When in session, Congress members work an average of 70 hours a week, which mostly involves legislative and constituent responsibilities rather than politics, they say, according to a report released by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Congressional Management Foundation.
The responses in this report come from 25 members of the U.S. House of Representatives along with augmented with focus groups, interviews and data collected by the CMF.
“This report paints a picture of life as a member of Congress somewhat different than the one usually portrayed to the public,” says Bradford Fitch, president and CEO of CMF and report contributor. “Members seem to be energized by their work, reporting that they are devoted to public service and are motivated by their contributions to society.”
House members spend an average of 35 percent of a typical week on legislative and policy work while in session in Washington, and 32 percent of their time is concentrated on constituent services work when in the district. Between 17 and 18 percent of their time is spent on political and campaign work at all times. Members reported reducing their work hours on average to 59 hours a week during district work periods or congressional recesses.
Respondents report feeling positive about their staff members. In fact, 95 percent of respondent say their staff members understand and are motivated by what they as an office are trying to achieve.
“Like other CEOs, members of Congress need the best people,” says Mike Aitken, vice president of government affairs for SHRM. “They view a strong staff as invaluable resource to serving the needs of constituents.”
When it comes to job effectiveness, staying in touch with constituents is rated as the most critical component by 95 percent of respondents, and 85 percent of respondents say they are satisfied with this part of their jobs.
Regarding job satisfaction, the top contributors are feeling that they perform an important public service and feeling invested in the work they do at 84 percent with 89 percent being satisfied and understanding how their jobs contribute to society as a whole at 75 percent with 90 percent being satisfied. Sixty-eight percent of respondents say spending time with family is important for job satisfaction, but only 16 percent say they are satisfied with this.