Employee morale dips as commitment to mission holds steady

Satisfaction with pay continues to drop, annual survey of federal workers shows.

Federal employees remain dedicated to their jobs and the missions of their agencies, even as their satisfaction with pay and performance management dips, according to the annual federal employee viewpoint survey.

The survey, administered earlier this year by the Office of Personnel Management, showed that 80 percent of employees like the work they do, and more than two thirds would recommend their agency as a good place to work. More than three-fourths said their agencies were successful at accomplishing their missions.

OPM said this was the largest survey since the launch of the effort in 2002, with more than 687,000 employees responding.

Employees remain concerned about performance management in their agencies. Only 33 percent said promotions in their workplace were based on merit, down from 36 percent in 2011. Nearly 43 percent said their offices did not take steps to deal with poor performers who can’t or won’t improve, up from 41 percent last year.

Satisfaction with pay continued to drop among federal employees, who are in the midst of a two-year pay freeze, extended until at least March 2013. A little less than 59 percent of employees reported satisfaction with their pay, down from 62.5 percent last year and 65.8 percent in 2010. Less than 22 percent said pay raises at their agencies depended on how well workers performed their jobs.

Nearly 55 percent of employees, however, reported that the overall skill level in their work unit had increased over the previous year.

Only 43 percent of respondents reported that they were “satisfied with the policies and practices” of their senior leaders. Just 48 percent responded positively when asked if they received recognition for doing a good job. And less than 40 percent reported that creativity and innovation were rewarded at their organizations.

Still, when asked about their overall job satisfaction, 68 percent of employees responded positively.

The survey also showed that telework is on the rise in government. One in three employees said they were eligible for telework this year, up from one in four in 2011.

“These results show that federal employees continue to be as dedicated to their agencies, their mission, and to public service as ever before,” said OPM Director John Berry. “Agencies can learn a lot from the greater detail and granularity in this year's report and I know that this survey will be used to identify strengths, address weaknesses and better serve the American people.”

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