Survey finds increased satisfaction with federal benefit programs

Federal employees are more pleased with their benefits, and view them as more valuable and competitive with the private sector, than they did several years ago, according to new survey results released by the Office of Personnel Management.

The 2006 employee benefits survey, released Friday, indicated that employees' satisfaction with benefits has increased overall since 2004, when the first such questionnaire was distributed.

The latest survey was administered to a random sample of 2,000 federal employees in August 2006, and sought to assess attitudes about the importance, adequacy, value and competitiveness of federal benefit programs. The target population included almost equal numbers of employees with three or more years of federal service and new hires who had less than three years of service. Of the 2,000 canvassed, 850 participated.

Respondents answered a 59-item questionnaire regarding the government's 10 benefit programs, including its 401(k)-style Thrift Savings Plan, employee health benefits, retiree health benefits, retirement annuities, life insurance, long-term care insurance and flexible spending accounts.

The portion of respondents who rated benefits as important increased by an average of 3 percentage points since 2004 across all programs. Those who said benefits are adequate increased by 4 percentage points; the portion grading benefits as valuable increased by 5 percentage points; and the group that said benefits are competitive with the private sector increased by 7 percentage points.

"This survey reinforces the importance of providing quality benefits to employees to ensure the federal government can continue to attract an effective civilian workforce," said OPM Director Linda Springer.

The TSP, employee health benefits, retiree health benefits and retirement annuities consistently received the highest ratings in importance and value. Additional programs that are not available to all employees -- telework, child care subsidies and health and wellness -- received lower ratings for importance and value.

"Just as OPM believed it was important to launch a new dental and vision benefits option last year to meet employees' needs, we are committed to continuing to search for ways to help the federal workforce better manage their overall health care, plan for their financial futures and assist in other areas," Springer said.

The benefits survey was similar to portions of OPM's federal workforce survey, designed to gauge employees' perceptions of their jobs and views on management challenges. That broader survey also measured employees' satisfaction with pay and benefit programs, and found the government's time-off policies among the best-liked.

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