The Office of Personnel Management is soliciting candid feedback from departing senior executives about their job experience.
The new exit survey, available online indefinitely, asks senior executives a range of questions, including why they are leaving their agency, where they are headed, and what they would change about their work experience. It also seeks demographic information from respondents, such as age, length of tenure in the Senior Executive Service, and type of appointment.
The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete, participants remain anonymous, and their responses are confidential.
“The exit survey will capture valuable information regarding the circumstances under which executives leave the federal government and offer an opportunity for executives to provide candid feedback about their work experience,” wrote Angela Bailey, OPM associate director of employee services, in a March 22 memo to agency human resources directors. “Implementation of this survey will ultimately allow agencies to explore issues that impact retention and succession planning efforts.”
The questions are straightforward and could elicit some forthright responses, particularly since the survey is anonymous. For example, one question asks participants: “Was any effort made to encourage you to stay?” Another question lists several aspects of professional life within such categories as work-life balance, compensation and training, and asks respondents to specifically check which incentives would have encouraged them to stay at their agency.
Candidates for the government’s top tier of career civil servants increasingly are “not terribly motivated” to join the SES, said Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association. Pay compression is one obstacle: Pay for top federal officials overlaps that of General Schedule employees, which discourages workers at the GS-14 and GS-15 levels from applying for SES positions and taking on additional responsibilities while receiving lower compensation.
Bonosaro said she hopes the feedback from departing senior executives “enables us to make the SES more attractive.” SEA collaborated with OPM and the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service on the exit survey. “It’s amazing that it hasn’t been done before,” she said.