With substantial changes being proposed across the federal workforce, we’re in an unsettling time. Are the changes in the President’s Management Agenda aimed at gutting merit systems protections? Have leaders concluded that the federal workforce is standing in the way of progress?
Margaret Weichert, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget and Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management, says no. “One of the things I have tried to make absolutely clear is that the workforce is part of the solution,” she recently told Government Matters. “The workforce is not our problem in government.”
As evidence, she cited one of the results from the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, which was released last week. According to the survey results, 90 percent of federal employees surveyed said they work they do is important. 91 percent said they were constantly looking for ways to do their jobs better. Fully 96 percent said they were willing to put in extra effort when needed to get the job done.
Other positive results included:
- 83 percent said they were held accountable for achieving results
- 81 percent said their supervisor supports the need for work/life balance
- 84 percent said their supervisor treats them with respect
Overall, the global satisfaction score and the underlying individual scores appear to be on a positive trend. The global satisfaction score is the average of the scores in four categories: job satisfaction, pay satisfaction, organizational satisfaction and whether employees would recommend their organization. Globally and in all four categories the five-year trend is positive.
At the same time, federal employees seem to have noticed some of the same issues that leadership is concerned about, which is a lack of alignment with the merit systems principles:
- Only 46 percent said awards in their work units depended on performance
- Only 43 percent said creativity and innovation are rewarded
- Only 38 percent said individuals’ performance is recognized in a meaningful way
- Only 37 percent said promotions are based on merit
- Only 32 percent said steps are taken to deal with poor performers
- Only 26 percent said pay raises are based on employee performance
Interestingly, the response rate in 2018 dropped off considerably in comparison with previous years. Only 40.6 percent of federal employees responded; the lowest response rate in five years. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs dropped out of the survey this year in favor of its own employee satisfaction survey, which may have affected the response rate.
Do you think the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey provides an accurate measure of concerns among federal employees?