Every year the U.S. Office of Personnel Management conducts a Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey asking employees dozens of questions about their perceptions of what it is like to work at their agency. Below are some examples of the questions from the 2014 survey:
We don’t have the government-wide comparative results for the 2014 survey, but the 2013 data is available on the BestPlacesToWork.org site. We looked up last year’s findings for the five federal agencies that employ the most wildland firefighters. The numbers below indicate the ranking out of 300 agencies, with the lower numbers being better. The links will take you to more details about the results for each agency:
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 75
- Bureau of Land Management, 155
- National Park Service, 200
- Bureau of Indian Affairs, 247
- Forest Service, 260
The U.S. Forest Service, which employs the most federal wildland firefighters, has notified their employees about how the organization fared in 2014, saying “…scores improved overall compared to the 2013 survey and this is encouraging as government wide the average scores decreased slightly.”
Here is a summary of the highs and lows for the USFS this year, according to their memo:
“General Observations about the survey results:
What we’re proud of:
- Employees enjoy their job, their coworkers, their supervisors, and work life programs like telework, flexible schedules and child care.
- Responses are more positive than they were a year ago, which shows we are working to make improvements but there is plenty of work we need to continue to do.
- Employees believe that they are protected from health and safety hazards and that diversity in the workplace is promoted.
- Supervisors ROCK! On average, any question that began with “my supervisor…” rated at 70% positive. We need to recognize the good work of supervisors throughout the agency.
- 63% of employees are satisfied or very satisfied with their job. Consider that in Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace study of over 150,000 people surveyed only 30 percent admitted they honestly enjoy their job and their bosses.
What we need to work on:
- “Managers” are rated much less favorably than “Supervisors”.
- “Senior Leaders” score very low in trust, respect, and the ability to motivate employees.
- Employees are not satisfied with pay, training, or that their talents are well used.
- There is an urgent need to communicate more effectively with employees about actions taken at the senior management level — the “why” much more than the “what”.
- Majority of employees feel they do not have enough resources to do their job. One interpretation of this is that it reflects that employees want to do more, because their is valued, important and is something they are proud of.
- 83% of employees say their supervisor supports work life balance, but only 40% say their workload is reasonable. The public, our communities, are all demanding we increase our stewardship, service and response. It has always been the case, but with a smaller workforce it is even more challenging. We need to set priorities and hold ourselves to doing that work. Here again is an indication of employees thinking the work we do is important.
- People look at our standing in the survey results and say it reflects “low morale”. From the Chief’s vantage point we get a tremendous amount of work done, safely! Agencies with low morale don’t do that. Our employees are frustrated—they see so much that we can and should be doing, but we don’t have all the resources to do the work.
- The lowest ranked questions have a common theme of trusting the organization, feeling that the system is unfair, and employees are not appropriately recognized or empowered.”