Many of you likely joined the government to work with the system to create positive impacts for society. Your agencies have pro-social missions, like promoting public health, preserving natural land, defending the nation, etc. But are these agency missions enough to maintain a high job satisfaction? No, according to the Partnership for Public Service’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey. Federal employee morale is declining.
We can point the finger at the tight budget, looming cuts, and hiring freezes, but we’d not only be missing a significant chunk of the problem, but we also wouldn’t be doing ourselves any favors because there’s little we can do about our compensation. Fortunately, there is something we can do about another culprit of the sinking morale: lack of employee appreciation.
According to a Federal News Radio survey, “79 percent of managers and 72 percent of employees said they know people who retired or left government due to morale issues in their federal offices.” When asked what would boost motivation, survey respondents cited these ideas below:
How to improve?
- Time-off awards
- Team-building events
- Improved communication and feedback
- Coaching from the management (Considering: How can I provide support to my employee? How can I challenge him/her? How can I provide constructive criticism?)
- Employee Appreciation/Simple thank-yous
Have you experienced any decline in morale in your office? Have you found any effective motivators?
A timely post, and great suggestions, Hannah. Though I’ve never been in a position where I’ve given feedback to other employees, I have done something similar while working on group projects in graduate school. One thing that was fairly effective was offering both constructive criticism and praise – the old three or four positives for every negative style.
In my opinion, as an employee, nothing is worse than feeling that your work and accomplishments are not appreciated. Some may theorize that it’s because I’m a millennial, but I think all of us have a basic need to be recognized for the efforts we put into our work and the products we create.
being one of those that left active federal service, I can say that ONE of the reasons that I left was the less than optimum communications/morale in the office/agency I was working with…
Spent the last 5 years of my 44 year career with an agency that would only offer any kind of awards to the “select few”; Only once did I receive a thank you for a good job done and that was for a team effort that I was only marginally involved in; Was never recognized for offering suggestions which were implemented for improving the efficiency of the office; At evaluation time I was not offered any suggestions on how I could improve my productivity although I always got “fully successful”;
Was not alone in the poor/very poor communications/morale apparently all the “new” people were treated the same, I was one of close to 50 percent, who actually took advantage of an opportunity to leave, IMO I would still be working away and I would like to think making a difference if the communications were much better.
Again IMO most of the morale problems can/could be solved by improved quality communications…
I’m in one of the those agencies that seems to have the lowest morale of all agencies, with little hope for improvement. One theme that all of your five remedies have in common is that we need to appreciate and collaborate with one another. This is difficult in a hierarchical organization that does not allow employees to use social networks, which are designed for these two purposes.
Great short piece about the power of positive thinking – makes the case for positive messages/reinforcement/rewards for employees. http://fcw.com/articles/2012/10/15/comment-steve-kelman-positive-thinking.aspx
Personally, I don’t find time off awards a boost to my motivation or morale. In fact, so often employees can’t take the time they already receive so to get additional hours that end up on the losing end of “use or lose,” I can’t agree. Ditto with the simple thank you’s; so many times those thank you’s come across hollow and insincere, The words are spoken because it is expected and for no other reason. Or worse, the supervisor’s true feelings are known yet he/she wants to give everyone a certificate for an event or work that wasn’t supported or appreciated in the first place. I’d rather receive nothing if it means I don’t have to put up with such dishonesty from my supervisor. We’ve had great team-building events that work short term. As for improved communications – how many years has this been on everyone’s list? I’ve been with the government for 27 years and it’s been on the list every year… can we finally just recognize it’s not going to happen? I know by reading my words you think I’m a malcontent and I’m not. I thoroughly enjoy my job and don’t need phony kudos to get by. Granted, there are many who feel otherwise but to do so will only add to the frustrations. I’ve found it’s so much easier if the only expectations you get from the job are your own.