Federal Government Employees are Lazy
And I know because I was one. Now, one might say that incendiary comments such as this are a bad idea, especially for a blog with a significant readership that happens to work for the federal government. But I’ve never been one to shy away from shameless generalizations. I caveat that not all government employees are lazy. Perhaps not even a majority (that can be argued), but the federal government process – of promotions, advancement, and rewards, doesn’t exactly engender top performance. You can’t completely blame the employees – in the face of a federal hiring freeze, pay caps, and management that doesn’t always deal well with its staff, the incentives to coming into work ready to rock and roll aren’t exactly high.
Another key issue is the fact that you’re often faced with non-stellar employees a cubicle away. Federal Times reports that 11,275 federal employees were fired in FY 2009, out of 2.5 million people. That’s not a lot, and it’s argued many of those firings came out of probationary periods, they weren’t the result of management reviews or disciplinary actions. And just like they say that your friends make you fat, I’ll argue that your co-workers make you lazy.
Most of us work in teams. Regardless of how they’re structured, the ability to do our jobs depends to some extent on how others are doing their jobs. And while any team can drag around dead weight for a time, it doesn’t take long before everyone sinks a little. Judged from the outside, our negative nature generally gravitates toward the dead weight rather than focusing on the shining stars. So even in a federal workforce filled with high performers, with a few too many bad eggs still in the basket, the outside view is that all federal employees are lazy.
I note that I’m a recovering government employee, and just like blonde jokes come across better when told by a blonde than a brunette, making tongue-in-cheek accusations about government employees read better when I actually was one. So, from the outside looking in, I feel your pain, I love your work – I just think federal managers need to fire more people. A lot more people. Once that happens, we’ll notice the cream of the crop and the quality of everyone’s work will improve.
We’re creatures created to love rewards and recognition. A federal workforce that embraced that reality and rewarded the good by weeding out the bad would be well on its way to creating the kind of federal workforce we need more than ever today.