Survey: More incentives needed for Senior Executive Service

Tuesday - 4/20/2010, 6:01pm EDT

Carol Bonosaro, President, Senior Executives Association

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By Dorothy Ramienski
Internet Editor
Federal News Radio

The federal government is facing a variety of challenges when it comes to attracting employees into the Senior Executive Service.

Those are the findings of a recent survey conducted by the Senior Executive Association.

Taking the Helm: Attracting the Next Generation of Federal Leaders was released on Wednesday and contains the results of an extensive government-wide survey of GS-14s and 15s.

"The results kind of surprised us," said SEA president Carol Bonosaro.

The SEA highlighted nine key findings after reviewing the results.

Among them are the fact that many say they want to become members of the SES because they want to contribute more to the agency and take on more responsibility and authority.

Conversely, the biggest detractors have to do with the potential for a negative impact on balancing work and family life, the potential of being reassigned geographically and the complexity of the application process.

"Clearly," Bonosaro told Federal News Radio, "the younger generation, if you will, has some hesitation about the notion of the 24/7 jobs that some of the Senior Executives have."

In addition, it turns out potential SESers do think about their wallets.

The survey found that, while pay was not a top attractor or detractor among respondents, a lot of GS-14s and 15s said that the difference between their current pay and that of an SESer is not commensurate with the increased workload.

Bonosaro noted that fewer than half of the respondents "said the attractors outweighed the detractors" to moving into the SES.

In addition to the survey, the SEA sent a questionnaire to members of the federal federal Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council on similar issues associated with attracting, hiring, and retaining individuals for career SES and Senior Professional positions.

The report said that, overall, CHCOs and GS-14s and 15s are on the same page when it comes to their opinions of the SES.

The SEA makes 10 recommendations about making the SES more attractive.

Those include an increased emphasis from OPM on the importance of the SES; agencies devoting more effort to creating a better work/life balance for SESers; and having Congress, agencies and OPM work together to increase incentives, monetary and otherwise, for SESers.

The SEA stressed the importance of encouraging a skilled SES workforce in the report:

It is imperative that the federal government attract motivated and capable individuals to SES and Senior Professional positions. Addressing the issues identified in this report will go a long way toward building strong SES and SL/ST systems that are attractive to the next generation of federal leaders.

Additional reporting by Senior Internet Editor, Suzanne Kubota.

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