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Federal employees report favoritism rampant

The federal workplace should not be high school. Supervisors or managers should not play favorites, offering the best assignments, giving awards or recognition, promoting their friends or providing them with inflated performance ratings.

After all, the federal government employees are subject to the merit system principles, and the very name of the agency that reviews many federal employment law disputes is named the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

So clearly, only the most qualified employees are promoted and supervisors use merit and ability as the criteria to reward employees. Sadly, no. A recent survey from the MSPB has found that the federal employment system shot through with favoritism, which significantly affects morale and performance.

The survey reports that more than a quarter of all employees within the federal system feel their supervisors act in a way that rewards their friends. This is demoralizing and leads to a disengaged workforce.

Among those workers lucky enough to work for a manager who does not engage in playing favorite, only two percent were unengaged in their work. This contrasts with 30 percent who worked for bosses who were perceived as demonstrating favoritism.

Forty percent of federal employees responded that personal relationships were involved in promotions. And while 98 percent of workers thought "experience and competence" should be used for promotions, only 58 percent felt it was that was used in determining promotions.

More training is suggested for supervisors, to ensure they adhere to the merit system principles, and provide better transparency for their employees to prevent misperceptions of favoritism. The report also recommends punishing supervisors who violate standards and engage in prohibited practices.

As with any employment law dispute, if you feel you have been subjected to a prohibited practice because of a supervisor's favoritism, you must document every interaction and keep records of every incident.

The better you are able to create an objective narrative of your situation, the less likely your complaint will appear as that of a disgruntled employee.

Source: Govexec.com, "Favoritism Still Prevalent in Federal Offices, Some Employees Say," Eric Katz, December 19, 2013

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