The following is the text from a letter to state agency directors from OPEA that was sent to them Tuesday May 7, 2013. OPEA hopes agency heads will consider the possibility of granting the performance payment out of existing funds.
Dear Agency Director,
The Oklahoma Public Employees Association (OPEA) requests that state agencies consider using funds they may currently have in their budget to pay for a one-time performance payment for their staff. These payments were contained in legislation approved by both the house and senate and was scheduled for conference committee but funding was not included in the recent legislative budget agreement.
We certainly understand the need for your agency to have money in reserve but we believe there is no greater immediate need among state agencies than the need to retain good staff. Therefore, we request that agencies consider funding a performance payment for their staff during SFY 2014.
As an agency director, you are well aware of the challenges in recruiting and retaining qualified employees. The recent legislative budget agreement does not fund any salary increases for staff but employees’ needs continue despite lack of a pay raise.
OPEA supports the current remuneration study which may result in recommendations for how Oklahoma can compete in the marketplace for employees. You are aware that some agencies’ employees have gone six years without a pay increase and we believe that the study can potentially address long-term compensation needs. However, a performance payment during SFY14 would provide some immediate relief to employees.
We do not believe the performance payment would fix agencies’ staffing problems. It would, however, serve as recognition of the great job your staff does in providing core services despite low compensation. The payment would help offset their rising insurance and daily-living costs.
Until Oklahoma develops a competitive pay philosophy, agencies will continue to seek ways to retain workers and limit costly employee turnover. A one-time performance payment to employees who have successful evaluations could be one step in recognizing employees.
OPEA looks forward to any discussion you may want to conduct about funding the performance payment and how we can all work to ensure your employees are well-equipped to carry out your agency’s mission.