Imagine a career that gave you the opportunity to spend each and every day working to thwart a nameless, faceless enemy that you are told by your superiors is an immediate threat to your safety, culture and way of life. Now imagine if much of the population believed that you and your agency were the real threat to the American lifestyle. Welcome to a career at the Department of Homeland Security.
According to reports, morale within the ranks of the Federal government agency designed to protect Americans from perceived threats in a post-9/11 United States has been in bad shape since 2004. That year, a White House-sponsored survey showed that 56 percent of the agency’s employees said they were satisfied with their jobs, compared to 68 percent for government employees overall, according to Federal Computer Week.
Last Thursday, Congress heard testimony from the DHS Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management focused on the ongoing interagency battle with low employee morale. From the testimony lawmakers learned that DHS employees were averagely satisfied with the rate of pay they receive, but had less positive attitudes about the work they do. Subcommittee chairman Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said that while the employees generally believe in their mission, they are unhappy with the leadership within the agency.
The Washington Post reports DHS has put into place a three-pronged strategy to address management and workforce issues, according to Catherine Emerson, DHS’ chief human capital officer. The first aspect mandates that all top officials prioritize employee engagement. The second element promotes better employee communication, training and employee recognition. The third part strengthens the leadership skills among DHS management.