Critical Read

How bosses and workers see the federal workplace

Placeholder Image for Article Template

The question of whether employees' workloads are reasonable was one of only two in the survey where workers' views (inner pie chart) were more positive than managers' (outer band).

What: "Positioned for Change: Understanding Staff/Manager Alignment" from the Partnership for Public Service.

Why: Federal managers and employees do not necessarily view their organizations the same way. Managers typically have more positive impressions of workplace culture and tone than rank-and-file employees do. But extremely divergent impressions of the workplace can point to problems, according to the Partnership for Public Service's analysis of Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey data.

Across government, divergent views are found in areas of fairness and equity, with nearly half of managers believing that promotions are based on merit while barely a quarter of employees say the same. That is perhaps unsurprising given that many of the surveyed staffers might have sought and been denied promotions, and those same employees have a different impression of managerial merit than do the managers themselves.

Employees and managers also have strikingly different views on the impact of partisan politics in the workplace and employees' opportunities to take on leadership roles.

The partnership has created a metric to measure the divergence between employees' and managers' views on an agency-by-agency basis. A negative score means an unusually large gap. The Securities and Exchange Commission had the lowest score, with -36. Other low-scoring agencies include the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (-29), the National Archives and Records Administration (-26), the Education Department (-25) and the National Science Foundation (-24). The Labor Department and the Social Security Administration were the only large agencies to post negative scores.

Top performers include the Commerce Department (38), the Agriculture Department (35), the State Department (35) and the Navy (29).

It is interesting to note that an agency's overall score on the partnership's Best Places to Work in the Federal Government list does not necessarily match staff/manager alignment. Some agencies with the most divergent staff and manager perceptions scored in the mid ranks on the Best Places list, as did several agencies with high staff/manager alignment scores. In other words, just because employees and managers share similar views of the workplace, it doesn't mean what they're seeing is good.

Verbatim: "Of the 44 questions included in this Best Places to Work analysis, staff responded more positively than managers in only two instances. More employees feel that their workloads are reasonable (an 8.6 point gap between staff and managers) and that they have sufficient resources to get their jobs done (a 9.3 point gap). These findings could indicate that managers are feeling a great deal of stress in trying to accomplish their mission goals with limited resources."

Full report: OurPublicService.org

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group