Six Agencies You Don't Want to Work For if You're a High Performer


Only four in 10 federal employees believe they will be rewarded for high-quality work.

Just four in 10 federal employees believe that performing well at their jobs will earn them a performance-based reward or a promotion, according to a new report.

The latest Best Places to Work in the Federal Government snapshot by the Partnership for Public Service found that federal workers ranked performance-based awards and advancement last out of the 10 workplace categories included in the annual Best Places to Work rankings, with a score of just 43.4 on a scale of 100. The score in that category dropped 2.5 points between 2011 and 2012.

The worst agencies to work for in terms of performance recognition and promotions were the Transportation, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security departments, as well as the National Archives and Records Administration, the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the report.

“With limited ability to increase compensation or to provide other monetary rewards, managers must rethink how they define rewards and recognition,” the report states. “This could involve a number of low-cost or even cost-free steps, including greater acknowledgement for doing a good job, opportunities for career development, greater responsibilities and new experiences.”

While the report is not specific to the federal IT workforce, the findings hold implications for the federal government’s ability to recruit and retain IT workers, many of whom have said more interesting or challenging assignments as well as promotions or new titles are key factors in their recruitment and retention.  

In addition, relating these issues to the federal IT workforce becomes even more critical when comparing the government’s results in the rewards and promotions category to those in the private sector. Private sector employees ranked their employers 9 points higher than feds when asked about the recognition they receive for doing a good job, and 14 points higher when asked about promotion opportunities, the Partnership found.

Still, despite the low score on promotions and rewards for the federal government overall, some agencies continue to stand out. Among large agencies, NASA, the Intelligence community and the Commerce Department ranked highest, while the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Trade Commission and Nuclear Regulatory Commission were on top among mid-size agencies.