Modest gains for most agencies in job satisfaction

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The agency-by-agency results from the Office of Personnel Management's Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey are out, and most agencies improved on their scores from last year.

In 2016, overall satisfaction among federal employees improved one percentage point governmentwide for the second consecutive year.

The two major indices measure "employee engagement" (employees' feelings about their job, organization and pay) and "global satisfaction" (how satisfied they are with their leaders and the work experience).

The average employee engagement score was 65 percent, and the average global satisfaction score was 61 percent. Just six of 37 large agencies experienced declines in their engagement scores, and seven of the 37 saw dips in their satisfaction scores.

Generally, small agencies performed better than large ones.

The Federal Trade Commission topped the employee engagement index with 82 percent -- an increase of four percentage points. It placed fifth on the other index.

NASA and the Office of Management and Budget were in the top three of large agencies for both indices. NASA scored 80 percent for employee engagement and 78 percent for global satisfaction, while OMB notched 78 percent for employee engagement and an agency-leading 79 percent for global satisfaction.

NASA and OMB employees expressed being least satisfied in the "leaders lead" and "pay satisfaction" categories.

The Securities and Exchange Commission boasted the largest increases on both indices. Its employee engagement score increased by five percentage points for a total of 73 percent, and a nine point surge in global satisfaction vaulted the agency into the top three at 77 percent.

Despite once again finishing last, the Department of Homeland Security posted increases on both indices and in its employee response rate. However, only 40 percent of DHS respondents reported being satisfied with their senior leaders.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors finished second-to-last on both indices and suffered a two-point decrease in employee engagement. Only 42 percent of BBG respondents were likely to recommend their agency as a good place to work, the lowest score across government.

One category that dropped considerably governmentwide was the employee response rate -- from 50 percent last year to 45.8 percent this year.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission tied OMB with a government-leading 82 percent response rate. However, the departments of Justice, Veterans Affairs and Defense -- three of the four largest agencies by employee count, according to a 2013 OPM report -- rounded out the bottom, with rates of 37 percent, 34 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

The data is available on OPM's dashboard.

OPM released preliminary survey results in September. A spokesperson told FCW that officials plan to release more detailed results later this week.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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Reader comments

Sat, Oct 8, 2016

If the VA's satisfaction numbers were reported as 34% somebody clearly fudged the numbers. Messing with the numbers - rounding way up - is something the VA does as an actual core value instead of a published core value, so I suspect that's how the number got that high. OI&T is the worst part of a terrible agency to work for, and the only people who could possibly be happy in their work are those who are allowed to hide in VACO or those who work for the CIO and are not subject to the pain of the decisions being made by the CIO. The only positive news is the CIO will be gone soon.

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