The federal performance cycle relies on routine appraisals and employee feedback, but due to several shortcomings, current systems are often cumbersome for HR specialists. Paper-based processing, a lack of clear communication with agency stakeholders, and the need to manually repeat key tasks create a series of problems.
A federal agency faces several issues due to out-of-date systems that are not designed for the federal performance review process. Let’s look at four of those problems and how they can be addressed.
Lost Time and Money
In a federal agency with thousands of employees across dozens of locations, manual performance management processes can be excessively time-consuming. Hundreds of hours per year are spent filling out, organizing, and managing paperwork that could be better managed by a web-based system with built-in workflows.
Digital forms and workflows offer potential efficiency savings of up to 70% for some federal HR processes, while providing a better platform for meeting requirements, reminders and notifications, and performance discussions between annual reviews.
Reduced Employee Engagement
Across all of government, engagement in the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) was just 68%. In a Best Places to Work study that compares private and public sector engagement, they scored federal employee engagement at just 62.2% compared to a private sector average of 77.1%. This is a recurring problem influenced by a large number of factors, but the right performance management tools can have a positive impact.
By integrating with employee and labor relations systems and employee portals that provide resources, training, and benefits information, agencies can provide greater transparency and support to employees throughout the year. A goal and objective-oriented system helps teams align around common goals. These organizational goals can then cascade to the team and employee level, making it easy to ensure consistency and clarity at all levels of the agency.
Not only does this ensure everyone is on the same page; it also creates a structure with which to check in more than once a year. Rather than only receiving performance feedback annually – often in a negative context – employees receive frequent updates and guidance to improve their performance.
Bias in Performance Reviews
Bias in performance ratings can emerge without a centralized system that codifies performance ratings standards and provides a top down distribution of appraisal resources. While rarely intentional different managers can have different expectations and processes for performing appraisals. An effective performance management system provides top down distribution of appraisal resources. This means objective performance data and assessment metrics that can be applied to everyone based on their role and seniority.In addition to creating standardized performance elements, such a system should support employee-specific elements based on past performance data, aligned to organizational goals.
Ineffective Rewards System
Employees may not see the link between behavior and ratings when communication and performance discussions are infrequent. An effective employee may not know which behaviors are considered successful and what kind of impact they have on the agency. An ineffective employee who only receives feedback may not know exactly what needs to change or how to start the process.
A federally-focused performance management system provides:
mechanisms to provide off-cycle progress reviews;
a clear set of performance elements and clear metrics by which they are measured; and
awards management and reporting tools.
Building a Better Performance Management Solution
Whether your agency currently has limited or no web-based performance management software in place, or you are currently considering private-sector software solutions, it’s important to select a platform that is federally-focused. In addition to addressing common performance cycle challenges, that means it is browser agnostic, in compliance with FedRAMP requirements, section 508 compliant, and when necessary, able to sync data from financial centers.
With the right combination of features to improve communication and boost employee engagement, performance management tools are an invaluable resource for every federal agency.
We help federal and state agencies to improve their operational efficiency, make better data-driven decisions, and empower State and Federal Governments to improve the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of HR operations to manage the “Hire-to-Retire” lifecycle. From consulting and staffing services to operational and analytical software, we have continued to add innovative and cost-efficient solutions, including FedHR Navigator Performance Management, that foster a highly productive and fulfilled workforce for our federal and state clients since 1990.