Federal Workforce 101 Series (Part I) - Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Proposal Impacts on Federal Workforce Engagement

Coming off the heels of the longest Federal Government shutdown in history last month, news of the President’s fiscal year 2020 budget proposal and the many proposed changes to Federal pay and benefits might feel a bit hard to swallow for many Federal workers. On top of an all-too-familiar proposal to freeze Federal pay, President Trump’s budget also called for significant funding cuts and reorganization of many Federal agencies or elimination of some programs, altogether.

Government experts and thought leaders across the board have been expressing increasing concern about the impact on employee engagement – which ultimately has a lasting effect on workers’ sense of purpose and how they display dedication and persistence as they carry out their daily duties on behalf of the American public. And while some of the new budget proposals and changes are intended to restructure and build a more efficient government, others may leave the Federal workforce feeling very uncertain about their future.

Federal program management training from Management Concepts
Source: U.S. Office of Personnel Management

When OPM released the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) results, interesting correlations were uncovered between higher levels of employee engagement and workers’ intent to stay, versus lower levels of engagement and their intent to leave – whether for another government job outside of their current agency or outside of the government altogether. This points to the inherent importance of enhancing employee engagement across the workforce, especially as increasing changes and proposed cuts continue to arise. As agency budgets decrease, so does the ability to recruit and hire new talent, making it difficult for agencies to meet one of the President’s Management Agenda’s CAP Goals – Developing a Workforce for the 21st Century – which requires increased employee engagement as well as simple and strategic hiring practices.

The 2018 FEVS data also revealed a (self-reported) 33% turnover rate over the next year. If that trend continues to tick upward, it could mean dire consequences to the way the government does business. Think about it, could your agency perform if an average of 3 out of 10 employees were to leave? How quickly would you be able to hire new talent to replace them?

      Source: U.S. Office of Personnel Management

The truth of the matter is that Federal employment has been consistently declining over the last few decades. Cuts to pay and benefits will make it even harder for agencies to bring in the right talent to perform the mission, let alone retain their high-performers.

Federal program management training from Management Concepts

We started 2019 with the labor market at full employment, and with record low unemployment numbers, employers of all types and sizes are feeling the pressure to find and retain the talent they need. American job seekers have a lot of options in this economy, and many are willing to forgo higher pay and benefits for more workplace flexibility, such as remote work and flexible schedules. Now more than ever, managers and leaders must continue their focus on empowering engagement and inspiring motivation among the Federal workforce. As leaders work to nurture a culture of engagement and mission efficacy, it’s imperative to seek out people and performance solutions that will help your agency remain mission-focused – no matter what challenges the FY2020 budget may bring.

For more tips and resources, stay tuned for the next blog in my Workforce 101 Series:Empowering an Engaged Workforce During Times of Change

Written by:
Mika J. Cross
Financial Management
Media Type:

Community of Change: Shaping and Shifting Culture
HR in the Federal Government: A Changing Landscape Part I: Challenges and Solutions to HR's Changing Priorities