By Ann Boehm, December 6, 2022

Dear Santa:

I hope you and Mrs. Claus are doing well. Has inflation hit the North Pole? Kind of crazy how it’s hit everyone this year!

Is the staff recovering from the pandemic? Any mass resignations or “quiet quitting” by the elves? I’m sure you’ve always had a great work-life balance up there, but I know it must be tough to do that given your hard and fast deadline every year!

My Christmas list this year is pretty short and in no particular order (although the last one may be the one, I want most!). I think I’ve been very good, so I hope I get my Christmas wishes!

  1. Better recognition by agencies of bad supervisors.

Santa, we here at FELTG teach a lot of classes intended to help supervisors understand how to handle problem employees. I think sometimes agencies forget that there are bad supervisors, and those bad supervisors can even create problem employees. It would be great if agencies could take a close look at their managers and supervisors to see if they are in the good column or bad column.

Signs to look for: excessive turnover in the workplace, frequent grievances or EEO complaints, and generally unhappy staff. If those signs are present, the problem may be the supervisor and not the employees.

  1. Better employee understanding of what a hostile work environment really is.

Santa, too many employees think that being unhappy at work equates to a hostile work environment. That’s just not true. Harassment is very real, sadly, but the EEOC cannot get to the legitimate cases quickly because it has to deal with lots of non-meritorious hostile work environment cases that bog down the whole system.

So how can you help, Santa? Employees need to know that a hostile work environment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct; based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy), national origin, older age (40 and over), disability, or genetic information; that is so severe or pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of employment.

  1. Better collective bargaining negotiating by agencies to avoid agreeing to collective bargaining agreement (CBA) language that gives the union more rights than the labor statute requires.

Santa, in 1978, Congress passed the very detailed Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. Bargaining unit employees and their unions have lots of rights through the statutory language. It always makes me a bit sad when I see a provision in a CBA that gives the union and employees more rights than the statute requires. For example, requiring agency investigators to tell bargaining unit employees about their Weingarten rights is not a statutory requirement, but the requirement is in far too many bargaining agreements.

  1. Better efforts by unions and agencies to sincerely work together and put the public interest above their individual interests.

Santa, sometimes unions and agencies act like toddlers in playroom:  They each hold tight to their “toys” and refuse to share. Good preschool teachers help little kids understand the value of sharing. You are pretty good with the whole “toy” thing. Maybe you can help unions and agencies figure out that it’s better to put individual interests aside and work toward a common ground that results in the best service to the public.

  1. More in-person training.

Santa, virtual training is working well, but in-person training is my favorite. As we continue to emerge from the crazy COVID world, I hope that we get back to more in-person training. I asked for this last year, and we did have more in-person training this year than in 2020 and 2021. Employees seem to be enjoying the interactions that in-person training provides.

  1. A pony.

Santa, I’m not getting any younger. I’m going to keep asking …

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!  Ann. [email protected]

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