What motivates Federal employees? John Berry answers.

“Mission. Impact. Scale.” That’s the short list from John Berry, Director of the U. S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), i.e. the President’s Chief People Person. The comment came yesterday at the National Press Club during a leadership briefing on progress in hiring reform, hosted by Government Executive Media Group with support from TMP Government. Gov Exec’s Kellie Lunney has captured the surprising figures from the presentation. As Berry says, the government is at last moving away from practices that may have once had meaning, but now can deter the best and the brightest from entering public service. A case in point came when Berry noted that government is 96 percent off “KSA Island,” referring to the knowledge skills and abilities essays that applicants had to write whether or not the position called for writing skills.

I was especially interested when the moderator Tom Shoop, Government Executive Editor-in-Chief, asked about recruitment difficulties during this time of salary freezes and budget cuts. As you may know, I addressed this topic in the EDGE, our TMP Worldwide publication. In prefacing his question, Mr. Shopp referred to the three top motivators for Federal civil service as “Mission. Security. Benefits.” Mr. Berry responded with an alternative list that has been corroborated many times in our research with leaders and employees: “Mission. Impact. Scale.” Applicants join up to make a difference, creating a better world on a scale unmatched by any organization.

Fortunately if the present trend continues, those inspired job seekers will find that, as Mr. Berry put it, federal reforms are making it “easier to apply for, but harder to get the job.” In other words, candidates can get beyond obsolete bureaucratic measures into an authentic meritocracy, where rigorous qualifications and competition are balanced with a meaningful use of veterans and diversity considerations. Under any economic conditions, America will obviously benefit from a principles-based Federal workforce.

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Thomas Delorme
Written by Thomas Delorme

VP, Digital Products & Strategy

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