Last week, the Office of Personnel Management published its annual Federal Employment Viewpoint Survey. More than 500,000 Federal employees were asked to participate in the survey, and more than 266,000 provided responses. The survey, which you can read in its entirety here, provides a “comprehensive and valuable picture of the opinions of the Federal workforce,” according to OPM.
Among the survey’s findings were that nearly 7 of 10 Federal employees recommend their organizations as good places to work, and 92 percent believe that the work they themselves do is important. More than 80 percent like the work they do; know how their work relates to agency goals and priorities; believe they are held accountable for achieving results; think their units do high quality work; and feel their supervisor treats them with respect.
On the negative side of the ledger, less than 50 percent of employees felt that their leaders generated high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce and were satisfied with the policies and practices of their senior leaders. And although 84 percent of employees feel they are personally held accountable for achieving results, 47 percent believe pay raises do not depend on performance; 41 percent believe poor performers in their organization are not dealt with, and 35 percent believe promotions are not based on merit.
As in every survey, some agencies did very well, while others did less well. The highest rated agency in the categories of leadership and knowledge management; results-oriented performance culture; talent management and job satisfaction was the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which got the highest rating in each of the four areas. Other “winners” included the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; the State Department; OPM itself; and the National Credit Union Administration.
OPM concluded that “despite potentially adverse scenarios (such as) shutdowns, pay freezes, furloughs, benefit reductions, budget cuts and negative public perceptions, Federal employees’ dedication and commitment remain high.” This agrees with what we at SAG are seeing in our work with a number of federal agencies—with this caveat: there are places, probably in every agency, where morale is nowhere near what it could, or should be.
We strongly believe that our training and leadership development programs have significantly improved both morale and performance everywhere they have been given, and that such training is essential for every federal agency if it is to adapt to the needs of the American people in the 21st century. As OPM writes, “competent, ethical and dedicated senior leaders who foster the confidence and the respect of the workforce are critical to agency success.”
Interestingly enough, however, while 65 percent of survey respondents feel they have opportunities to improve their skills at work, only 54 percent believe their training needs are properly assessed. If, as OPM also concludes, “leadership is getting better, but still has a ways to go,” the best way to travel this path is through rigorous and intensive leadership training.
We at SAG are curious, though: this survey is the product of 266,000 responses out of nearly 4.5 million federal employees. If you are a federal employee and were not surveyed, what do you think? What would you have told the surveyors about your level of job satisfaction, your thoughts about your workplace, and the quality of your organizations leaders? We promise we’ll maintain your anonymity, unless you’d prefer not to remain anonymous. Thanks!