Government shutdown — it has taken up days and weeks of energy, time and money. And just about everybody thinks it makes no sense — and it is no way to run any organization, let alone the government.
But beyond that, most observers believe there are scores of ripple effects. GovLoop’s Steve Ressler was quoted in The Washington Post today about the costs of branding certain employees “non-essential.”
“It’s like a stab in the back. Like being told in high school that you’re average and not in the honors classes,” said Steve Ressler, 32, who worked in Homeland Security for six years and now runs GovLoop, informally known as Facebook for Feds. “But it matters, because we need the most talented people to work for government on issues as important as food stamps or Syria. We don’t want the best being driven away by all this beating up on federal workers.”
But what can feds do about it?
Earlier this week at the Government Workforce conference, sponsored by ASTD Government and The Public Manager, Scott Gould, the former deputy secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said that he senses a growing rift between public servants and the people they serve — a rift he compared to the one faced by veterans returning home from the Vietnam War.
In a conversation with Chris Dorobek, host of GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER, he said government workers need to remind people what they do.
“I want to ask everyone to do something that may seem counterintuitive, you have all seen the military from time to time suffer from a separation from the people they serve. Well motivated, mission oriented people can be pushed away by the people they serve. I would ask you to reach out and take the time to talk to that person that thinks you have two horns and a tail. Reach out to them and communicate. Make the case for why government matters, because we here in government, we already know that the mission matters. We know the work you do on a day to day basis matters. But they don’t and they are acting like it. If we want to move forward that has to change,” said Gould.
So… here is our ask — tell us what you do? Why does your job matter? What do you hope the public would understand about the work that you do?
Meanwhile, hear the entire conversation with Gould and Jim Trenka, VA’s Executive Director, Senior Executive Leadership Development Program here: