Partnership for Public Service notes a “modest drop in employee engagement” overall across government.
For the eighth year in a row, NASA came out as the best place to work in the federal government among large agencies in a nonprofit’s annual rankings.
On Tuesday, the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service and global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group released the 2019 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings, based largely on responses to the Office of Personnel Management's annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey that was administered between May and early June. The Partnership and consultancy also incorporated additional survey data from 10 agencies (including the Veterans Affairs Department and Peace Corps) as well as responses from intelligence agency employees.
The top overall ranking went to the agency with the highest employee “engagement” score as determined by the Partnership and Boston Consulting based on the answers to three questions on job satisfaction, satisfaction with the organization more broadly and whether the employee would recommend his or her agency as a good place to work. Governmentwide, federal employee engagement measured this way dropped 0.5 points from last year to 61.7 out of a possible score of 100.
The highest ranked agencies for 2019 in terms of engagement were the following: NASA (among large agencies), Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (among mid-size agencies), U.S. International Trade Commission (among small agencies) and the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Office of Inspector General (among subcomponent agencies).
Agencies that lost “significant ground” in employee engagement in 2019 were the Agriculture, Transportation and Education departments; Social Security Administration; National Labor Relations Board; Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency; Corporation for National and Community Service; Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service; and, Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
Specifically, the Partnership and BCG found that the three agencies undergoing reorganization or relocations—Corporation for National and Community Service and the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture—suffered significant drops in their rankings this year.
“Our country is blessed with an extraordinary and highly resilient government workforce,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. “This year’s engagement dropped modestly despite a tumultuous time for our nation’s public servants—a time when about 800,000 of the 2 million federal employees were affected by a lengthy government shutdown, when there were a number of critical leadership vacancies across the government, and as many agencies had to deal with a variety of political headwinds.”
The Partnership said in a press release there were “small improvements” in employee attitudes as well as views on training and development, and performance-based awards and effective leadership, despite the drop in engagement overall. Meanwhile, there was a 0.4 decline in how satisfied employees were with their pay and 0.2 decline in the extent to which employees believe their leadership’s actions and policies promote and respect diversity.
“Every day that our nation’s leaders fail to meet or exceed employee engagement levels seen in the best private sector companies, our government and our nation loses,” Stier said. “Leaders across government must continue to make employee engagement a top priority since a highly-motivated workforce is critical to a well-functioning government.”
The rankings encompass the views of more than 883,000 employees at 490 agencies and their subcomponents.