Keeping employees during the federal ice age
Federal managers are facing what some have called the "ice age," the era of pay and hiring freezes that could have a significant effect on the government workforce.
Like many federal managers, I was in Washington during the last "ice age" and its affects were detrimental. Another hiring freeze would likely leave critical positions unfilled, result in increased staff workload, create a loss of institutional knowledge and make it more difficult to accomplish agency missions.
Keeping your skilled and experienced employees on the job will be more important than ever.
Last week my organization, the Partnership for Public Service, released a report with Booz Allen Hamilton focusing on short-term steps that you can take to keep your best employees motivated and on the job, and longer-term policies that you should consider to create a stable and productive workforce.
In the broad sense, managers must focus on creating a healthy work environment to retain top performers. This includes creating good relationships between supervisors and their staffs and a sense of teamwork; having a strong agency mission and employee skill matches; providing for employee development and support; and creating a strong performance management culture combined with a good work/life balance.
Each aspect is important, but the different elements collectively can create enhanced employee satisfaction, better engagement and longevity on the job for those that you want to keep.
Here are some suggestions that you may want to consider to help keep your high-quality employees on board, and there are dozens more in the report:
Recognize achievement. Strengthen performance appraisals, recognizing accomplishments and providing meaningful feedback to employees. When possible, provide performance-based awards, emphasize individual development plans to encourage and support employee growth, and offer leadership training to the promising employees.
Provide incentives. If feasible, offer retention bonuses to valued employees who have job offers and are considering leaving. But before your employees even think of leaving, consider using flexible work arrangements such as telework, customized schedules and hoteling to create a positive work climate. And don't forget to make use of the federal student loan repayment program and tuition reimbursement for job-relevant training to help retain younger employees.
Conduct "stay" interviews. Solicit current employees' opinions about what they want out of their jobs and what is missing. The most effective interviews are conducted one on one between a senior leader and the employee. It is important that these interviews are kept confidential and that they result in action.
Strengthen lines of sight between the mission and the employees. Smart agency leaders keep employees aware of and focused on the importance of what they do and how it relates to the agency's mission. Clear measures of success and progress toward meeting goals helps keep employees up-to-date on the impact of what they do.
Federal leaders, how are you retaining your high-performing employees? What suggestions do you have for keeping them on board? If you're interested in learning more about our research, please visit ourpublicservice.org.
Also, please share your ideas by posting a comment online or sending an email to email@example.com. And check back on Wednesday, when I speak with the commissioner of Internal Revenue, Douglas H. Shulman. You can also receive a reminder by following us on Twitter @RPublicService.
Government leaders, nominate your outstanding federal employees for the tenth annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal (Sammies)! Considered the "Oscars of Washington," the Sammies are the most prestigious awards honoring our nation's public servants. Nominations are accepted at servicetoamericamedals.org through January 31, 2011.
January 24, 2011; 8:35 AM ET |
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