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Feds sound off on morale

When the partial government shutdown ended in mid-October, FCW published a piece looking at the possible consequences on the morale of federal workers, and questioned whether retirement-eligible federal workers and younger workers with long careers ahead would leave federal service. The article drew a lot of comments from federal workers worried about pay freezes, job security and being demonized in the media.

One reader asked:

"What will it take to get workers to stay? 1. Restoration of COLAs and adjustments to be closer to private sector pay. 2. Restoration of bonus pools (now down 80%). 3. Restoration of the ability to travel to conduct the nation's business. 4. Restoration of the ability to attend, participate in, co-sponsor and hold technical and training conferences to interact with stakeholder and to sharpen job skills. But, most of all, start treating us like the assets we are, instead of costs to avoid."

Another reader wrote:

"I am retirement eligible and wondering why I still bother. I was even joking that I might have to retire to INCREASE my take home pay! How does Congress expect us to attract young talent when one of the few things going for Federal employees was job stability? Hard to make that argument anymore."

Some readers worried about how federal workers are portrayed in the media. One wrote:

"Every day the news [says that] government worker is an over paid fat cat that only sucks on the nipple of the American tax payer. How is that for morale? Honestly, many government workers are vested and have too much invested to leave even if they wanted too. However, for many new employees who are not yet vested, what is the incentive to stay?"

One reader alluded to the Federal Employee Viewpoints Survey from the Office of Personnel Management:

"OPM should replace most of their survey with a 'this place sucks' button."

Adam Mazmanian responds: Since our initial article, OPM released the results of its 2013 survey, which shows overall job satisfaction in decline among federal workers. While there's no breakout of retirement-eligible feds, the survey did show that federal employees age 60 and older in general reported the highest levels of job satisfaction compared to other age groups, are among the most satisfied with their organization, and are the most likely to answer that the work they do is important.

The survey is murky about whether a morale-based retirement wave is in the offing. About 84 percent of survey respondents said they planned to stay at their agency or seek another federal job, with roughly 6 percent planning to retire, 4 percent looking for work in the private sector, and 5 percent leaving for other reasons. (The numbers add up to 101 because of rounding.) The 2013 survey was conducted before the shutdown, but during sequestration. It will have to wait until next year's survey to find out if the partial shutdown was a tipping point for employee morale.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Nov 12, 2013 at 1:41 PM

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Reader comments

Mon, Dec 2, 2013

I enjoyed a federal career that I would not change if I could. It was not because the pay was better but because the work was. In my time in the private sector I have made much more money for doing less good. I can live with that because I had some "money in the bank." That is, I had done more in one case and got less compensation and balanced that with the opposite case in the private sector. It's completely understandable that someone who experiences only one side of the issue would be jaded. Enjoy and appreciate each situation you are in. Life is short.

Fri, Nov 22, 2013

It seems to be an era of categorizing and hating others. Name the group that is the culprit--immigrants, government workers, private sector scoundrels, neighbors, etc. Get off the web, meet some real people, hear what they are like and grow up. Life is not the web, tv, Fox news, Oprah or Dr. Phil. Life is us. We're born, grow up with issues, make some mistakes and hopefully pass something on. The human race or species is a little worrisome.

Wed, Nov 20, 2013

If they don't like us the way we are today, just wait until they see more and more employees actually do the bare minimum to get by. And no, they can't get rid of us, it's too hard! Deal with it, you want treat us like scum and give us the bare minimum, well it goes both ways buddy.

Wed, Nov 13, 2013 OccupyIT

I have immense respect for USG staffers that are working hard and doing the best they can for the taxpayer. That said, comments about job stability show how out of touch some folks are. Please provide a breakdown of the number of USG Direct Hires fired, for any reason, over the last ten years. In the next column show the same for Federal Contractors and in the next column show the national figures. Navel gazing never looks good in public. Also, start treating the people around you with the same respect that you expect from them, including your contractors. The amount of hating going on right now between staffers and other staffers and between staffers and contractors is NOT a result of external people calling you names. It is an internal cancer that needs to be cured from within. If you don't believe in what you're doing then do something else. Otherwise, don't let the b*stards get you down and don't let them drag you down to their level! We love great Feds - and great Contractors!

Wed, Nov 13, 2013

I wonder if that is the same survey we took a few months ago (at least the article's description sounds like it). The way the survey was worded made it easy to say I like my job, I feel that it is important, our people do good, and hard to say the environment is starting to suck, the upper management (senate, president, and the house) have no interest in us, we were less well paid than our peers in Real Life but stable with ok benefits, and things look to be going downhill. And that was before the fight where Obama and the Democrats said no budget will pass without funding Obamcare and the Republicans were saying let us fund the budget and leave out Obamacare for now, and the Government rank and file workers were the ping pong ball.

Surveys, you have to take them with a grain or more of salt since they can be tailored to give one side of the story, and not the rest of the story.

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