A recent study found that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the second worst government agency to work for, according to employee surveys. An additional survey taken of U.S. government workers revealed that within the VA, employees at the Phoenix VA seem pretty discontent with their leadership and job atmosphere.
Senior leadership at the Phoenix VA has been a problem since the wait list scandal broke in 2014. Since then there have been seven directors of this facility, several with checkered pasts at the VA, and these survey results reflect this lack of decent leadership in Phoenix. Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed responded negatively to the phrase, “My organization’s senior leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity.” More employees disagreed with that statement than agreed with it. Additionally, 42 percent disagreed with their senior leadership ‘generate[ing] high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce.’ Those are high numbers of employees believing their “leaders” don’t promote honesty and commitment in the workplace. And when senior leadership fails, even the hardest working employees can’t do their jobs effectively.
Along with poor management are the poorly performing employees. Over half of those surveyed disagreed with the statement that steps are taken “to deal with poor performers who cannot or will not improve.” Almost half of those surveyed also responded negatively to whether pay raises are based on job performance. This year the VA was discovered to have awarded more than $177 million in bonuses to its employees based on inaccurate performance metrics, so it’s no surprise employees feel this way.
The survey goes more in depth on communication issues, doubts in leadership and fear of retaliation for whistleblowing (31 percent disagree that they could fearlessly blow the whistle, by the way) and it’s worth a read. Despite the facility’s $28 million budget increase for 2017 and Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson’s monthly visits to track progress, the Phoenix VA can’t seem to get its act together.
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