Is the tide turning for government employee satisfaction? Perhaps, according to the most recent numbers from the 2015 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings. Government-wide, federal employee job satisfaction and commitment increased 1.2 points from 2014, for a score of 58.1 out of 100.
Produced by the Partnership for Public Service and sponsored by Deloitte, the 2015 Best Places to Work rankings include the views of more than 433,300 civil servants from 391 federal organizations on a wide range of workplace topics. This includes the views of more than 421,700 employees who complete the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and employees from nine agencies such as the Peace Corps, Smithsonian, and the intelligence community who complete surveys with comparable questions.
Among individual federal organizations, 70.4 percent saw their overall employee satisfaction and commitment ratings increase in 2015, compared with 43.1 percent in 2014 and 24 percent in 2013. Specifically, 73.7 percent of large agencies, 79.2 percent of mid-size agencies, 64.3 percent of small agencies and 70 percent of the subcomponents experienced an increase in employee satisfaction in 2015.
The improvement in federal employee satisfaction from 2014 to 2015 may be the result of several factors, including an end to three years of pay freezes and a rebound by the workforce from events such as the 2013 sequestration, the partial government shutdown that resulted in the furlough of more than 800,000 employees.
The 2015 government-wide data show increases in employee satisfaction in all of the 10 workplace categories examined. The biggest increases came in the categories of training and development, which had a score of 57.5 out of 100—increasing nearly 2 points from the 2014 score of 55.7.
Within the leadership category, the rating for senior leaders increased by 1.4 points to 43.8. Senior leaders, who have routinely been given relatively low ratings by their employees, are defined as the heads of departments and agencies as well as their immediate leadership teams; the teams typically include career executives and political appointees.
For the first time, we have also grouped 75 federal organizations by six mission areas: public health, law enforcement, national security, energy and environment, financial regulation and oversight. The data show a wide range of scores among agencies with similar workforces and responsibilities.
The purpose is to examine agencies that have similar responsibilities, and employ workers with comparable occupations, to see if there are commonalities or discrepancies in employee satisfaction and commitment. The data will allow agency officials to learn from one another and gain insights about how they can better meet the needs of their workers.
The 2015 data show disparities among agencies within each mission area. The FBI, for example, tops the law enforcement category with a Best Places to Work satisfaction and commitment score of 69.9, while the Secret Service is at the bottom with a score of 33.4. Among financial regulatory agencies, there is a 32.3-point gap between the top-scoring FDIC and the last agency in this category, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.
In addition to the rankings, this website provides an overview of each agency and subcomponent, trend data and expert analysis of what the results mean. Users can conduct side-by-side comparisons of how agencies or their subcomponents rank in various categories, how they compare with other agencies and determine whether they have improved or regressed over time.