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Many agency satisfaction scores stall or decline in FEVS

Two of the three major metrics for the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey improved over last year, but fewer agency-level scores improved than in recent years, particularly across the civilian side.

The governmentwide employee engagement score improved to 68 percent, reaching the highest level since 2011. The New IQ index, a measure of employee inclusion, also rose by 1 percent to 61 overall. The global satisfaction score, meanwhile, remained at 64 percent, despite dropping in every agency size category except agencies with more than 75,000 employees.

Within employee engagement, the Department of Energy enjoyed the biggest improvement, a two-point jump to a 72 percent. The Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services each improved their scores one point, reaching 69 and 73 percent, respectively.

Beyond these, this year's agency-by-agency scores show many agencies' pattern of improvement since 2014 has stalled, or even reversed. In general, agencies where scores dropped are those that have seen proposed budget cuts or other notable work-life policy changes.

Among agencies with at least 10,000 employees, just three improved their employee engagement over last year. By comparison, from both 2015 to 2016 and 2016 to 2017, 13 agencies improved.

The employee engagement score consists of three subgroups: leaders lead, supervisors and intrinsic work experience. The biggest dips came in "leaders lead," which increased one point, only for agencies of at least 75,000 employees -- on the backs of a two-point bump at the Department of Homeland Security and a one-point bump at HHS.

The Departments of Agriculture, Justice, Labor, Education, Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency all saw substantial decreases in the leaders lead subgroup since last year.

A similar trend occurred in global satisfaction as well: Four agencies with at least 10,000 employees improved since 2017. By comparison, 13 improved from between 2015 to 2016 and 2016 to 2017.

Agriculture was consistently down across each metric. USDA dropped three points in employee engagement, including five points in the leaders lead category. It also dropped six points in global satisfaction and three points in New IQ. Among agencies with at least 1,000 employees, Education, EPA and the National Labor Relations Board also saw steep declines.

At Education, employee engagement dropped 4 percent, including a seven-point drop in leaders lead to a 46. Education's global satisfaction score dropped 11 points to a 52, the sharpest drop at any agency with at least 1,000 employees. Its New IQ score dropped four points to a 58.

Small and very small agencies -- those with fewer than 1,000 and 100 employees --  saw the biggest across-the-board decreases in both employee engagement and satisfaction of any agency size. Employee engagement dropped 1 percent in both metrics, and global satisfaction dropped three and six percentage points respectively.

While response rates dropped considerably, more employees responded and were offered the chance to respond than previous years' surveys. The highest response rates came from smaller agencies.

Reader comments

Thu, Nov 8, 2018

Telework is just like the in office work. One has to have the ethics of determination that the individual is being paid their salary, second that there is work that can be accounted for, and that the individual who is telecommuting is honest and does what is needed. Yes there has been abuse of the teleworking option, but the individuals who abuse such a process and their direct manager should be terminated or demoted and fined for such activity. Do not slap honest hard workers in the face because there is some bad actors in the bunch. Telecommuting is desirable when certain situations arise.

Fri, Nov 2, 2018

Here is a simple way to increase employee retention, productivity, performance and overall success in the federal government......Commit to Accountability, there is very little of it from where I stand in the FBI. We work in state of cover your a$$. It has become an environment where everyone is selfishly only looking out for the better good of themselves. The mission is dead and gone. They have lost the People Always ethos. The best way to restore it is start with replacing so call leaders who fail to lead. Define to employees what exactly are their requirements and responsibilities, hold them accountable for them. Hold the Inspection staff accountable for reviewing their recommendations. Accountability in the FBI is a joke. I would wager it's the number one agency in low retention in all jobs. Work life programs have been abolished, Management creates hiding locations where they can disappear from the office. Collusion is evident in space management. It's a sad sad joke. Not what it used to be, no where near.

Fri, Nov 2, 2018

Employee satisfaction would increase if they decreased the number of do nothing, gender biased, management bloats who have bilked the system for bonuses, self-promotion and lack of quantifiable work while cheating rank and file employees out of fair performance evaluations, bonuses and promotions when they are earned. Management thinks it is entitled to all the perks while doing very little to forward the goals and mission of the agency they are working for, less management more positive outcomes will result over time.

Fri, Nov 2, 2018

Telework is a waste of taxpayer money. I hope every agency eliminates telework and remote work. very few people use the programs according to the rules. They instead use it when they are sick, don't have a babysitter, care for family member or just don't want to work. The rest of use have to use sick or annual leave to get time off. Production has greatly dropped with this program.

Thu, Nov 1, 2018

As a recently retired DOJ/FBI employee, I missed taking the survey, but had I taken the survey i would have expressed disgust with politicization of justice under the Trump Administration. There time when it seems renaming Justice to the Department of Injustice might be warranted.

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Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
Mathew B. Tully Legal Analyst

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