surprising amount of money. In DOD or any agency, the cost of operating HR offices is a significant line item.

How significant? Let’s take a look at only those jobs that are in the two primary HR job series (GS-201 for HR Specialists and GS-203 for HR Clerks and Assistants).

At the end of March (the most recent available data) the federal government had 29,830 GS-201s, with an average salary of $90,648. There were 10,168 GS-203s, with an average salary of $46,135. Without fringe benefits, the GS-201s cost $2.7 billion per year and GS-203s cost $469 million. Add 30 percent for fringe benefits (health and life insurance, retirement, etc.) and those costs go up to $3.5 billion and $610 million (a total of $4.1 billion).

We know that not every person in HR is a GS-201 or GS-203, so the actual cost for HR office labor is actually more than $4.1 billion. A reasonable estimate of non-HR series labor costs in HR is about 10 percent, so if we add another $400 million to cover those folks, we have total HR labor costs of about $4.5 billion per year.

These numbers do not include other costs of running HR, such as technology, contracts, office space, and other overhead costs. Most people use 80 percent as the amount of a typical budget that is direct labor, and 20 percent for those other costs. If we add that into our HR cost calculation, … [For the rest of this article, click here.]

Do you agree with the points made in this article? Why or why not? Do you agree with its conclusion?

The Urgency of Strengthening and Redefining HR

“Over time, the alignment between the government’s mission, strategy, and tactics on one hand, and the capacity of its workforce on the other, has fallen further out of sync. The result has been an accumulating series of program failures that have grown into a genuine national crisis.”

To call it a national crisis is not hyperbole. Human capital management leads the 2017 list of GAO’s high-risk areas and workforce management is integral to each of the areas on the list. GAO’s focus was limited to the skills gap. In its report, GAO concluded, “OPM and agencies have not yet demonstrated sustainable progress in closing skills gaps.” It’s been on the high-risk list for 16 years.

The skills gap needs to be seen as the tip of the iceberg. Skills alone cannot produce improved performance. The Office of Personnel Management describes the problem … [For the rest of this article, click here.]

Many Don’t See Women As Leaders At Work

Despite progress toward greater gender equality, on average, men are still more likely than women to emerge as leaders, according to a new study.

Researchers aggregated 59 years of research, encompassing more than 19,000 participants and 136 studies from lab, business, and classroom settings. They discovered that while the gender gap has narrowed in recent decades, it still persists. Today, for example, women hold just 26 percent of executive-level positions in S&P 500 companies.

“As a society, we’ve made progress toward gender equality, but clearly we’re not quite there,” says Katie Badura, a doctoral student at the University at Buffalo School of Management. “Our results are consistent with the struggle many organizations face today to increase diversity in their leadership teams.”

The researchers primarily attribute the gender gap to … [For the rest of the article, click here.]

Do you agree with the conclusions of this article? What other recommendations might you have to help the gender gap discussed here?

When Hiring a Particular Candidate Might Constitute a Prohibited Personnel Practice

Perhaps over the past several months, hiring officials have contemplated how they would advertise a vacancy on USAJOBS and may even have a particular candidate in mind whom they believe would be “perfect for the job.”

This article discusses an area of law not widely known to federal managers—specifically, the prohibited personnel practice that can result from defining the scope or manner of competition or requirements for a particular position in a way that favors certain candidates, or disfavors others.

Picture this scenario: an agency hired an employee for a four (4)-year term position to fill a critical need for a linguist in a remote area. That employee was not veteran’s preference-eligible, but at the time he competed for the term position was the best qualified linguist among all non-preference eligible applicants and, therefore, got the job.

The agency’s linguist requirement continued longer than expected, so the agency received… [For the rest of the article, click here.]

Before reading the article, would you have considered the linguist scenario to have constituted a prohibited personnel practice? Did your opinion change after reading the article?

Data: Public Servants Are Older Than Almost Everyone in the American Workforce

As many of our readers have complained, the stereotypes of civil servants run the gamut from “slow” to “lazy” to, increasingly, “old.” Unfortunately, that third stereotype seems to be rooted in truth.

According to an analysis by data scientist and blogger Randal Olson, the oldest profession in the U.S. workforce is funeral home employee and the youngest is shoe salesperson. Olson looked at 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics data and found that the average age of someone working in shoe sales is 25.6 years old and the average age of a funeral home worker is 53.1.

What does this have to do with the government workforce getting older? Public servants’ median age (45.6) is closer to the embalming and casket industry than it is to the boot and sandal industry and public finance employees have the eighth-oldest median age of all workers in the labor force.

With the caveat that BLS doesn’t break down public administration into state, local and federal, the statistics show that no category of public administration job notches a median age younger than 42.6 (“Justice, public order, and safety activities”). In addition to quinquagenarian public finance employees, “administration of economic programs and space research” workers have a median age of 48.8.  [For the rest of this article, click here.]

How do you think your agency measures up as related to age of federal workers? Does your agency have programs in place to recruit and hire younger workers? What are the advantages/disadvantages of a workforce of older workers?

How Guilt Can Hold Back Good Employees

People with a tendency to feel guilty for disappointing their coworkers are among the most ethical and hard-working people to work with. However, these highly guilt-prone people may be the most reticent to enter into partnerships.

By understanding this phenomenon, managers can make the best decisions about team-building and increase productivity. (For more, click here.)

As a supervisor, how can you use the research discussed in this article to create effective workplace dynamics and increase productivity? As an employee, how can you put to use this research in your work life?

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?