Which Agencies Have the Most Satisfied Employees?

How satisfied are you with your job as a federal employee, and how do you compare to others? New data from the Office of Personnel Management’s 2016 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey provide some insights.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is now releasing data from the 2016 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The initial data show which federal agencies have the happiest overall employees as well as the most engaged. OPM said it plans to release more data from the survey in October.

First, some definitions:

OPM says that the Global Satisfaction Index “measures job, organizational, and pay satisfaction, as well as whether or not an employee would recommend their agency as a good place to work.”

It defines employee engagement as a model based on three factors: leaders lead, supervisors, and intrinsic work experience. Employees who say that “leaders lead,” for instance, would say, “In my organization, senior leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce.”

And with respect to supervisors, employees who are more engaged would say things like, “My supervisor listens to what I have to say” or “My supervisor treats me with respect.”

With those concepts in mind, here is a breakdown of how federal agencies scored on both employee engagement and global satisfaction.

Note that the salary data listed are from the latest available data for each agency from FedsDataCenter.com and are not part of the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results. Coincidentally or not, the agencies with the highest salaries often finish near the top of each category measured.

Global Satisfaction

Top Five Agencies

Agency Score Average Salary
Office of Management and Budget 79% $120,632
National Aeronautics and Space Administration 78% $118,499
Securities and Exchange Commission 77% $173,587
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 76% $115,890
Federal Trade Commission 74% $123,860

Bottom Five Agencies

Agency Score Average Salary
National Labor Relations Board 61% $103,974
Department of the Treasury 60% N/A
Department of Veterans Affairs 58% $117,846
National Archives and Records Administration 57% $67,679
Small Business Administration 56% $86,061

Employee Engagement

Top Five Agencies

Agency Score Average Salary
Federal Trade Commission 82% $123,860
National Aeronautics and Space Administration 80% $118,499
Office of Management and Budget 78% $120,632
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 77% $115,890
Nuclear Regulatory Commission 74% $122,158

Bottom Five Agencies

Agency Score Average Salary
Department of the Interior 63% N/A
Small Business Administration 63% $86,061
Department of Veterans Affairs 62% $117,846
Broadcasting Board of Governors 56% $101,198
Department of Homeland Security 56% $115,153*

* DHS Headquarters

The Department of Homeland Security gets special mention because its secretary, Jeh Johnson, released a statement today touting the improvement in the agency’s results. Johnson noted that after six years of declining scores, the agency finally posted higher scores, going from 53% last year to 56% this year. While true, it still ranked dead last in the list OPM published, so apparently the agency still has some work to do.

“This is no anomaly,” said Johnson. “It is regarded by OPM as statistically significant, and compares favorably to the 1% increase across the entire U.S. government. This increased morale at DHS was the result of some very hard work, and is the largest increase of any Cabinet Department our size. Hopefully, these improved results are the beginning of a new, upward trend.”

There were a total of 407,789 responses to the survey this year, down from 421,748 last year. Employee engagement overall was 65% and the global satisfaction score was 61%; both are 1% higher than last year’s scores.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.