Bill Valdez, president of the Senior Executives Association, and Terry Gerton, president & CEO of the National Academy of Public Administration, discuss what the shutdown means for morale and other workforce issues across the federal government.
As thousands of federal workers receive their second $0 paycheck, the partial government shutdown’s effect on the workforce is becoming clear. According to Bill Valdez, president of the Senior Executives Association, morale concerns are spreading across the federal government. “It affects not just the people who are not getting paid, but the people who are getting paid. I just had a conversation with one of my former staff at the Department of Energy and he said, ‘Oh my god, this is really making me rethink what I think about the federal government as a place to work,’” Valdez said. “Keeping somebody who is not getting a paycheck motivated and focused on the mission of the agency is just doubly hard in a situation like this.” One of the largest agencies impacted by the shutdown is the Coast Guard. USCG Commandant Adm. Karl Shultz recently put out a message on Twitter in support of unpaid sailors. Terry Gerton, president & CEO of the National Academy of Public Administration, says that like Adm. Shultz, managers have to stay cognizant of how their workers are feeling and keep the lines of communication open. “It is amazing when you have the head of a service have to speak out publicly about the challenges of running that. In other organizations, there’s a transparency that has to happen with the leadership and with the public that says ‘These functions are no longer going to be performed. Even though they’re essential, we can’t support them anymore and we care deeply about the welfare of our people,’” Gerton said. “It’s not right that you have federal employees, or Coast Guard members who have to seek assistance from food banks and charities.”