Maintaining employee morale in time of federal austerity

John Salamone, Managing Consultant at Federal Management Partners and a CHCO SAGE with the Partnership for Public Service joins Francis Rose with advice for fed...

All federal employees will be impacted by government efforts to reign in budgets and curb spending, this much is certain. But federal managers face the added burden of leading their staff through the uncertainty of what actually lies ahead. The number one concern for federal managers is the implication of reports and rumors of furloughs and pay freezes on staff morale says John Salamone, Managing Consultant at Federal Management Partners and also a CHCO SAGE with the Partnership for Public Service.

Salamone joined Francis Rose on In Depth to talk about the challenges, and critical steps managers should take. His biggest advice to managers is to be upfront with their staff. At this point, there’s a lot of speculation, and the best thing is to get ahead of the speculation and deal in the facts, Salamone said. Among his recommendations:

  • Think outside the National Capital region: “Obviously in the Beltway, we live and breath this every single day, but I think there’s only about 15 percent of the federal workforce is in the Washington area,” Salamone said. “So what’s being transmitted, what’s being communicated, and what’s being heard by federal employees who are really close to the ground?”
  • Service first: there will be belt tightening, but the mission of the agencies is the first and foremost priority, and that it really is a true honor to serve in government and to serve the public should be emphasized.
  • It won’t be easy: All federal managers must be clear to their staffs that there will be sacrifices. They might not know what they are, but be upfront that there will be some.
  • Work with the unions: “As long as there is as close coordination as you possibly can have between management and between the unions, you might be able to get ahead of some of the rumors that are floating around out there,” Salamone said.
  • Tight crafted message: Management should be clear on a message that is being communicated and accepted.

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