U.S., Canadian executives share concerns about performance pay

Patterns in the results of surveys of U.S. and Canadian government executives suggest that personnel systems linking pay to job performance may have universal flaws, executive association officials said Wednesday.

"It is critical to gain insight into how executives with two similar but different systems, in two different countries, could share the same experiences, and what that means for the future of such performance management systems," said Carol Bonosaro, president of the U.S. Senior Executives Association.

Both SEA and its Canadian counterpart, the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada, surveyed executives last year to gather their views on performance-based personnel systems.

Executives in both countries expressed support for the principles underlying the systems, but signaled concern about the lack of transparency and effective communication in implementing them. Both groups also voiced some dissatisfaction with pay components of the systems, and signaled that pay-for-performance has little effect on the quality of their work or innovation.

Eighty-six percent of respondents to the U.S. survey said performance-based systems and higher pay had no effect on their job performance, or that of their peers. In Canada, 74 percent of executives said performance management programs have made no difference in the quality of their work.

Fifty-six percent of SEA respondents said their level of motivation had not changed due to the implementation of a performance-based personnel system. In the Canadian survey, 61 percent of respondents said personal values and job satisfaction provided stronger incentives for quality work than pay-for-performance programs.

The United States launched a new personnel system for Senior Executive Service members in January 2004. The overhaul entailed more meticulous ratings of job performance and moved executives to broad pay bands, providing added flexibility to reward high-achieving executives. It also provided a higher overall pay cap.

The Bush administration instituted the system with the idea that it would serve as a basis for further legislation to extend pay-for-performance to rank-and-file federal employees.

Bonosaro said her organization supported the system at first, but "the survey results demonstrate that something has been lost in translation as [it] has been implemented."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.