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All Federal Employees to Rate their Job Satisfaction

Or Lack Thereof

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Updated February 01, 2012
In case you haven't been keeping track, the U.S. federal government now has more than 1.8 million full- and part-time civilian employees, and this year for the first time, all of them will get a chance to tell us all just how happy -- or not -- they are with their jobs.

Sent to 266,000 employees last year, the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey will be sent to all 1.8 million federal employees in 2012 starting in April.

Also See: The Government Job Finder - Find job openings that match your skills and experience

According to U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) director John Berry, the survey is being sent to all 1.8 million employees in 2012 because the federal agencies had shown an increased interest in the results.

"While a governmentwide census will not be conducted every year, having large numbers of respondents will allow agencies the opportunity to analyze results and develop action plans at lower levels in the organization this year," said Berry in a memo to the Chief Human Capital Officers Council.

Conducted since 2002, the survey is used to compile the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government report published annually since 2003 by the Partnership for Public Service.

Also See: Best and Worst Government Jobs in 2010

As in 2011, the 2012 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey will result in satisfaction ratings of 308 federal organizations, including 33 large agencies, 35 small agencies and 240 subcomponent agencies. All 15 Cabinet-level, Executive Branch agencies are ranked in the large agency category.

The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey is not sent to employees of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), which was reclassified as a self-supported, semi-governmental agency by the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970.

Not Quite as Happy in 2011

According to the Partnership for Public Service, the overall satisfaction of federal employees with their jobs declined by 1.5% in 2011 compared to 2010. The decrease, called "not as big as one might have expected" by the Partnership for Public Service, was attributed to the federal pay freeze, the possibility of reduced worker benefits, threats of government shutdowns and looming cuts in their agency's share of the annual federal budget.

"The new rankings show improvement in worker satisfaction scores by only 31 percent of federal organizations, compared with 68 percent in 2010, demonstrating that 2011 was a challenging year for most agencies," stated the Partnership for Public Service.

Even with the 1.5% decrease, overall job satisfaction in 2011 was 5.7% higher than in 2003, noted the Partnership for Public Service.

In fact, employee satisfaction improved during 2011 in 31% of all government organizations, including 22% of large agencies, 28% of small agencies and 32% of subcomponent agencies.

The Best Places to Work in 2011

Among the 33 large agencies, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) ranked first on the 2011 Best Places to Work list, moving up two places from 2010. The FDIC replaced the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which ranked second this year after holding the top spot three years in a row. Third place went to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which had ranked second in 2010. The NRC and the GAO both showed declines in their worker satisfaction scores. Among small agencies, the Surface Transportation Board ranked 1st for the third survey in a row, and reached the all-time high Best Places to Work employee satisfaction score of 91.1 out of 100.

And the Worst

For the second year in a row, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) ranked by its employees as the least favorite large agency to work for, reflecting a 7.1% decrease in employee satisfaction since 2010. NARA was followed by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) with a 5.9% decline. SEC employees gave the financial regulatory agency lower scores for the third straight year, dropping it from 3rd place in 2007 to 27th place on 2011. Among small agencies, the Federal Maritime Commission recorded an 18.8 percent decline in employee satisfaction. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which ranked last among small agencies, registered a 16.8 percent fall off in job satisfaction compared to 2010.

What the Survey Asks

Three key questions from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey are used to calculate the rankings of the agencies in the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government index. They are:

1. I recommend my organization as a good place to work.
2. Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your job?
3. Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your organization?

Overall satisfaction rankings are calculated based on the percentage of positive responses to the three questions (agree or strongly agree; satisfied or very satisfied).
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