By Ann Boehm, February 13, 2019

I know, I know.  How can there possibly be any good news after the 35-day government shutdown? But please hear me out.

Those who were required to work are exhausted, exasperated, and bummed that they did not have an opportunity to clean out closets and basements. Those who did not work are frustrated and feeling undervalued. Let’s not forget the overdue bills and debts incurred when hundreds of thousands weren’t paid for 35 days.  Everybody is angry – and that’s understandable.  You should be.

During the 2013 shutdown, I was “essential,” or whatever the buzzword of the day is for “having to work during a shutdown.” I wasn’t sure I would be essential, so I started a basement paneling painting project, expecting to have lots of time to see that to completion. But I was essential, so my “furlough project” became my evenings and weekends project.

There’s always some relief in being essential, because you know you will get paid. But then Congress also pays the non-essential employees for the time they did not have to go to work. I will fully admit that I was bitter about having to work while others did not. And we all got paid the same. And my basement still had to be sanded, primed, and painted.

Why am I going over all of this?

To move forward as an effective body of federal government employees, everyone needs to acknowledge the frustrations felt by everyone else (except maybe Congress and the President, who haven’t seemed particularly bothered by it) during and after this shutdown. Perhaps those who did get a substantial amount of paid time off can pick up some slack as they return and help those who had to work without pay. Maybe agencies can come up with creative ways of rewarding those who had to work. Maybe agencies can also figure out ways to show those who were non-essential that they are highly valued.  Most importantly, everyone needs to be mindful of everyone else’s needs. Federal employees need to work together to get this government back in shape.

Okay, Ann, you may be saying. Still waiting for the good news. Well here goes.

The American public is starting to realize that government employees are skilled, hard-working, and dedicated, and that they’re critical to the nation’s effectiveness. That is really good news.

As you know from our newsletters, federal employees have been a target for Congress and the President, and even the public. But you know the old adage: You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Now Congress is actually contemplating a 2.6 percent pay raise for 2019! Let’s hope the good will and positive feelings toward Federal employees continue.   We need that for federal workers and for the good of the country.

What else?

We at FELTG are here to help. Our instructors are available to assist the overworked among you. Along with the training we provide, we can serve as advisors, consultants, and even litigating attorneys. Need help reviewing discipline proposal and decision letters?  We can do that.  Need help reviewing investigative reports? We can do that too. Heck, we can even provide oversight and other assistance on performance-based actions and personnel litigation.  Human resources professionals, counsel, and managers out there: If you need assistance to get moving again, we can help.

Also, join me for a 60-minute webinar Boosting Employee Morale: 10 Dos and Don’ts for Federal Managers. I’ll share specific actions you can take to lead employees through these difficult times.

Any more good news?  Yes. This article will be a regular feature of our newsletter. We want you to feel good about yourself and your jobs. We are going to make an effort to highlight what is going well in government—“The Good News.”  Feel free to share any stories with us by emailing me at Boehm@FELTG.com.

We know we often focus on the crazy judges, problem employees, missing MSBP members, and Congressional attacks, among other things, but we know there is good out there.  You need to know those things. But with this column, you can stay tuned for more good news! Boehm@FELTG.com

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