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Can agencies reward workers without money?

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A recent FCW article detailing the findings and recommendations of a report on performance-based advancement in the federal government struck a nerve among several commenters. One wrote that, The suggestions regarding upper management pats on the back are laughable. Another asked, As my generation retires, how are we going to recruit good people to do the public's work when the pay is lacking and the working conditions poor?

Adam Mazmanian responds: The intent of the report from the Partnership for Public Service was to make suggestions for managers that are possible under current budgetary constraints."There are lots of things that can be done that do not require money," Max Stier, CEO of the Partnership, told me in an interview. While "pats on the back" may seem facile, as the commenter suggests, there is some logic to asking managers to get to know their employees better, and tailoring non-monetary awards and career path advice to fit the needs and expectations of individual employees.

Stier is clearly sympathetic to workers who, in addition to furloughs and pay freezes, are pessimistic that their work will be recognized with promotion and rewards. He said he was "horrified" by the low levels of morale indicated by his report, and he blasted the Obama administration for their decision not to pay out bonuses under the Presidential Rank Awards, which go to members of the Senior Executive Service. "It was a massive mistake,"Stier said, and one driven by "political optics." More generally, Stier advocates bringing federal pay in line with private sector pay as part of a larger revamp of the civil service compensation system.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Jun 28, 2013 at 2:54 PM


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Reader comments

Mon, Jul 15, 2013

All I can say with out the little people to do the work, then the Big people will have no one to do it for them and they will fall, so beware of what you wish for cause that day might come.

Mon, Jul 1, 2013

I totally agree that our government system need a total revamping. Starting first implementing a system without lobbyists.

Mon, Jul 1, 2013

Stier is clearly NOT sympathetic to workers getting furloughs and pay freezes if he thinks members of the Senior Executive Service should be getting bonuses. I have been working for nearly 13 years in a Fed organization that has been constantly recognized as one of the best of its kind and yet the total of all of the bonuses I have recieved here in that time is significantly less than the average SES person gets in bonuses each year. In all of that time here I have yet to see a positive contribution to my organization's mission by an SES individual. Now, with the furloughs and pay freezes in place, he thinks it okay to take that money I would have otherwise recieved and hand it out to the SES in bonuses. Obviously his head is so far in the clouds that he cannot see the workers struggling on the ground to physically perform the missions of the Government who are told to sacrifice their pay so the SES can continue to get their monsterous bonuses.

Mon, Jul 1, 2013

Why should workers be rewarded at all? They should be grateful that we let them work at all. They just are not that important, they are not God's Chosen Leaders.

Mon, Jul 1, 2013

You know I do not want a pat on the back or a bonus, just give me my regular pay increases for cost of living and my regular evaluation increase which is not much but better then the nothing we are getting right now. Sad but until we and I mean all Americans vote this idiots out of office and change all this rules they have made to give them self a cushy life we will continue to suffer like we are right now. It does not matter what party they are from they all need to be voted out, so we can hopefully start on a better foot. Next time you vote think about that.

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