IT, HR worker satisfaction foretells overall agency ratings

A deep dive into the 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey data shows that agency morale has a lot to do with satisfaction in the information technology and human resources workforces.

In a follow-up analysis to its 2015 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government report, the Partnership for Public Service found that government HR and IT professionals were more satisfied at their agencies than the average employee.

The State Department, for example, had the happiest HR workforce of all agencies with more than 15,000 employees —71.6 percent of those employees said they were content with their offices. NASA came in at a close second, with 70.5 percent of HR employees giving positive feedback.

The Social Security Administration scored the highest with its IT employees. The study found 71.4 percent of IT workers there rated it favorably, and NASA ranked second again at 69.7 percent.

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Contracting specialists, at 78.6 percent, also ranked SSA as the best large agency to work for. NASA, yet again, placed second at 78 percent.

The Partnership found in December that overall employee satisfaction scores had improved for the first time in four years. The government overall received a satisfaction score of 58.1 percent from feds.

Despite being better off than the average federal worker, the report still found areas where these subsets of workers found the government to be lacking. Feds in these specialized categories told the Partnership they often felt disconnected from the agency mission.

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“Many participants in our workshop expressed that those in the human resources, information technology and contract professions are frequently disconnected from the big picture, with their roles often seen as transactional in nature rather than being considered as an integral part of the team,” the report said.

Together, these employees agreed that they did not feel personally empowered on agencywide projects. Workers said they were the least satisfied in their workplace training, and found few opportunities to review their training needs with management.

2015 Best Place to Work Survey — Training and Development
Questions Government-wide HR Specialists IT Specialists Contract Specialists Private Sector
I am given a real opportunity to improve
my skills in my organization
61.1 66.9 60.5 70.6 68.0
I have enough information to do my job well 69.3 71.4 63.6 69.7 77.0
My training needs are assessed 50.8 54.0 47.1 61.9 71.0
How satisfied are you with the training
you receive for your present job?
48.9 51.7 43.5 57.3 63.0

“Employee satisfaction is generally higher when individuals are provided with on-the-job experiences that help them meet their long-term career goals, which can lead to them staying on the job longer and being more productive. Individuals across the government have reported that training must be more nimble and personalized to their needs, the report said.

Private sector employees in general held a more positive outlook of their workplaces — 63 percent said they were satisfied with their training, and 71 percent said their training needs were assessed.

In its recommendations, PPS concluded that workers in these fields are happiest under these conditions:

1. Employees play a role as an adviser, strategic partner and team member

2. They have a culture of creativity and innovation

3. Their agencies invest in learning opportunities to connect employees to the mission

The government has the most room to improve, however, around creating more innovative workspaces. Governmentwide, 34.5 percent of employees said their workplaces rewarded creativity and innovation. Specialists in HR, IT and contracting gave only slightly higher innovation ratings for their workplaces.

2015 Best Place to Work Survey — Innovation 
Questions Government-wide HR Specialists IT Specialists Contract Specialists
I feel encouraged to come up with new
and better ways of doing things
55.5 63.2 59.1 54.3
I am constantly looking for ways to do my job better 90.0 92.6 91.0 90.0
Creativity and innovation are rewarded 34.5 40.7 36.7 34.7