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Federal Government Announces New Employee-Led Work Schedules for Federal Employees

March 31, 2013, by Corina Sibley | Performance Management

In a surprise move, the federal government announced this morning that it will begin allowing its employees to maintain their own work schedules effective April 1, 2013.  Citing the growing popularity of the ROWE movement  (Results Only Work Environment), a government spokesperson had this to say:  “By allowing our employees to choose their own work schedules, we anticipate we will have less absenteeism in the workplace and a happier and more productive employee base.”  The spokesperson also added that the government will be instead monitoring employee productivity and results and instituting pay for performance, something that has not been done in the past.  “Before, our employees just simply had to show up and they’d get paid, whether or not they met their goals and deliverables.  Now, we don’t care if they’re actually in the office, as long as their deliverables are completed on time and to a high standard.” 

A similar move is being contemplated in the public sector in the UK.  Charles Cotton of the UK’s CIPD had this to say:  “unless the public sector starts linking pay to performance or better engages with those in the private sector about why their taxes should reward public sector workers differently, public sector employers could find it hard to legitimise pay decisions in the eyes of the private sector.”  Not surprisingly, the majority of UK public sector employees are not in favour of it.

Several companies have instituted ROWE but with mixed results.  Most recently, Best Buy’s CEO cut the ROWE program for its employees, explaining that they needed all hands on deck.  However, the founders of ROWE, who incidentally came from Best Buy, were quick to point out that the CEO clearly doesn’t understand what ROWE is all about (and it’s not all about working from home). 

It will be interesting to see how the federal government makes out with its bold move of holding their employees accountable for results versus the current culture of entitlement and presenteeism.  But given how incredibly difficult it is to change an organization’s culture (ever hear the term ‘pushing an elephant up a flight of stairs’?) not to mention union pressure, this author would not be surprised if the federal government pulls a Best Buy on its fledgling ROWE enterprise.


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