Federal Workers Slam Workplace Rewards System

May 20, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Almost three-quarters of federal workers are dissatisfied with how their mangers deal with low-performing colleagues and less than half say their agency properly recognizes high achievers, a federal workforce survey revealed.

The Federal Human Capital Survey , a poll of 147,914 workers conducted by the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), also found that only 42% of employees said awards are tied to worker performance, while only about a third said promotions are based on merit, the Washington Post reported.

Doris Hausser, a senior adviser at the OPM, said the survey findings reflect a civil service system that is “anemic” with respect to rewarding good workers and “cumbersome” when it comes to disciplining or motivating bad ones. “Our system, particularly in the reward area, tends to be very flat – the same thing happens to everybody, no matter what,” Hausser told reporters, according to the Post.

Some of the survey findings illustrate the challenges of moving to personnel systems that place more emphasis on managers’ ability to conduct meaningful performance evaluations, fairly administer discipline and establish a climate of productivity. For instance, the survey found that only 37% of federal workers think their agency leaders are good at motivating the workforce. Fewer than half say bosses maintain high standards of honesty and integrity.

OPM officials and union leaders alike noted that the survey showed that federal workers are committed to their jobs, with 91% saying they do important work and 83% saying they like what they do. Majorities of workers also say they are satisfied with their benefits and pay.

The poll was conducted from August through December last year.

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