Each week, GovLoop teams up with the Washington Post to wonder what's on the minds of government employees like you. This week's question is...
Public Service Recognition Week:
Yay! or Yawn?
First off, if you haven't heard of Public Service Recognition Week (affectionately known as PSRW), then you might want to respond with a yawn.
If, however, you wait with baited breath every year for that one week when everyone stops and asks you to take a bow, you may tell us so below right now.
Of course, then there's the reality of your agency's reaction:
Anything special happening in your workplace to honor the efforts of you and your colleagues?
How much of a difference do you believe this week can make when it comes to the public’s perception of federal workers?
As always, feel free to weigh in via the comments or send me an anonymous email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll post without attribution. You may also submit your reaction directly at the Washington Post.
By the way, you might also like GovLoop's past efforts at acknowledging PSRW:
Unfortunately, I don't even think that PSRW hit many agencies' radar screens.
In my unofficial poll of others, about 80% didn't even know that this is Public Service Recognition Week (more teachers know that this is also Teacher Appreciation Week). If you didn't catch the PSRW Town Hall Meeting with four of our best leaders, I highly recommend viewing it (http://publicservicerecognitionweek.org/). I don't think that you need to spend precious resources to appreciate others. A simple e-card thanking others for service, or even a simple awards ceremony to recognize others (similar to the SAMMIES) is often enough.
It's a shame that we need to be reminded to recognize others, but unfortunately most of us are too caught up in the day-to-day business of government to take the time to recognize the important work that we do every day. Even the Senate passed a resolution commemorating this day. Maybe they don't hate us after all!
Given the hostility that public servants are facing these days from an electorate (and the people they elect) convinced that they pay too much taxes for too much "government", and that public servants "have it too easy", my sense is that there isn't a lot of publicizing of the week, just to avoid backlash.
Wait, you mean Radio Shack, Kroeger, and Target won't give you 5% off this week if you show your public service ID card?
There is an annual National Public Service Week here in Canada in the middle of June. I can't really speak to more than the rather banal activities of my own agency (service awards, volleyball game, barbecue), but I commute with people from other agencies and I've never heard anything from them that made me jealous. The general ambiance is that it feels kind of forced, like being dragged to the wedding anniversary of a couple you don't know very well: the food will be acceptable, and the people pleasant enough, but not the sort of thing you'd spontaneously seek out.
I'm curious to see what will happen this year, given that the entire PS is undergoing cutbacks, and hiring freezes. There is a chill of uncertainty in the air. Makes one wonder how it will be pitched this time and whether individual agencies that have been hit hardest will try and pretend like everything's normal, downplay things this year, or take extra steps to instill hope.
From a more objective organizational research perspective, it's actually an interesting scenario: how do organizations handle "traditions" predicated on better times?
It will be interesting. Having been through several rounds of govt. downsizing in the past, my general impression is that any kinds of "celebrations" for the public service during these times really tend to create more cynicism than good. I think they CAN be positive, but I also think it takes a master, expert hand to create the tone of such events so they don't backfire.
Agree fully on all points.
Yawn ... we got a nice memo from our Secretary on how proud she was to serve with such dedicated people; really inspired my week. Nor have I seen any posters, banners or coffee corners from senior execs. Kind of just passing by - maybe the funding was cut or it is an off year for Public Service appreciation. Or maybe people are just so jaded and burnt by another "Week of .." or "Month of ....." Or maybe when Congress and the media keep denigrating federal employees as lazy, incompetent and can't really work in the real world, kill pay raises for five years and increase deductions to "make it fair with our private sector peers" - it is hard to get excited over a week long recognition.
These recognition weeks/months are supposed to draw attention to a particular issue, but when every week is another issue or cause - my cause meter is just pegged out at 0.
Honestly, my peers and I really want to do good thngs, we want to solve those big issues, keep America safe, make America great, we do want to be innovative and think outside the box. But all we can do is enforce what Congress legislates based on thier rules and funding. Federal employees did not create this mess - but we seem to be the clean up crew ... again.
Whoa, all these commemerative days, weeks and months are critical to the self esteem of those so honored, How would they ever be able to thnk well of themselves if there was no reminder on the calander to tell the world of their importance. Besides, I would hate to think that all the work I put in during the 80s gaining cosponsors for my boss's bill to establish "Dairy Goat Appreciation Week" had been wasted.
Yes it was a real bill and yes we managed to get it enacted.
We must work for the same Department, as I received a similar email.
Along with that, I agree 100% with everything you said. Too hard to get engaged with any of the causes as there is a new one each week!
I was given a lollypop as I walked in. Seriously. There have been some emails, but that's about it.
I little different in local government, but we've had refreshments all week. I'm not sure of how much of a difference it can make on a broad scale. Individually, I'm sure it's lighting up someone's day.
All such activities, had they existed prior to my recent arrival, have almost certainly been cut. Pretty much every incentive has been removed due to recent media coverage of the GSA scandal. I don't see them reappearing any time soon either.