Engagement, leadership scores up slightly in 2015 FEVS

Federal agencies made slight progress this year in boosting employee engagement, according to the results of the 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.

The Office of Personnel Management posted this year’s results on Sept. 28 on UnlockTalent.gov, where they were made available to the public for the first time.

“This survey data provides a powerful way for agency leaders to be able to think about, and evaluate, their engagement programs and office cultures,” OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert said in a press release. “As leaders, we know that employee engagement drives performance and is closely tied to mission success in the federal government, which means better service for our customers, the American people.”

Overall, the governmentwide employee engagement scores rose 1 percent in 2015 — from 63 percent to 64 percent.

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Small agencies fared better and made slightly more progress on employee engagement with a score of 67 percent, up 2 percent from 2014. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency has the highest score of all small agencies at 87 percent, despite a 2 percent drop from last year.

Federal employees at large and small agencies were generally more satisfied with their leaders and supervisors this year. Leadership scores, which measure employees’ opinions on their leader’s ability to communicate and maintain high standards, rose to 51 percent after falling to a five-year low of 50 percent in 2014. Governmentwide, employees’ satisfaction with their immediate supervisors held steady at 71 percent.

The FEVS engagement index gauges an employee’s satisfaction with their leadership, supervisors and overall work experience.

Agencies also boosted by 1 percent their Global Satisfaction Index scores this year. This score measures an employee’s job, pay and organizational satisfaction. Overall, scores stand at 60 percent governmentwide.

Small agencies also made slightly more progress than large agencies in the global index. Overall satisfaction rose from 59 percent to 62 percent in 2015.

More federal employees responded to the FEVS this year than in 2014. OPM received 421,748 responses from 82 agencies in 2015. Half of the surveyed employees provided responses, up 3 percent from a year ago.

NASA tops the list again, OMB makes big strides

The Office of Management and Budget, Federal Trade Commission and NASA all topped the list of large agencies with the highest engagement scores at 78 percent. OMB is one of the agencies that made the most progress; its engagement score rose 5 percent over the past year.

Though the Housing and Urban Development Department ranked 32nd in employee engagement among large agencies, it also made some of the biggest strides to improve this year. It raised its general engagement score by 5 percent — from 57 percent to 62 percent. HUD leaders and supervisors saw a 6 percent and 5 percent boost to their scores, respectively. HUD employees also ranked their intrinsic work experiences 5 percent better this year.

NASA tops the list of large agencies in the Global Satisfaction Index once again with a score of 76 percent, up 2 percent over last year. But OMB follows close behind at 75 percent, raising its score by 9 percentage points over the last year, the most progress of any large agency.

Another disappointing year for DHS

Once again, the Homeland Security Department is at the bottom of the employee engagement list with a score of 53 percent. The department continued its downward trend for the fifth consecutive year. DHS leadership, including the secretary, deputy secretary, undersecretary for management and the Employee Engagement Steering Committee, said the agency is working hard to turn morale around.

“In a tough year in which there was an agency-specific threatened shutdown and a great deal of controversy around key mission areas, DHS scores declined an average of only 1 percentage point on each of the HCAAF and Employee Engagement indices, with a slight increase around the ‘Supervisors’ sub-index of the Employee Engagement index,” a senior DHS official told Federal News Radio.

DHS didn’t fare better with its global satisfaction scores, which fell 1 percent this year. At 47 percent, it landed at the bottom of the list for large agencies.

The department pointed to several challenges this past year like a tough political climate at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and leadership changes within the Secret Service. But it identified some success within its individual bureaus and agencies.

“TSA has invested a great deal of work in consistently reaching out to their workforce and ensuring two-way communication. Despite losing their top leadership and experiencing other challenges during this FEVS cycle, they remained stable or had only slight changes,” a senior DHS official said.

“NPPD [National Protection and Programs Directorate] has been listening to their employee feedback, putting an ombudsman program into place to facilitate fair, equitable and expeditious resolutions to concerns and problems raised by employees and focusing on two-way communication,” the official added.