By Tero Vesalainen /

After COVID Delay, OPM Prepares for 2020 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey

This year’s iteration of the annual survey of federal workers’ engagement and morale will begin on July 13 and include questions about agencies’ response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials at the Office of Personnel Management on Thursday announced that the agency will start its annual survey of federal employees’ engagement and morale next month, ending a two-month delay due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In March, OPM announced that its annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, which normally fields responses beginning in May, would be delayed to allow agencies to focus on mission critical work in response to COVID-19.

In a memo to agency heads Thursday, acting OPM Director Michael Rigas said his agency is on track to open the survey up to federal employee respondents on July 13. Invitations to fill out the survey will be sent to every federal employee in two waves, each of which will be open for six weeks.

Rigas wrote that there will be some changes to the questions included in the survey this year, although he did not specify the nature of those changes.

“Responding to requests from multiple agencies to ease administrative burden, we streamlined the core set of standard items for 2020,” he wrote. “As in prior years, the survey will include widely used Employee Engagement and Global Satisfaction indices . . . Maintaining half the core items from prior OPM FEVS administrations addresses the needs of stakeholders by facilitating transparency through a comparison of survey results across agencies and across time.”

Continuing a trend from last year, when OPM asked employees about the impact of the partial government shutdown that occurred at the start of 2019 on agency operations, the 2020 survey will include a section of questions devoted to the coronavirus pandemic.

“New this year will be a comprehensive section addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, with questions that allow identification of ways in which employees continued to achieve missions in the face of an unprecedented pandemic,” Rigas wrote. “[With] the addition of the COVID-19 pandemic section, the survey also provides employees an opportunity to participate in data collection with the potential to shape future policies and interagency learning regarding human capital management in the face of an emergency.”

Rigas urged agency leaders to encourage employees to take the survey, and to demonstrate that they use the survey’s results to shape workforce policy.

“As we near the 2020 OPM FEVS, please show your employees how you support the survey,” he wrote. “If you have not done so yet, a good place to begin is by sharing the results of the 2019 survey. Tell employees about steps being taken based on the findings within your agencies and what the outcomes of those efforts have been. In addition to sharing information, providing official time to complete the survey can help increase participation rates.”

Despite the delay in deploying the survey, Rigas wrote that OPM still anticipates releasing the results in October, a date in line with previous years’ survey results.