The 5 Agencies Where Employee Satisfaction Is Dropping the Most

Not all federal employees were happier in 2016.

While morale and engagement ticked up on a governmentwide basis among federal employees in 2016, not all agencies experienced the same trend.

In the 2016 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, the global satisfaction score -- which measures workers’ happiness with pay, their individual jobs and the overall organization -- rose to 61 percent from 60 percent in 2015. The modest increase was the second in as many years, following several in which employee morale and engagement had slipped significantly.

The results varied across government, however, and some agencies are still struggling. Most of the agencies that experienced drop-offs in 2016 are still above the governmentwide average in employee satisfaction, but are trending in the wrong direction.

Here are the five large agencies (those with more than 800 employees) that saw the biggest decreases in satisfaction since 2015:

1) Social Security Administration: Dropped 3 percentage points

2) Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Dropped 3 points

3) Education Department: Dropped 2 points

4) National Labor Relations Board: Dropped 2 points

5) Railroad Retirement Board: Dropped 2 points

Dorie Nolt, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, cited this being a “transition year” and budget cuts as responsible for the declining scores. The department has shed space from its downtown Washington, D.C., office and relocated more than 20 percent of its workforce.

“What’s more,” Nolt said, “the reduction in operating funds has led to a decline in our overall workforce of about 8 percent over the last six years, which means the increasing workload is being handled by fewer people in each office.”

She added 2016 was a blip on an otherwise positive trend.

“We take this feedback seriously and are encouraged by the overall improvement in our employee engagement rating in the last few years,” she said.

The NRC said it is still evaluating the results of the survey, while SSA declined to comment. 

Here are the five small agencies (those with fewer than 800 employees) that saw the biggest decreases in satisfaction since 2015:

1) Commission on Civil Rights: Dropped 15 percentage points

2) U.S. Access Board: Dropped 11 points

3) Surface Transportation Board: Dropped 11 points

4) Federal Election Commission: Dropped 8 points

5) Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service: Dropped 5 points