Who decides the “best places to work”? Employees who walk through the doors each morning? Third-party organizations who don’t even know what the lobby looks like? In a recent ranking of large agencies in the federal government by BestPlacesToWork.org, VA came in at number 18, one spot below the United States Army. Having served in both organizations, I can confidently say that VA, like the Army, is what you make it.
VA is my second career, previously spending 20 years in the US Army and five years with a small employer. Because I entered the Army at age 18 with nothing but a high school diploma, I naturally have a bit of a soft spot for it. I credit everything I have today, and have received since 1983, to Army benefits.
I’ve been with VA for eight years, and in that time, I’ve learned every organization goes through seasons. That’s how they grow – and lists like the one mentioned here don’t often seem to take that into account.
My first few years with VA were summer: The people, the morale and the job satisfaction were all incredible, fun and full of activity. Because my department was on the innovation side of VA, we did amazing things and made a difference in people’s lives. While we still do, things now are feeling a bit slower – a bit more like fall and winter. Some people may not choose winter as their favorite season, but when it comes to work, I do. Winter gives us time to prepare and recover. It replenishes the soil, the soul and an organization. Even though organizations are expected to operate at summer speed all year, fall and winter should be expected, and even welcomed. After all, spring is when everything becomes new again. It’s an organization’s time to shine.
My trust in seasons is why I’m so optimistic about VA. In smaller organizations, it can be easier to address the concerns of all employees and customers. Conversely, in larger companies, there will rarely be a time when an area is not challenged. That’s when the seasons come in. When I’m in my spring and another department is in the middle of winter, I help with the extra demand.
Organizations succeed when we all count on and help each other, so don’t let the media or any “best of…” lists dictate your attitude or perceptions. Dig in, do the research, and find out how VA can help you succeed at www.VAcareers.va.gov. This is myVA.