Building Trust & Effectiveness in Congress
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Life in Congress

Project Overview 

The “Life in Congress” project is a partnership between CMF and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The novel research series has two goals:

  1. Identify the factors that motivate employees in the Washington, D.C., and district/state offices. By determining what staff feel is most important to their job satisfaction and engagement, we can offer guidance to improve congressional operations. This could help managers identify ways to retain top talent longer, reduce the burden of having to constantly hire and train employees, and enhance services provided to constituents.
  2. Shed some light on Congress as a workplace. What is it like to work for a Member of Congress? What it is like to be a Member of Congress? How does Congress, as a workplace, compare to the private sector? In our experience, the inner workings of individual congressional offices, as well as the job duties of Members and their staff, are typically misunderstood. This project attempts to offer insight into the challenges faced by congressional staff and Members.

To achieve these objectives, CMF and SHRM surveyed a random sample of Members of the House of Representatives and surveyed all House and Senate personal office staff. More than 1,400 staff and 25 Members of Congress participated in the research.

The resulting data was published in three reports:

  1. “Life in Congress: Aligning Work and Life in the U.S. House and Senate,” (October 2012) focuses on the work-life issues of House and Senate staff. It offers an inside look at the workloads of staff and their struggles in managing the multiple demands of work, family and personal responsibilities.
  2. "Life in Congress: The Member Perspective," (March 2013) focuses on the job of Members of the House of Representatives from the legislator’s perspective. It offers the first view of the challenges lawmakers face in managing the demands of constituents, interacting with colleagues, overseeing a staff, and still having a home life.
  3. "Life in Congress: Job Satisfaction and Engagement of House and Senate Staff," (September 2013) reveals what House and Senate value most about their workplace.

Additionally, CMF and SHRM will offer specialized training sessions to congressional staff in 2014 to assist staff in aligning work and life issues. CMF and SHRM also will conduct research in 2014 building case studies and identifying best practices in work-flex policies in House and Senate offices.

Related Research

Managing Changes in Budgets and Benefits

To help offices manage recent changes in their budgets and staff benefits, CMF conducted a survey of House and Senate Chiefs of Staff and District/State Directors in November-December 2013. The resulting data was presented to senior managers in a one-hour webinar that discussed the findings, their implications on staff retention and the work environment, and options for managers to address and manage these changes. Read more