Morale At Washington’s Biggest State Agency Plummets

May 7, 2012

The Great Recession has taken its toll on morale at Washington’s largest state agency. Employee satisfaction at the Department of Social and Health Services has plummeted over the past couple of years. That’s according to a new employee survey.

DSHS is not only a large agency, it deals with some of Washington’s most vulnerable populations: abused and neglected children, the mentally ill and the elderly. So here’s the top line summary of how employees who do that sensitive work are feeling. Quote: “In the eleven years ... there has never been such a dramatic drop in morale and employee engagement.” Among the chief complaints: pay and benefits are down and workloads are up. DSHS spokesman Thomas Shapley says the discontent is not a surprise.

Thomas Shapley: “Widespread staff reductions, we’ve got increasing caseloads over the last couple of years with the Great Recession, we’ve had pay cuts and a lot of changes.”

Another complaint from some inside the agency: when it comes to layoffs decisions are based on seniority not ability. On the up side more than 60-percent of DSHS employees still say they are generally satisfied with their job.

On the web: DSHS Employee Survey: