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Retirements could add to stress for federal employees

The federal government is expecting a significant increase in the number of retirements it will see as the baby boom generation of workers ends their careers. This creates a number of challenges for many agencies. They will both lose line employees and subject matter experts and along with those employees, the supervisors and managers will be retiring in increased numbers.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that by 2016, more than half of all Senior Executive Service members could retire, and almost half of GS- 15s will be eligible to retire. This loss of senior managers, combined with the stress many agencies face from sequestration and longer-term budgetary cuts, may create difficult working environments for many employees, with the increased potential for employee disputes and adverse job action as a result.

While in a perfect world, one could imagine a scenario where agencies could use this changeover period to retool their management and place the "right" people in leadership positions, one suspect that reality will work out somewhat differently.

With budget cuts exerting pressure on agencies to reduce staff, and experienced managers and other senior employees within the agencies leave, frequently due to increasingly unpleasant working conditions. The remaining staff may be faced with potentially less competent managers, who may have only marginal understanding of the core functioning of a department or division, and this creates a feedback loop, that may fuel even more employees to exit.

As performance of the department suffers, management may lash out at employees identified a "problems." This can lead to negative performance reviews and other adverse job actions, including disciplinary actions. If you find yourself in this type of circumstance, you may want to speak with an attorney familiar with the federal workplace to discuss your employment rights.

Source: Federal News Radio.com, "Agencies fight uphill battle to retain critical knowledge and skills," Jack Moore, May 31, 2013

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