Feds’ job satisfaction climbs in latest survey

Results from the Office of Personnel Management’s annual employee survey indicates federal employee job satisfaction climbed during pandemic.

The most recent Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey was postponed twice last year because of COVID’s disruption of the workforce. When the survey was finally released in September, it included new sections on the pandemic while the usual recurring sections were streamlined.

The 624,800 feds from 82 agencies who participated generally rated their experiences highly. The governmentwide global satisfaction went up four points to 69%. The overall employee engagement index, an average of three sections focused on employees' relationship with their supervisors, perception of agency leadership and work experience, went up to 72%, from 68% in 2019. 

Kim Wells, the managing research psychologist at the survey analysis group at OPM, said she was "surprised" about the increases, given the pandemic. "I have to say, I did have the staff pull down the data again and clean it all over again," she said during a press briefing on the 2020 FEVS.

Federal employees "are very, very focused on the mission and doing work that we feel is meaningful and significant,” she said “Even if everything is horrible around that, to the extent that an employee actually feels that they're able to make that contribution, it'll still show up in positive scores on things like satisfaction. I think that's what we're seeing here."

Peak telework

During the peak of the pandemic, 59% of respondents said that they were mostly working from somewhere other than their agency worksite, as compared to 3% working away from the agency office before the pandemic.

"It's really hard to overstate what a sweeping change that is," Wells said.

That doesn't mean the pandemic didn't present difficulties as well. Twenty-three percent of respondents said the pandemic was either extremely or very disruptive to their ability to do their work, and 48% said their demands increased because of the pandemic.

Nonetheless, telework is generally tied to higher employee higher employee engagement and satisfaction, Wells said.

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Natalie Alms is a staff writer at FCW covering the federal workforce. She is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and has written for the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.

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