Survey: Congressional Staff Dissatisfied With Work-Life Flexibility

 -  10/24/12

Just 26 percent of congressional staffers are satisfied with the flexibility provided in their work, according to a recent survey.

Washington — Oct. 24

U.S. House and Senate staff members value flexibility to balance life and work issues, but fewer than one in four is satisfied with the flexibility afforded them, a gap that is more pronounced than in the private sector, according to a research report released today by the Congressional Management Foundation and the Society for Human Resource Management.

In a look at Congress as a workplace, the research report — “Life in Congress: Aligning Work and Life in the U.S. House and Senate” — showed that 55 percent of congressional staff members said the flexibility to balance life and work issues is very important. At the same time, only 26 percent of them were very satisfied with the flexibility provided in their work.

This compares to 38 percent of U.S. employees who said in the SHRM 2011 Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey that flexibility was very important and 33 percent who said they were very satisfied with their flexibility.

The survey of more than 1,400 people who work in the U.S. House and Senate was released at the second annual Workflex Conference hosted by SHRM and the Families and Work Institute in Chicago.

When asked about reasons they would leave their work in Congress, 38 percent cited “seeking a better balance between work and personal life.”

The inside look also revealed that congressional staff are very committed to their jobs. Seventy-five percent of the respondents said the meaningfulness of their jobs was very important to them — as opposed to 35 percent of U.S. employees as a whole.

Congressional staff again differentiated themselves from other U.S. employees on the importance they place on office culture. Forty-six percent of U.S. employees cited overall corporate culture as being very important to their job satisfaction, with 27 percent very satisfied with their corporate culture.

The research also showed:

• Congressional staff members — in Washington and in district and state offices — work more than 40 hours a week. Washington staff, for example, report working 53 hours a week when the House and Senate are in session.

• Many congressional staff members believe that they don’t have enough time to perform assigned tasks. Thirty-three percent disagreed with the statement “I usually have enough time to get everything done.”

• Many also feel that the quality of work is suffering under the workload, with 28 percent agreeing with the statement “I have too much to do to do everything well.”

Survey respondents included both Democrats (55 percent) and Republicans (43 percent). Seventy-two percent of the respondents worked in the House of Representatives, and 28 percent worked in the Senate.

Source: The Society for Human Resource Management

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