Despite overall increase, many agency satisfaction scores stall or decline in FEVS

happy, sad, indifferent faces with checkbox (shutterstock) 

Two of the three major metrics for the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey improved over last year, but fewer agency-level scores improved than in recent years, particularly across the civilian side.

The governmentwide employee engagement score improved to 68 percent, reaching the highest level since 2011. The New IQ index, a measure of employee inclusion, also rose by 1 percent to 61 overall. The global satisfaction score, meanwhile, remained at 64 percent, despite dropping in every agency size category except agencies with more than 75,000 employees.

Within employee engagement, the Department of Energy enjoyed the biggest improvement, a two-point jump to a 72 percent. The Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services each improved their scores one point, reaching 69 and 73 percent, respectively.

Beyond these, this year's agency-by-agency scores show many agencies' pattern of improvement since 2014 has stalled, or even reversed. In general, agencies where scores dropped are those that have seen proposed budget cuts or other notable work-life policy changes.

Among agencies with at least 10,000 employees, just three improved their employee engagement over last year. By comparison, from both 2015 to 2016 and 2016 to 2017, 13 agencies improved.

The employee engagement score consists of three subgroups: leaders lead, supervisors and intrinsic work experience. The biggest dips came in "leaders lead," which increased one point, only for agencies of at least 75,000 employees -- on the backs of a two-point bump at the Department of Homeland Security and a one-point bump at HHS.

The Departments of Agriculture, Justice, Labor, Education, Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency all saw substantial decreases in the leaders lead subgroup since last year.

A similar trend occurred in global satisfaction as well: Four agencies with at least 10,000 employees improved since 2017. By comparison, 13 improved from between 2015 to 2016 and 2016 to 2017.

Agriculture was consistently down across each metric. USDA dropped three points in employee engagement, including five points in the leaders lead category. It also dropped six points in global satisfaction and three points in New IQ. Among agencies with at least 1,000 employees, Education, EPA and the National Labor Relations Board also saw steep declines.

At Education, employee engagement dropped 4 percent, including a seven-point drop in leaders lead to a 46. Education's global satisfaction score dropped 11 points to a 52, the sharpest drop at any agency with at least 1,000 employees. Its New IQ score dropped four points to a 58.

Small and very small agencies -- those with fewer than 1,000 and 100 employees --  saw the biggest across-the-board decreases in both employee engagement and satisfaction of any agency size. Employee engagement dropped 1 percent in both metrics, and global satisfaction dropped three and six percentage points respectively.

While response rates dropped considerably, more employees responded and were offered the chance to respond than previous years' surveys. The highest response rates came from smaller agencies.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a former FCW staff writer.


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