AUTHOR ARCHIVES

Howard Risher

Workforce Management Consultant Howard Risher is a consultant focusing on pay and performance. In 1990, he managed the project that led to the passage of the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act and the transition to locality pay. Howard has worked with a variety of federal and state agencies, the United Nations and OECD. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Penn State and an MBA and Ph.D. in business from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is the co-author of the new book Primer on Total Compensation in Government (2016), with Adam J. Reese.
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If Employees Aren't Engaged, Leaders Need to Take a Hard Look at Their Own Actions

June 21, 2016 The 2016 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey is now history. I am working with a group associated with a federal organization that recently reported the results of a similar survey conducted by Gallup. There are differences in the surveys, but both focus on employee engagement. A key difference (and I have...

The Real Problem With Inflated Performance Evaluations

June 13, 2016 It’s not as if we needed a reminder, but the Government Accountability Office has again confirmed in a June 9 report that performance ratings are badly inflated. That’s old news of course. It was first reported last Thursday by Government Executive and then today by the Washington Post. It’s not...

Federal Salaries Will Continue to Fall Behind Market Pay Rates

June 1, 2016 Recent research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco highlights why the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index currently understates the pay increases government should be granting to attract and retain talent. This is getting into the weeds but the pay gap is going to get progressively wider...

More Executives Aren't Going to Solve Government’s Performance Problem

May 25, 2016 A bill now working through Congress, The Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act (S. 1550), would require agencies to designate staff responsible for bolstering and documenting performance of this vital bureaucratic function. It will no doubt benefit government but the idea that it is even necessary should be a reason...

Research Confirms It: Good Managers Make a Difference

May 4, 2016 A brief column in mid-April on Harvard Business Review’s The Daily Alert website, “Proof That Good Managers Really Do Make a Difference,” triggered widespread attention. The subject of the column is research confirming that organizations in very different sectors and countries all perform better when they have effective managers. By...

Government’s Catch-22 People Problem

April 27, 2016 The skills gap is not new. Moreover, recent stories about staffing problems at Customs and Border Protection and the Bureau of Prisons show the issue is not limited to a short list of high risk mission-critical occupations. The latest example is the Secret Service. Central to the problem across the...

Once Again, the GS System Is Failing Government

April 12, 2016 Government Executive’s April 4 story “How Poor Pay and Bad Planning Led to Diminished Medical Care for Federal Prisoners” discussed a problem that rarely warrants a headline but its impact goes well beyond the Bureau of Prisons. The article pointed out ongoing problems BOP is experiencing in recruiting essential medical...

Why Federal Bonus Awards Are a Problem

March 22, 2016 Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, may not appreciate it fully but his interest in bonuses could open the Pandora’s box of workforce management. The awards may be suspect but are only the result of underlying management weaknesses. Hopefully his intention is not to end future awards. The practice is almost universal...

Government’s IT Problem is Not Limited to Systems

February 17, 2016 Two recent headlines caught my attention. One, in FCW, reported that “Obama bemoans obsolete tech in budget request.” The second, in Federal Times, reported, “Budget projects ‘largest relative pay cut’ for feds.” While FCW quoted a comment by President Obama about the “400 people in the Social Security Administration whose...

Improving Engagement Scores Is the Wrong Goal

November 4, 2015 In December 2014, the Office of Management and Budget sent a 13-page memo to agency heads, “Strengthening Employee Engagement and Organizational Performance.” The purpose was to confirm the importance of the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and the index adopted as a measure of engagement. The memo requires Senior Executive Service...

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