The House of Representatives passed legislation yesterday that aims to boost the morale of employees working at the Department of Homeland Security.
The DHS Morale Act (H.R. 2283) was introduced by Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS).
Employee Awards Program
One of the key provisions of the bill is to establish an awards program to recognize employees or groups of employees for significant contributions to the achievement of the agency’s goals and missions.
The bill dictates that if such a program were established, the DHS Secretary would establish categories of awards, each with specific criteria, that emphasizes honoring employees who are at the non-supervisory level and also publicize how employees could be nominated for such awards.
It also says that an internal review board would be created to submit to the Secretary award recommendations regarding specific employees or groups of employees.
The bill would also create an employee engagement steering committee that would identify factors that have a negative impact on employee engagement, morale, and communications within the agency. The bill says examples of these might include perceptions about limitations on career progression, mobility, or development opportunities.
The steering committee would also identify, develop, and distribute initiatives and best practices to improve employee engagement and morale using methods such as annual employee surveys, questionnaires, and other communications.
A History of Morale Problems
DHS has been in the spotlight because of recent employee morale problems at the agency. It scored last in recent Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results in the realm of employee engagement, although in last year’s results it had shown an improvement over the previous year.