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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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Is Pay for Performance as Bad As the Critics Contend?

April 2, 2019 A recent column, “If Performance Governs Pay, More Workers Take Antidepressants” reminded me why I stayed out of the academic world. Its author took a 43-page article from a research journal (that ended with a five-page listing of previously published books and articles and 16 pages of statistics and graphs)...

Is Pay for Performance as Bad As the Critics Contend?

April 2, 2019 A recent column, “If Performance Governs Pay, More Workers Take Antidepressants” reminded me why I stayed out of the academic world. Its author took a 43-page article from a research journal (that ended with a five-page listing of previously published books and articles and 16 pages of statistics and graphs)...

The High Cost of Undervaluing Older Talent

March 20, 2019 With the focus on the problems recruiting and retaining talented young people, especially in high demand fields, it sometimes seems as if government has forgotten its older workers. But that would be a serious and costly mistake. Across the federal government, 44 percent—almost a million workers—are age 50 or older....

The High Cost of Undervaluing Older Talent

March 19, 2019 With the focus on the problems recruiting and retaining talented young people, especially in high demand fields, it sometimes seems as if government has forgotten its older workers. But that would be a serious and costly mistake. Across the federal government, 44 percent – almost a million workers -- are...

Pay for Performance is the Only Choice

March 6, 2019 Government is approaching a Hobson’s choice. The General Schedule salary system is an anachronism. The Pay Agent has now twice questioned the methodology used to adjust the ranges. It may be that no one today believes the annual pay gap estimate. The Office of Personnel Management gave up trying to...

How the GS System Fails Federal Workers and Everyone Else

February 26, 2019 The Yankees’ Yogi Berra was right: “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” In December 2017, the government’s Pay Agent—the entity composed of the Labor secretary, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget and the director of the Office of Personnel Management—reported “major methodological concerns” that...

Federal Executive Pay is Inadequate

February 21, 2019 A recent story in USA Today, “Vice President Pence's pay bump is not as big as Republicans wanted,” illustrates a problem at the core of government’s staffing problems. For employees paid under the General Schedule, the new 1.9 percent increase—when combined with an average 1.4 percent step increase—is consistent with...

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...