Feds’ Job and Pay Satisfaction Plunges in 2013 Survey

Pay satisfaction falls the most; morale has steadily dropped since 2010.

Federal employees’ job satisfaction dropped nearly across the board in 2013, according to a new survey of the workforce.

In 53 categories measured in the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, the percentage of workers giving positive marks decreased, according to the Office of Personnel Management, which administers the survey annually. There were just two categories in which feds gave higher marks in 2013 than they did in 2012.

OPM asked about 781,000 employees to respond to the survey, less than half of the number they sent the survey to last year. The response rate, however, increased by 2 percent, with more than 375,000 respondents. OPM said 2012 was the only year it conducted a full census, and the 2013 numbers were more in line with its standard approach. 

In most categories, a majority of feds gave positive feedback, though the trends have pointed down for several years. Job satisfaction dropped three points to 65 percent; pay satisfaction was down five points to 54 percent; organization satisfaction fell three points to 65 percent; and only 63 percent of respondents said they would recommend their organization, down from 67 percent last year.

Those four categories make up what OPM calls the “global satisfaction index.” In 2010, that figure was 67 out of 100, but in 2013 it was down to 59. With three years of frozen salaries, pay satisfaction has dipped the furthest, with a 66 percent positive score in 2010. In the 2013 survey, just 19 percent of employees said pay raises depended on job performance compared to 26 percent who said the same in 2010.

Another area of significant drop off was in agency resources; just 44 percent of employees said they had sufficient resources to do their jobs, down from 48 percent last year and 50 percent in 2010.

“Factors such as an unprecedented three-year pay freeze, automatic reductions from the sequester that included furloughs for hundreds of thousands of employees, and reductions in training and other areas are clearly taking their toll on the federal workforce,” said the recently sworn in OPM Director Katherine Archuleta, who noted the survey was conducted before the 16-day government shutdown. “The survey results serve as an important warning about the long-term consequences of the sequestration and budget uncertainty. Without a more predictable and responsible budget situation, we risk losing our most talented employees, as well as hurting our ability to recruit top talent for the future.”

Archuleta also noted, however, that federal employees were willing to put in extra effort, looked for ways to do their jobs better and felt their work was important, with more than 90 percent of employees responding positively in those categories.

More employees were satisfied with telework and said their supervisors treated them with respect than last year, making up the only two categories with an increase in positive responses from last year.  

(Image via rangizzz/Shutterstock.com)