In a year when the federal government lost ground on central job satisfaction indicators such as employee engagement and morale, several smaller agencies consistently measured near the top of the annual survey questions underlying these results.
Last week, the Office of Human Resources Management published the results of a survey of federal employees last fall, which found that overall employee engagement and job satisfaction declined slightly in 2021, probably in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impending transition. to traditional work sites.
But as part of its efforts to streamline the way the administration is administered and analyzed, so that from the beginning of this year it can be administered in the traditional spring survey period, OPM provided data for each agency measuring traditional indices such as employee engagement and global satisfaction, instead only disclosing how certain agencies perform individual questionnaires. And OPM cut responses from small agencies into one category.
Addressing several key survey issues related to employee morale and engagement, four small and medium-sized agencies dominated, ranking in the top five in each issue and well above the government average. The National Science Foundation, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the General Services Administration and the Pension Benefits Guarantee Corporation are among the top five in terms of employee satisfaction, the ability of senior executives to motivate the workforce and whether employees believe that their agency will use the results of a survey of federal officials to improve the workplace.
NSF Chief Human Resources Officer and Head of the Information and Resource Management Office Wonzi Gardner said the key to his agency’s success was ongoing open dialogue with staff. But he noted that the approach is progressing much more slowly in large agencies.
“One of the things we did was that we were very open, transparent and honest in our discussions,” Gardner said. “We told employees in real time what we know, and more importantly, we told them what we didn’t know. We had to be creative to provide with them during the pandemic. Our employees knew this and our results are proof that health, safety and well-being [the workforce] it was paramount for everything we did. “
But on the other hand, four agencies have consistently come close to the bottom on these same issues. The Department of Homeland Security, the Social Security Administration, as well as the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of State have found themselves in the last five of at least two of these three issues.
A State Department spokesman said in a statement that while his presentation on job satisfaction issues and whether the department would use the results of the job improvement survey was in line with government-wide trends, officials’ views on the ability to work. leadership to motivate them is constantly improving over the years.
“Over the last five years, we have seen a steady, gradual increase in the response to this question,” the spokesman said. “The positive percentage was 37.2% in 2017 and rose to 49.8% in 2021 – which includes a 7% increase between 2020 and 2021, which puts the department’s performance slightly above the government average. The results were promising and a direct result of the actions of our top leaders. “
The Social Security Administration blamed its poor performance on the lack of funding, which spokesman Mark Hinkle said contributed to burnout and other factors that reduced employee morale.
“Chronic underfunding is detrimental to our success and the experience of our employees,” Hinkle said. “For example, the final budget for this year from Congress was $ 850 billion less than the president’s budget, which forced us to postpone the planned hiring, which would relieve our workers. We now have the lowest number of employees in over 25 years. This will increase the waiting time of our service customers, extend the processing time and increase the waiting workload. Our employees feel the weight of these challenges. We continue to learn and appreciate how we can fulfill our mission and support our employees, including through increased telecommuting. “
The best and lowest agencies on selected questions from the survey were:
All things considered, how satisfied are you with your work?
1. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: 84.8% agree or completely agree
2. National Science Foundation, 83.3%
3. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 81.7%
4. Administration of general services, 81.1%
5. Commission for Equal Employment Opportunities, 79.2%
30. Ministry of Agriculture, 64.7%
31. State Department, 63.8%
32. Ministry of Justice, 62.3%
33. Social Security Administration, 61.5%
34. Internal Security Department, 60.2%
In my organization, senior leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment to the workforce.
1. National Science Foundation, 73.9% agree or completely agree
2. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 70.6%
3. Corporation for guaranteeing pension benefits, 70.6%
4. Administration of general services, 69.6%
5. Commission for Equal Employment Opportunities, 65.1%
30. Internal Affairs Department, 42.6%
31. Social Security Administration, 42.5%
32. Internal Security Department, 41.9%
33. Federal Trade Commission, 41.5%
34. Ministry of Justice, 40.6%
I believe that the results of this study will be used to make my agency a better place to work.
1. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 72.4%
2. National Science Foundation, 71.7%
3. Corporation for guaranteeing pension benefits, 66.7%
4. Administration of general services, 64.9%
5. National Administration of the Credit Union, 64.1%
30. Ministry of Agriculture, 37.9%
31. National Council for Labor Relations, 37%
32. Department of Defense (excluding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and branches of military service), 35.9%
33. State Department, 35.8%
34. Ministry of Justice, 31.0%
Although OPM avoids its traditional calculation of employee engagement and global satisfaction indices on an agency-by-agency basis, the NGO Public Services Partnership confirmed last week that it will continue to conduct its own analysis of survey results to generate its annual results. better places to work in the federal government report “in the coming months”.
“The Federal Employee Survey is one of the best tools available to understand the experience of federal civil servants,” said partnership president Max Steer. “The results of the 2021 FEVS are particularly important in identifying opportunities to modernize and improve federal labor management practices, especially as we continue to address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.