Federal Employees Weigh in on Pay, Shutdown in 2019 FEVS Results

The 2019 FEVS results are in and offer a glimpse into how federal employees feel about their jobs and pay.

The Office of Personnel Management has released the initial results from the 2019 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). Overall, federal employees reported being satisfied with their jobs but certain areas showed room for improvement.

FEVS Questions with Highest and Lowest Levels of Agreement

The table below shows the summary results for areas with the highest and lowest satisfaction scores.

Highest % of AgreementLowest % of Agreement
96%When needed I am willing to put in the extra effort to get a job done. (Q. 7)28%Pay raises depend on how well employees perform their jobs. (Q. 33)
91%I am constantly looking for ways to do my job better. (Q. 8)34%In my work unit, steps are taken to deal with a poor performer who cannot or will not improve. (Q. 23)
90%The work I do is important. (Q. 13)39%Promotions in my work unit are based on merit. (Q. 22)
85%I know how my work relates to the agency’s goals. (Q. 12)39%In my work unit, differences in performance are recog- nized in a meaningful way. (Q. 24)
84%How would you rate the overall quality of work done by your work unit? (Q. 28)41%I believe the results of this survey will be used to make my agency a better place to work. (Q. 41)
84%My supervisor treats me with respect. (Q. 49)41%How satisfied are you with your opportunity to get a better job in your organization? (Q. 67)
83%I like the kind of work I do. (Q. 5)44%My work unit is able to recruit people with the right skills. (Q. 21)
83%I am held accountable for achieving results. (Q. 16)44%Creativity and innovation are rewarded. (Q. 32)
82%My supervisor supports my need to balance work and other life issues. (Q. 42)45%In my organization, senior leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce. (Q. 53)
82%In the last six months, my supervisor has talked with me about my performance. (Q. 50)47%How satisfied are you with the policies and practices of your senior leaders? (Q. 66)


Clearly, one area in which federal employees showed a visible level of dissatisfaction was with regards to performance based pay raises since only 28% of respondents said that pay raises depend on how well employees perform their jobs.

Believe it or not, this is an improvement over past years. In 2015, only 21% said they were satisfied in this area, and the number has climbed in each year since.

But as for their salaries overall, federal employees felt better about things. In response to the question, “Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your pay?,” 63% answered in the affirmative. That number also has been increasing since 2015 at which time it was only 57%.

Impact of the 2019 Government Shutdown

One interesting addition that you don’t normally see in the annual survey was a section on the partial government shutdown. Since it was the longest shutdown in history, OPM obviously wanted to gauge the overall impact on the federal workforce.

The biggest specific negative impacts reported were delayed work, reduced customer service and missed deadlines. However, 45% of respondents said that the partial government shutdown had no effect on their everyday work.

Interestingly enough, over half of respondents (54%) said it had no impact on their work/pay status, but for the 46% of respondents that did experience an impact, they worked for some or all of the shutdown without pay until after the lapse or did not work and were not paid until after the lapse.

64% of FEVS respondents said that they either agree or strongly agree that their agencies provided needed support during the shutdown, and 71% said they are not currently looking for work because of the shutdown.

Will the Survey be Put to Use?

One comment I see frequently from FedSmith readers goes something like this: “The FEVS is a waste of time because agencies won’t take any action based on the results.”

The federal employees who took the survey obviously agree with this general sentiment. Only 41% said they think that “the results of this survey will be used to make my agency a better place to work.”

OPM has noticed this too. In the report, the agency’s director, Dale Cabaniss, called this statistic a “troubling trend” and said, “The evidence is pretty clear that there are some things we need to address.”

She went on to encourage agency leaders to use the data as a starting point for enacting change. She wrote:

I believe that the agencies that are most successful are those who use the data as starting points for analysis and action. It’s not about seeing percentages move but creating a more conducive environment for employment. I will look into these issues with the OPM FEVS results as data-based evidence prompting future action. I also think it is important to understand the broader picture; such as, how are an agency’s scores on these items linked to other work-related outcomes such as productivity and performance-related metrics? By focusing on these areas for improvement, our goal is to show the Federal workforce that their responses will be used to make their agency a better place to work.

About the Survey

All eligible employees across the Federal government were included in the survey. Invitations were sent to 1,443,152 employees and 615,395 employees responded, for a response rate of 42.6%.

Survey participants represent 83 agencies, ranging from department-level to large and small/independent agencies, across the Federal government. All full–time and part–time, permanent, non–seasonal employees were eligible to participate in the survey.

The document below includes the full details and breakdown of the 2019 FEVS summary results.

2019 Federal Employee Viewpoint Summary Report

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.