How to identify FEVS questions that really improve employee satisfaction

Many agencies lack the resources to properly analyze FEVS data. Learn how to identify high impact questions and dig deeper into results.

This content is provided by EconSys

Every year, the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) collects data from more than 450,000 federal employees to provide valuable insights into the performance of agencies and their departments. Because of the consistent use of the FEVS in federal agencies, it is possible to collect and analyze data on a year-over-year basis, generating clear insights into the impact of changes made in response to previous feedback.

Unfortunately, many agencies lack the resources or time needed to make comparisons beyond the static benchmarks against which most results are measured. To really dive into the data from more than 90 questions and determine what has the biggest impact on employee satisfaction for a specific department within a specific agency, further evaluation is needed. Identifying the specific FEVS questions that allow this is the first step in the process to overall better employee satisfaction scores.

The Risk of Focusing Only on Low Scores

It’s tempting to focus only on the lowest scores in the FEVS. After all, if employees consistently respond negatively to a certain question, it must be a factor in their overall satisfaction rating, right? Not necessarily.

In fact, more often than not, fixating on the lowest scoring questions does little to impact overall ratings in future FEVS results. Instead, the focus should be understanding the story behind the ratings. This story can be better understood through Key Driver Analysis, a process by which the most impactful questions are identified and analyzed.

How Key Driver Analysis Improves FEVS Analysis

Key Driver Analysis allows HR professionals to delve into the performance of individual questions when compared against other questions in FEVS results. When a question is more closely related to overall satisfaction, it is rated as “more important”. By identifying more valuable questions and then layering in the results, it is possible to weight the responses and see which of the lower performing questions has the biggest impact on the overall rating.

EconSys uses a quadrant-based system to identify questions based on importance and average score, resulting in four groups, including:

  • Successes – These are questions with both high scores and high importance, indicating an area in which the agency is currently meeting or exceeding employee expectations. The responses to these questions represent a positive impact on the overall satisfaction score.
  • Critical Improvements – These are questions with a low score and a high level of importance. This is where you’ll find easy opportunities– individual areas that, when addressed, will have the greatest impact on future overall satisfaction ratings.
  • Basics – Basics are areas in which you receive strong responses but are rated low in overall importance.
  • Low Yields – This is the area in which you can get trapped, focusing on areas for which you receive low scores, but that have less importance overall. Many agencies invest time and energy into resolving issues in this quadrant, only to find that it doesn’t impact future overall satisfaction scores. Without key driver analysis, it’s likely they will continue to do so.

The FEVS is an opportunity to evaluate the performance of your agency and its individual departments on several factors across dozens of questions, but not all questions are the same. Some represent important insights into the perceived efficiency and operations of the organization. Others are more cosmetic, and whether the results are good or bad, your response won’t have a significant impact.

By identifying and categorizing the questions on the FEVS based on your agency’s historical performance and the goals you’ve set, you can more quickly drilldown to the key drivers of success and start making better decisions for future changes, prioritized based on your available resources.

The good news is that every agency can take these steps to more strategically improve employee satisfaction. Key Driver Analysis templates and guides are widely available with a quick internet search. EconSys offers an interactive, web-based employee engagement reporting tool that completes the analysis and presents results in a user-friendly interface.

About EconSys

We are proud to deliver HR solutions that are designed specifically for federal agencies by former federal HR professionals. We help federal and state agencies to improve their operational efficiency, make better data- driven decisions, and empower State and Federal Governments to improve the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of HR operations to manage the “Hire-to-Retire” lifecycle. From consulting and staffing services to operational and analytical software, we have continued to add innovative and cost-efficient solutions that foster a highly productive and fulfilled workforce for our federal and state clients since 1990. Learn more at

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