Survey: Federal employee satisfaction declines

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Federal employees' satisfaction with their jobs declined slightly overall in 2011, according to a new survey of the best places to work in government.

The nonprofit Partnership for Public Service on Wednesday released its annual rankings of large and small agencies and announced the results of a survey that found governmentwide employee satisfaction and commitment dipped this year from a score of 65 points in 2010 to 64 points out of a possible 100. Sixty-four points still is 5.7 percent higher than the score in 2003, when the group first published its rankings.

"The 1.5 percent drop is not as steep as one might have expected, given the difficult economic and political climate that has led to a federal pay freeze, the national discussion around reduced worker benefits, threats of government shutdowns and the certainty of significant agency budget cuts," said the survey's summary.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation garnered the top spot for employee satisfaction in the large agency category, followed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Government Accountability Office. FDIC also was the most improved large federal agency, increasing its score 8.5 percent from 2010. Rounding out the top 10 best places to work in the large agency category were:

  • Smithsonian Institution
  • NASA
  • Social Security Administration
  • State Department
  • Intelligence Community
  • Office of Personnel Management
  • General Services Administration

Respondents ranked the Surface Transportation Board as the number one small agency to work at, followed by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The National Archives and Records Administration was the lowest-rated large agency for the second consecutive year; the departments of Housing and Urban Development and Homeland Security also received low scores on employee satisfaction. In the small agency category, the Office of the U.S Trade Representative ranked at the bottom.

Effective senior leadership still is the primary driver in worker satisfaction, according to the analysis. Federal employees gave senior leadership a score of 54.9 out of 100 for their efforts. Other important factors included satisfaction with pay, which dropped 6.1 percent from 2010, to a score of 59.1, and the link between employees' skills and agencies' missions, which received a score of 78.6.

The analysis also found that private-sector workers continue to be more satisfied with their jobs than their counterparts in government.

The survey included 308 federal organizations: 33 large agencies, 35 small agencies and 240 subcomponents. It's based on data from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, which included 266,000 respondents.

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