Being an employee of the federal government does not appear to be getting any easier. In the last few years, we have seen a consistent pattern of behavior from Congress and the media that suggests we do not need as many federal employees, and denigrating the work they do.
There have been ongoing freezes to hiring within government agencies, freezes to pay raises, step and grade adjustments, the fiscal cliff, sequestration and the government shut down. And now comes word that more than one-third of federal workers could be eligible to begin receiving their retirement benefits by 2017.
For many of those employees, retirement may seem like a great idea and have come none too soon. For the remaining workers, their situation is likely to further deteriorate, as greater production is demanded of them in face of the shrinking workforce.
This could drive increased conflict from supervisors and managers, as “goals” become more unrealistic and supervisors become more likely to resort to punitive management styles, including adverse job actions, disciplinary actions and the creation of hostile working environments.
Ironically, the GAO report that showed an increase in government workers in the last decade was limited to the three defense related departments, which accounted for 94 percent of the increase. That means the entire rest of the federal government shared the remaining 6 percent increase of employees.
And the pay freezes have lowered workers’ effective salaries with sub-inflationary increases. The average pay from 2004 increased $106,097 to $116,828 in 2012. If they had only kept pace with inflation, their pay would have increased to $128,953. This means workers suffered a $12,000 loss in spending power during that period.
Source: Washington Post, “Fed-worker retirement eligibility to skyrocket by 2017, report says,” Josh Hicks, January 30, 2014