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 It's Time for High-Performance Government: Winning Strategies to Engage and Energize the Public Sector Workforce (2016), with Bill Wilder.
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Winning and Losing the HR Game

February 13, 2019 My recent column, “Employees Should Be Managed as Valued Assets,” prompted a reader to suggest government should adopt the business practice and require agencies to disclose information related to their human capital management practices. She suggested creating Human Resources scoreboards where agency workforce metrics would be available to leaders and...

The GS System Fails in Today’s Labor Markets

February 5, 2019 The January jobs report highlights the contradiction between the government’s approach to managing salaries and the reality for other employers. On CNBC, prior to Friday’s report, experts were predicting the added jobs would be slightly over 200,000; instead the number was 304,000. Wage levels increased by 3.2 percent for the...

Employees Should Be Managed as Valued Assets

January 29, 2019 The shutdown made it obvious: Without its employees, there is no government. The pro football playoffs reinforce a lesson that has been highlighted repeatedly for more than three decades by research in the business world: The companies (as well as football teams) with the most talented, best managed employees are...

Last One Out, Turn Off the Lights

January 23, 2019 For years, academics and civil service watchers have been warning about the coming retirement wave of federal workers. It may very well be upon us: In fiscal 2018, there was a 24 percent surge in employees filing for retirement over the previous year. But to borrow an old phrase, “you...

Is the Federal Workforce Reaching Its Breaking Point?

December 18, 2018 Recently I had contact with a federal agency that by all evidence is experiencing what is commonly known as burnout across large segments of its workforce. Anecdotal evidence over the past several years suggests the agency’s situation is not unique. It’s very possible the level of burnout across government is...

One More Time: Are Federal Employees Underpaid or Overpaid?

November 12, 2018 The Federal Salary Council is scheduled to meet tomorrow to “review the results of pay comparisons and formulate its recommendations on pay comparison methods.” This follows comments in the 2017 report from the president’s Pay Agent about “major methodological concerns.” In the spring, the council reported the pay gap was...

What Really Ails the Federal Workforce

October 29, 2018 The September symposium on “finding what ails the federal workforce,” hosted by the Office of Management and Budget and Mitre Corp., was perhaps the first that brought together experts who work in separate spheres and hold very different perspectives on workforce problems. Far more common are meetings where specialists talk...

Breaking Through Government’s Time Warp

October 11, 2018 The August newsletter from the Merit Systems Protection Board recognized the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978: The statute was “the most significant [civil service] reform since the Pendleton Act, almost 100 years earlier.” It was enacted to “to improve efficiency, accountability and...

The Urgency of Strengthening and Redefining HR

October 3, 2018 The new report from the National Academy of Public Administration, “No Time To Wait, Part 2: Building a Public Service for the 21st Century,” reinforces the importance of rebuilding the federal workforce, the theme of my recent column, “The Skills Shortage and Federal Compensation.” The problem, as summarized in the...

The Skills Shortage and Federal Compensation

September 27, 2018 The cost of ignoring the workforce problems attributable to the General Schedule is very real and gets worse year after year. The GS system may well contribute to every government performance problem but the politics downplay its importance. Until it’s replaced, the problems will get progressively worse. This column was...