TSEA survey: 87% of state workers believe evaluations subjective

News release from Tennessee State Employees Association:
NASHVILLE – The Haslam administration plans to eliminate across-the-board pay raises and tie state employee pay and compensation to performance evaluation results, but the objectivity of the State’s performance evaluation system is in question according to a recent survey by the Tennessee State Employees Association.

Beginning in January, the Governor’s Pay-For-Performance (or Merit Pay) system would reward employees evaluated as “Valued” a 2% pay increase; employees evaluated as “Advanced” would receive 3%, and those evaluated as “Outstanding” would receive 4% for FY2016.

The TSEA survey, consisting of two questions and distributed to state employees, found that 87% of respondents believe the state’s SMART Performance Evaluation system is subjective, meaning the results can vary due to a supervisors personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations. Of survey respondents, 79.4% also indicated they were told by their supervisor that they cannot be evaluated higher than a “3” or what is considered “valued.”

“The Haslam administration wants to take away longevity pay for state employees and only ‘reward’ employees based completely on a subjective and possibly restricted performance evaluation system.” said TSEA Executive Director John Summers. “We are very concerned that, even if funds are available each year for raises, some employees under the Governor’s performance-pay system will find their earning potential limited by their supervisors.”

According to DOHR Commissioner Rebecca Hunter, the department’s own audit of the SMART Performance Evaluation system indicated the system was only “92% smart.” TSEA believes there is more work to be done before we can be assured Governor Haslam’s pay-for-performance system is objective and fair to all state employees.

Note: The Senate Democratic Caucus liked the above and was quick to offer Haslam-critical commentary. The release is below.

News release from Senate Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE – Following controversy over Gov. Haslam’s plan to cut state employee longevity pay, a survey of state employees found that 87% of employees find state merit evaluations too subjective.

“As it stands now, the governor has proposed to take part of employee pay, create a pool of money with it, and give it back to employees and call it a ‘raise,'” Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris said. “That’s distressing to state employees, and this survey is an indication of that. On top of that, some parts of the survey suggests that employees are getting conflicting information about how they will be scored.”

The survey, conducted by the Tennessee State Employees Association, also found that 79% of state employees have been told by their supervisor that they cannot be evaluated higher than a “3” on the five-point scale.

“There are straightforward ways to fix this plan, give employees a raise for performance, and reduce the distress that’s apparent in the survey results,” Sen. Harris said. “Why not just leave their pay alone, and give a real raise?”