What Can We Learn From The 2015 Employee Viewpoint Survey?

The 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results were recently released by the Office of Personnel Management. The author notes that agency leaders take the survey results seriously, even if employees find it hard to draw relationships between the survey results and agency responses. He highlights the highest and lowest positive scores across the six main categories of questions from the survey.

Most large organizations now conduct some sort of employee survey and the federal government is no exception.

The federal government’s annual Employee Viewpoint Survey results are taken seriously by top managers in the federal government, even if employees find it hard to draw relationships between the survey results and agency responses.

OPM has now released a Governmentwide Management Report that provides a more detailed reflection of federal employees’ views on a number of work-related issues as expressed by the 2015 EVS.

The 2015 EVS results fall into six categories with the statement gathering the highest overall positive response being: When needed I am willing to put in the extra effort to get a job done. This statement resulted in a 96 percent positive response.

The lowest response came to the statement: Pay raises depend on how well employees perform their jobs, with only a 21 percent positive response.

In their management report, OPM itself notes that the statement with the largest decrease in positive responses over both the past two years (down 4 percentage points) and three years (down 5 percentage points) was: My organization’s senior leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity.

Overall, 421,748 federal workers responded to the survey out of a sample 848,237. With a federal workforce of about 2.1 million, excluding postal service employees, this means that about 20 percent of the federal workforce participated in the survey, which was weighted to represent the entire federal employee population.

While employee surveys can be beneficial, they are only one tool to judge how people are thinking about their jobs. For example, the Office of Personnel Management characterized the 2015 EVS results as showing slight improvements in both employee engagement and overall satisfaction. At the same time, both contributions and employee participation rates in the government’s annual Combined Federal Campaign continue to fall, and this can also be seen as an indicator of federal employee engagement.

As noted in a recent article in the Financial Times, “even with all their drawbacks, questionnaires are the best bad way for directors to find out what people they are never likely to meet actually think. Now they just need to act on what they learn.” OPM’s Employee Viewpoint Survey should be viewed in this context.

Below are the statements and questions that scored highest and lowest positive responses in each of the six categories in the 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.

Category 1. My Work Experience

When needed I am willing to put in the extra effort to get a job done. = 96% positive response

In my work unit, steps are taken to deal with a poor performer who cannot or will not improve. = 28% positive response

Category 2. My Agency

Employees are protected from health and safety hazards on the job. = 76% positive response

My organization has prepared employees for potential security threats. = 76% positive response (tied)

Pay raises depend on how well employees perform their jobs. = 21% positive response

Category 3. My Supervisor

My supervisor treats me with respect. = 81% positive response

My supervisor provides me with constructive suggestions to improve my job performance. = 61% positive response

Category 4. Leadership

Supervisors work well with employees of different backgrounds. = 63% positive response

In my organization, senior leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce. = 39% positive response

Category 5. My Satisfaction

Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your job? = 65% positive response

How satisfied are you with your opportunity to get a better job in your organization? = 35% positive response

Category 6. Work/Life Programs

Alternative Work Schedules (AWS). = 89% positive response

Elder Care Programs (for example, support groups, speakers). = 66% positive response

About the Author

Michael Wald is a public affairs consultant and writer based in the Atlanta area. He specializes in topics related to government and labor issues. Prior to his retirement from the U.S. Department of Labor, he served as the agency’s Southeast Regional Director of Public Affairs and Southeast Regional Economist.