Fed workforce survey: a mixed bag

Improvement needed in work-life balance.

By Max Cacas

The Office of Personnel Management is out with its fourth edition of the Federal Human Capital Survey. It Is designed to be a “snapshot” of federal worker perspectives on how their workplaces are being managed.

“Federal employees have indicated they like the work they do, they think the work they do is important, and they think they are held accountable for the results,” said Nancy Kichak, OPM’s associate director for human resources policy, while releasing the results on Thursday.

Kichak also told FederalNewsRadio that agencies’ performance in the survey has improved over a wide range of questions. And, in an interesting outcome, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, one of the best performing federal agencies in past editions of the survey, managed to improve index scores again in areas such as talent management, job satisfaction, leadership and knowledge management.

Looking at some highlights from the 2008 survey:

  • 91% of federal workers believe their work is important.
  • 84% know how their work relates to the agency’s goals and priorities.
  • 75% believe the workforce has the knowledge and skills to get the job done.
  • Only 68% of feds surveyed feel that they are satisfied with their jobs.
  • 62% of feds responding to the survey say they are satisfied with health insurance benefits, that compares with 58% in 2006.

On the other hand, only 40% say their creativity and innovation are rewarded, and only 26% see a link between performance and pay raises. OPM’s Nancy Kichak says they recognize that they still have a lot of work to do, particularly in areas of work-life balance.

Reaction from at least one federal employee union suggests a “glass half-empty” opinion of the final human capital survey to be conducted by the Bush Administration.

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in an e-mail statement, “This survey highlights employees’ frustration with inadequate resources, unfair treatment, a lack of confidence in senior leaders and inadequate training for frontline managers.”

Kelley also pointed out that just under half of the respondents – 48% – said they believe that arbitrary action, personal favoritism and coercion for partisan political purposes continue to be tolerated in federal agencies. Further, she said, a little more than half the respondents – 52% – said they have a high level of respect for their organization’s senior leaders.

Still to come, says Kichak, are division and department-level results from the survey, which are expected to be released to the cabinet officials and mid-level managers sometime this Spring or early Summer.

On the Web:
OPM – 2008 Federal Human Capital Survey

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