Friday, November 15, 2013

Why Contracting Officers and Auditors Are Sometimes Grumpy

Government contractors are among those that have significant interactions with Government employees. Contractors rely on those employees a lot to ensure effective, economical and efficient operations and ultimately their own financial health and viability. Most contractors will tell you that their interactions with Government employees are positive but most contractors will also have a war story or two how a few employees and/or the systems they support have cost them money. Contractors understand that everyone has a job and responsibilities sometimes employees can go beyond those duties and cause a lot of delays, disruptions, and other encumbrances. Sometimes someone just has to throw wrenches into the works for whatever reason.

Contractors know the importance of maintaining an effective, cohesive, motivated, and happy workforce. The Government knows that as well, but we dare say, the Government, with a workforce of 4.4 million probably has more HR challenges than the typical Government contractor.

The Government's HR department, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) just released the results of its 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey where 376 thousand federal employees provided responses to a "climate" survey. According to OPM, there was good news and bad news. First the good news. 90 percent of federal employees look for ways to do their job better and feel their work is important. That's good news? That means there are 440,000 (10% of the 4.4 million federal workforce) employees running around who don't want to do their job better and don't feel their work is important. Really? Get rid of them and hire some that care and need work.

That was the good news. Now the bad. "...the 2013 responses demonstrate a significant drop in employee satisfaction and continue last year's declines..." There is decreased satisfaction with pay, an increase in the number of employees lacking the resources to get their jobs done, and a significant drop-off in the number of employees who would recommend their organization as a good place to work. That should alarm any employer.

OPM attributed the decline in employee satisfaction a lot of budget uncertainty and raised an alarm:
Factors such as an unprecedented 3 year pay freeze, automatic reductions from the sequester that included furloughs for hundreds of thousands of employees, and reductions in training and other areas are clearly taking their toll on the Federal workforce - and this survey was administered prior to the recent Government shutdown. The survey results serve as an important warning about the long-term consequences of the sequestration and budget uncertainty. Without a more predictable and responsible budget situation, we risk losing our most talented employees, as well as hurting our ability to recruit top talent for the future.
The next time you encounter a grumpy Government employee, you'll know why he/she is grumpy.

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