How Do Federal Employees Feel About Their Pay and Jobs?

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

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.


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.”

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

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of 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.