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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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