The latest governmentwide employee satisfaction survey indicates that budget cuts, a continuing pay freeze and relentless attacks on federal employees are sapping morale and hampering some agencies’ performance, federal managers and experts say.
At some agencies, the falloff in satisfaction was particularly severe. At the Social Security Administration, 66.5 percent of respondents this year had a positive view of their organization, down sharply from 72.3 percent the previous year.
The results “confirm that you are dedicated hard-working employees who understand how your daily contributions affect our agency’s mission,” Reginald Wells, the agency’s chief human capital officer, said in an email to the SSA workforce.
“However, your responses also show that recent challenges such as increasing workloads, pay and hiring freezes and budget cuts, have affected your satisfaction with your jobs,” Wells added.
The Social Security Administration is in the third year of a partial hiring freeze, during which time its workload has grown.
In fiscal 2012, the agency lost more than 1,600 employees, and more reductions are in store under current funding levels, according to a recent inspector general’s report. As a result, the agency expects customer service on its toll-free 800 number “will deteriorate significantly because it will not have a sufficient number of employees to answer calls,” the report said. To save money, SSA officials last month began closing field offices to the public 30 minutes earlier; and starting in January, the agency’s approximately 1,230 offices will shut down to the public at noon on Wednesdays.
Steve Clifton, president of the National Council of Social Security Management Associations, which represents managers in SSA field offices and teleservice centers, said his members are less frustrated by the 2½-year pay freeze than they are by their day-to-day challenge of tackling a growing workload with less staff and budget resources.