How Do Federal Employees Feel About Their Pay and Jobs?

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By on October 26, 2018 in Human Resources with 0 Comments
Laptop computer with an indifferent, sad, and happy smiley emojis in the screen depicting employee job satisfaction ratings

The results from the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey show that federal employees are happier with their pay overall but not so much with merit based pay raises.

The Office of Personnel Management has released the government-wide results of the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey which provide a look at federal employees’ overall satisfaction with their jobs, pay, and agency management.

Pay

The results indicate that overall, federal employees are more satisfied with their pay when compared to past years. In response to the question, “Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your pay?” the response rate was 63% positive. Last year, it was 61% positive and was only 56% positive in 2014.

However, one of the lowest positive responses from the survey was regarding pay raises. Only 26% gave a positive response to the question, “Pay raises depend on how well employees perform their jobs.”

Highest and Lowest Ratings

Other high marks were given to questions regarding overall job satisfaction. For instance, federal employees said “When needed I am willing to put in the extra effort to get a job done” (96%), “I am constantly looking for ways to do my job better” (91%), and “The work I do is important” (90%).

Lower ratings were given around areas regarding management related issues such as dealing with poor performers and merit based promotions. Only 37% gave a positive rating to the question “Promotions in my work unit are based on merit” and 32% rated positively the question “In my work unit, steps are taken to deal with a poor performer who cannot or will not improve.”

Table from the 2018 FEVS results showing questions with the highest and lowest levels of agreement

Other Highlights

The overall global satisfaction percentage from the survey was 64%, the same as last year. The global satisfaction is an average of the job, pay, and organizational satisfaction ratings as well as whether or not employees recommend their organization.

Table showing the global satisfaction percentages from the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey

Despite some of the positive indications from the survey, only 41% of respondents believe the results of the FEVS will be used to make their agency a better place to work.

OPM Acting Director Margaret Weichert said in a statement:

Our employees continue to feel positive overall about their work experience and feel invested in doing a good job; 90 percent of our workforce believes the work they do is important.

Unfortunately, our people also continue to feel that the Federal Government fails to fully align with Merit System Principles when measuring performance against rewards; only 26 percent of our people believe pay raises depend on positive performance.

Although the five-year trend for FEVS responses is moving in a positive direction, we cannot stop here and must continue to engage in dialogue with our workforce on how to enhance employee engagement. We have critical work to do in order to build a modern workforce designed to meet the needs of Americans in the 21st century.

Partnership for Public Service President and CEO Max Stier said in a statement about the survey results:

While there has been progress in employee engagement during the past few years, the government still lags well behind the private sector. All agencies, from the top performers to those doing poorly, need to focus on improving the management of our government’s most important asset—its employees. Thank you to OPM and the entire Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey team for the vital work that goes in to making the annual undertaking possible.

Survey Response Rate

The overall response rate to the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey dropped off considerably compared to past years. With a government-wide response rate of 40.6%, this represents the lowest turnout in the last five years.

Small and very small agencies had the highest response rates among federal agencies. A total of 598,003 federal employees responded to this year’s survey.

The Department of Veterans Affairs did not participate in this year’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and instead conducted its own independent employee satisfaction survey which is likely a factor in the lower overall response rate.

Table showing the government-wide response rates to the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey

The complete summary of the government-wide results from the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey are included below.

2018 FEVS Government-wide Survey Results

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About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.

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