Opinion

Anyone want to work for the government? How the Government Shutdown will impact the US Employment Brand

 

Some people pick their trade or career based on what they like doing, can easily be trained to do, and that will pay them well. And some people take the safest route, the one they think will likely lead to job security. This leaves them vulnerable to being the victim of external job conditions they can’t control.

Sometimes, governments shut down. Sometimes unions strike. Sometimes companies decide to sell and/or reorganize and reduce their workforce.

Anyone who once thought of pursuing a job with the US government for job security is thinking again right now.

The people I have known who wanted to pursue employment with the US government had one, a combination or all of the following motivations: Steady employment, early retirement, and/or patriotic duty.

A comment I read accused people of sensationalizing the personal financial crisis of government workers during the shutdown. “Come on. It’s just one paycheck. Don’t make it sound like people are starving.” Except, a resolution doesn’t appear to be close and this individual must not be one of the many Americans living paycheck to paycheck. Good for him, but he can’t empathize.

40% of Americans have less than $400 in their savings, and 67% have less than $1000. One missed paycheck means some people have to choose between eating and paying utilities. God forbid they need medical attention and have to cover a copay or deductible or have their water heater break down, or need a car repaired.

Are federal employees in the same boat as these Americans? Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz believes that the percentage of government workers living paycheck to paycheck may be smaller, but there are still a large number of government jobs that don’t pay a living wage, according to the reality of living wages today.

Where I live, living expenses are supposedly $68K per year for a family my size (2 adults, 2 children.) This is based on an estimated $6,271 for medical expenses. How many people do you know that pay that little for a family insurance plan plus copays and deductibles annually? Have kids that play sports? I know parents who claim to visit an emergency room or urgent care center monthly.

I also know many families with 2 small kids who pay a lot more than $1,096.25 monthly for childcare. So, even this calculation seems to not cover actual living expenses.

Guess what’s not considered a necessary living expense: cell phones and internet access. Yet how many people would be disadvantaged in pursuing steady employment or better employment without that? Sure, there are ways, but the disadvantages are still there.

Think vacations are important? I do! Actually, if families can’t afford to travel or pay for entertainment, there are many detrimental economic impacts. In fact, it would spur a recession, if not a depression.

How patriotic can you remain if you work for a government who doesn’t pay you a REAL living wage?

So, they may be able to recruit based on patriotic inclinations, but we’re already seeing reports of government employees quitting in record numbers as a result of this shutdown.

Even before the government shut down 64% of government leaders reported difficulties attracting and retaining talent.

And how about disengagement? Even if they can attract bodies to fill the vacancies based on patriotism and retirement benefits, how can they keep their workforce engaged and productive? Right now disengagement in federal jobs mimics disengagement for private sector jobs at 66%. Globally, companies lose $700T per year on disengagement and its resulting productivity drag. While in the US, Gallup estimates the losses are somewhere in the $350B – $550B range.

So, employers lose 34% of each disengaged employee’s salary. Out of 9.1M government employees, 6M or so are disengaged. At an average $51,340 per year, the US government is right now losing $105 TRILLION on disengagement annually.

So, just to break down the math, based on the data, each disengaged worker (6M) is costing $17,455.60 each.

Is your jaw on the floor?

Considering what could be done for the American people with that money, this is a problem that impacts and deserves that attention of ALL Americans!

That is based on 2018/2019 current data! What happens when these numbers skew? What happens when the government finds it harder to recruit and engage talent after this shutdown? What happens when they aren’t able to sell job stability to millennials and Gen Z? Gen Z, by the way, is the generation that witnessed their parents, who worked hard and did everything they were supposed to do, still face financial ruin by the 2008 economic crash. They crave security. Now they are looking at job prospects. Is the government even going to cross their minds as a possible career path? Doubtful!

Let’s do more than just hope that this shutdown ends soon.

So what can we do? Use our voice! Use the communication channels that exist (the media, calling your Congressman/Congresswoman, social media) to raise awareness of the full breadth of detrimental impacts of this shutdown!  Don’t let anyone minimize the problem! For too many, it’s very real and happening now.  SHARE THIS ARTICLE!

We can also champion our federal workers, the majority of whom felt that getting a steady paycheck was more important than serving the public, and engage them from the outside by showing them that they are appreciated by the public they serve, that we know that they are critical to running our country, no matter what role they have. Thank a federal employee today!

 

Europe-Mr. Government Man

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Can Your Opinion Get You Fired or Keep You from Getting Hired?

Thought Bubble by Ian Burt on Flickr

If social media is a powder keg, traditional media is the gun powder. Bubbling to the top of daily trending news are new allegations of sexual harassment. A Wall Street Journal headline this weekend showed that concerned corporate leaders are initiating much deeper investigations into employee claims and are finding much more than credible complaints about sexual harassment, but also evidence of toxic behavior in the form of bullying. Political tensions at work are at historical highs.

Companies are now even more invested in hiring talent who will be able to operate effectively in a diverse climate, and that means that they are looking for potential biases that can signal intolerance that has the potential to constrain effective collaboration, productivity, and therefore profits. Companies concerned about their employment branding are now trying to institute and enforce clearer standards on exactly what opinions employees are allowed to express about at work AND publicly.

Remember this woman who was fired for giving Trump’s motorcade the finger?

Every company ultimately relies on people to operate and profit, so alienating people is a recipe for failure. This includes employees as well as clients or customers.

I rarely post anything political on my social media. Do I have opinions? Yes, but I also have no interest in battling with people opinion-to-opinion. I may, however, raise awareness on an issue of importance to me. For most issues that impact people, like healthcare, civil rights, taxes, etc., I usually let other people voice their opinions and support them with a “like” or “love,” maybe the occasional “fist bump.” Last week’s news about the potential overturning of the elephant tusk ban inspired my rare action, and it was intended to be very issue-based, just letting people know where to sign the petition. For me, this was about animals who cannot speak for themselves, and not about people.

I thought I was clear that I had no interest in politicizing this, and yet three people commented, and two of them made political comments representing opposing sides, while the 3rd  made sure it was known that the overturning of the ban was tabled, which I had also posted the day before.  She did not state anything political, but I see what she comments on frequently through my feed, and historically she tends to be very overt in her political views. I appreciated that she was subtle in her comments on my feed.

While I like her personally, I know there are certain subjects we should not broach in our interactions. I’m actually glad to know where she stands and what we shouldn’t talk about, though I’m discouraged that I feel we wouldn’t be able to have an intelligent discussion because of the emotional context of our opinions. I try not to let these differences of opinion separate me from people. I have vastly different political views from many in my family, but I have no intention of letting that interfere with our closeness.

She at least showed some restraint, whereas others seemed to completely disregard my desire to keep this at an issue-level post and keep party out of it. It seemed like a compulsion, and perhaps even a symptom of an addiction. I have grave concerns for many out there who seem to be in the habit of vocalizing their bias, even though it is within their legal right to do so, because employers have equal rights (as of now,) furthermore the responsibility, to hire people they feel will be contributors to, or at least compliant with, an environment free from all types of harassment.

If I was evaluating my friend as a candidate, she would not even be a contender, in spite of her skill level or performance. I would have serious concerns about how her opinion might influence interactions with my customers or other employees, and I am not alone.

Jobvite’s 2017 Social Recruiting Report states that 57% of recruiters see bias as a real problem in the American workforce. That may not seem like a large majority, but imagine that you are now precluding yourself from 57% of the positions for which you are qualified because you choose to exercise your 1st amendment rights and freely express your opinion. 51% of recruiters “gave pause” to consider a candidate who ranted about politics on social media.

Listen – I do not intent to discourage people from using their voice to stand up for what they believe. However, I want people to make an informed, well-evaluated decision to do so – to be aware of potential risks, and to evaluate the methods, as well.

 

Follow these tips:

  • We rarely influence people when we insult them. If you do decide that something is that important that you must use a public platform to make your point, focus on the issue and data.
  • Notice in yourself if you have a tendency to post before you think, and consider your habit could be harmful.
  • Think about your intention and if any part of it is to induce shame or pain, refrain!

Texas – Say What You Want

Watch the official video to Say What You Want by Texas