DHS Employees Believe In Their Work, But Not Merit-Based Pay Increases Or Reforming Poor Performers

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees believe in the importance of their work, but they don't think pay raises are linked to job performance, and they don't believe steps are taken to deal with poor performers, an internal department survey found. Those are just a few of the findings of the 2007 Department of Homeland Security Annual Employee Survey (AES).
The survey sample included all permanent, civilian DHS employees as of August 2007, totaling more than 140,000 workers. Of those, 65,753 completed the survey, for a response rate of 47%.

On the positive side, 80% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, "I like the kind of work I do." Slightly more than 90% agreed or strongly agreed that the work they do is important.

However, those surveyed expressed serious concerns about performance management issues. Only 25% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that promotions in their work unit are based on merit; 45% disagreed or strongly disagreed. Slightly less than 30% agreed or strongly agreed when asked whether creativity and innovation are rewarded; 41% disagreed or strongly disagreed. A mere 17% believed that "pay raises depend on how well employees perform their jobs," while 54% disagreed or strongly disagreed. And only 25% agreed or strongly agreed that steps are taken to deal with a poor performer who cannot or will not improve; 45% disagreed or strongly disagreed.

In the leadership category, 42% of survey participants said they have a "high level of respect" for their organization's senior leaders. Approximately 35%, however, disagreed or strongly disagreed with that statement.

DHS leaders apparently are not doing very well when it comes to inspiring their employees either. Just 29 percent said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, "In my organization, leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce." Approximately 45% of those responding disagreed or strongly disagreed.

In response to the survey results, department officials have said they understand that employee morale continues to be a problem, but that it will take some time to turn that around, given the department's size and complexity.

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