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Thaw in federal pay could be floating workers' boats

There's a common idiom that you may have heard. It goes, "Whatever floats your boat." It usually is used as a way to affirm that a person should do whatever makes them happy.

When it comes to federal employment in Texas and the rest of the country, one thing that has not floated a lot of workers' boats has been their pay. Some suggest that has sparked a lot of employee dissatisfaction in recent years, but maybe that is now changing.

Every year for the past 10 years the Partnership for Public Service has issued results of a survey of workers to rank the best places to work in the federal government. This year's report reveals that overall job satisfaction rose 1.2 points compared to 2014. That is good news, though many might find it tempered by the fact that the 2015 score is still just 58.1 out of a possible score of 100.

The results are based on responses to the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey conducted by the Office of Personnel Management and comparable questionnaires compiled by nine other agencies. In general terms, more than 70 percent of the federal organizations polled reported higher employee satisfaction, compared with 43.1 percent in 2014. In 2013, satisfaction was at a dismal 24 percent.

Analysis of the results suggests that one likely factor for the improved attitude is the thaw on federal pay increases after three years of congressionally mandated belt tightening. Few federal workers have likely gone untouched by the furloughs of more than 800,000 workers and the freeze on salaries.

Officials say specific categories that showed significant improvements in satisfaction included training and development, performance-based rewards and opportunities for advancement.

One of the categories receiving the lowest satisfaction score centers on leadership. The report says this has been an area of chronic trouble historically and that hasn't changed with 2015.

Many workers feel they are not treated fairly when faced with disciplinary action. Attorneys with experience in defending federal employees in such matters know the system is large and complex and are prepared to apply their skills to protect worker rights.

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