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Agency Leaders Urged to Support Federal Employee Job Satisfaction Survey

Widespread participation in the anonymous annual questionnaire is critical to measuring how employees view their leaders, jobs and compensation, OPM director says.

The Office of Personnel Management earlier this week announced the next round of an annual survey to gauge how federal employees governmentwide really feel about their jobs, managers, pay and benefits.

The 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey will be distributed in two waves beginning the first week of May, recently confirmed OPM Director Jeff Pon told agency heads in an April 4 memorandum. The anonymous questionnaire will remain open for six weeks at each agency, with the last surveys closing in June. Agencies will start to hear how they have performed in August.

Pon urged agency leaders to support the annual survey. “The quality of the information you receive is improved when you encourage participation in the survey and demonstrate how results from previous years have been used for agency improvements,” he wrote. “Employees are more likely to share their opinions when they hear from leaders that their feedback is valued and used.”

The 2017 viewpoint survey showed that federal employees were happier and more engaged in their work than the previous year, but it also had the lowest response rate in at least a decade.  Pon noted that just four in 10 respondents agreed with the statement: “I believe the results of this survey will be used to make my agency a better place to work.”

That finding, he said, shows “more needs to be done to demonstrate to employees that their feedback is taken seriously and utilized for agency improvements.”     

For its part, OPM is testing out an updated version of the survey that is designed to be clearer and to reflect new priorities such as customer service. The pilot version will, for instance, contain a clearer definition of “leadership” in the questions on that topic. All federal employees will have the option of filling out FEVS, but only some will be invited to take the pilot version.

“Leadership messaging encouraging your employees to take the time to complete the FEVS is especially essential this year as we strive to improve the survey,” Pon wrote.