Survey: Managers anticipate pay boosts in spite of freeze

A significant percentage of federal managers expect their salaries to increase during the next two years despite a proposed pay freeze, and few are making plans to retire quickly or seek other jobs, according to a new survey from the Government Business Council.

President Obama on Nov. 29 proposed a pay freeze in 2011 and 2012 that would apply to all civilian workers, including Defense Department employees, but not to military personnel. House lawmakers on Dec. 8 passed a spending bill with that provision, while the Senate is working on its own version of the legislation.

Workers still will be eligible for certain increases despite the across-the-board freeze. Of the more than 1,500 federal executives surveyed by GBC, the research arm of Government Executive, 38 percent said it is somewhat or very likely they will receive a pay boost in the next two years through promotions, quality step increases or within-grade increases. Nearly 60 percent of Senior Executive Service respondents consider a pay increase very unlikely, however, compared to 48 percent of GS-12 and GS-13 employees.

Observers have expressed concern that a pay freeze could set off a retirement wave, robbing agencies of seasoned talent. Federal managers themselves foresee the same trend -- nearly half of those surveyed believed their co-workers would be more likely to retire if a pay freeze takes effect. Of the respondents eligible for retirement, however, only a third said the freeze would speed their exit from government, and nearly 20 percent said they would likely work longer than planned.

Some managers ready for retirement said their high-three salary, used to calculate annuity benefits, would be lower than expected due to the pay freeze, giving them little incentive to continue working in government. A few respondents said they planned to see how long the freeze would last before making any decisions, while many others said additional measures, such as changes to cost-of-living adjustments or a switch from high-three to high-five, would have a greater impact on their retirement date.

"If this gets coupled with any other attack on federal employees (i.e. switching to a high-five calculation for retirement, additional costs for health insurance, etc.), I will be looking at the next 'best date to retire,'" one manager wrote.

Sixty-two percent of respondents not eligible to retire said a pay freeze would have no impact on their consideration to leave government service, while a third said they would be more likely to seek a job in the private sector. Many federal managers said job security, proximity to retirement and years of investment in civil service would keep them in government.

Nearly one-third (31 percent) of managers surveyed said they somewhat or strongly agreed that a pay freeze is necessary, while 23 percent considered the measure fair. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said a pay freeze would decrease employee morale in their agency.

"The pay freeze is driving morale down," said one manager. "[The] government will lose the ones who have options. Those will be the high performers."

To stay updated with the latest federal pay and benefits information, sign up for our e-newsletter.
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

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

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

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