John Klossner

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Work in Progress: Kids these days

When I was in my 20s, I was attempting to create a career in cartooning. Although I realize "a career in cartooning" sounds oxymoronic, many people in my professional community understand what this entails. In my case, it meant a combination of driving and painting jobs, with the usual knocking on the doors of local newspaper and newsletter publishers, begging them to find that spare 25 bucks in their budgets for a cartoon. (Prices have dropped considerably since then. I blame the Internet.)

It is therefore with some incredulity, and much respect, that I learn of the Rising Star awards, for which nominations are announced in this issue. These awards go to younger government workers who have stood out or made a difference in their workplaces at this early stage of their careers. (Again, I am reminded that the major difference I made in the early part of my career was in finding a shorter route from Cape Cod to Boston on my deliveries. Since the stores on the southern part of the route closed after I moved to another job, I left no legacy.)

In researching and thinking of an editorial angle for the cartoon about the Rising Stars, several thoughts occurred to me:

* Is there an age cutoff for the awards? And should there be? Is this award ageism? What if you're a happening 31-year-old who accomplished twice as much as the 30-year-old who got the award, the publicity and the promotion, complete with a cushy office with a view of the Mall? Is that fair? And would that motivate you or would it send you into a tail-spinning funk, losing everyone involved your productivity for the near future?

* Related to this announcement for nominations, this issue of FCW features the Federal 100 -- the world-renowned awards for individual excellence or contributions to government work. I'm afraid to say this, but are the Fed 100 awards the grown-up version of the Rising Stars awards?  And is there an award gap, a space that exists between being eligible for a Rising Star and being realistically eligible for a Fed 100? Does FCW have to come up with an in-between award? if so, I  propose calling it the "We needed to keep the people in the events department busy" awards.

 In trying to create a cartoon on this subject, some scrambling was required. As I've written before, a positive editorial is a hard subject to cartoon. Are we for or against young talented federal employees who work incredibly hard to improve public service?

I think you see what I mean.

I started looking for a different take on the subject, and found gold: Steve Kelman's column on younger employees and the issues they face. As you can see, in recent columns Steve has addressed the hiring and retaining of younger government employees. Besides touching on some other subjects that could serve as future cartoon fodder (e.g., the attracting and retaining of younger workers; how younger workers see federal bureaucracy as a major impediment), I found the underlying idea -- that of federal employment being a challenge for younger workers -- to be something to use for an editorial angle.

Top 8 ways to retain (younger) employees

(An irony here is that any program implemented to help retain younger employees will also -- I assume -- help retain all employees, no matter their age. I guess we're using the younger people as cover.)

  • 8. Show them that all phones and computers are, indeed, working and that someone may actually return their messages some day.

  • 7. Promise that if they ever make it to a Cabinet-level position, they might be able to get an iPhone.

  • 6. Allow flotation devices in the Reflecting Pool during "Federal Employee Swim."

  • 5. Cut back to a 70-hour work week (oops, may be too extreme).

  • 4. Give away T-shirts stating "GAO - OMG!" to new hires.

  • 3. Change "Casual Friday" to "Clothing-optional Friday."

  • 2. Build a casino on the Mall.

  • 1. Pay them in Euros

Oh, yeah -here's this week's cartoon.


Posted by John Klossner on Mar 24, 2008 at 12:18 PM


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