Perceptions of fairness “are essential to the success of the performance appraisal system,” the MSPB has said, adding that “with more than one in every five federal employees believing that the appraisal process is not a fair reflection of their performance, one might question how effective the process is.”

MSPB made that comment regarding its survey finding that employees who consider their ratings too high share more negative attitudes toward their work with those who believe their ratings are too low than with those who believe them to be accurate. It added that those who considered themselves rated too high actually were more likely than those who considered themselves rated too low to report low agency mission success, being poorly fit to the job and to have low passion for their work.

Such findings “may mean that supervisors can’t buy happiness with good performance appraisals. Leaders should not expect that high performance ratings will make the workforce happier and more satisfied with other aspects of their work environment,” it said.

“There are no shortcuts to the hard work of improving employee morale and organizational culture. Agency managers and supervisors need to stick to the basics when it comes to improving the work environment,” said a publication.

It added: “A good place to start may be the performance management process. It won’t solve all organizational problems, but improving the process could help build trust between employees and supervisors. To do this, supervisors should establish a transparent, rigorous performance management process that includes precisely specifying performance criteria, training raters to be accurate, involving employees in performance goal setting, and holding meaningful performance discussions throughout the year. Perceptions of fairness in the performance appraisal process have been demonstrated to be very important, and getting it “just right” will take determined effort.”