Survey Shows Drop in Federal Employee Job Satisfaction

by | Jan 7, 2015

Last Updated January 2, 2024
federal employment attorney reports Drop in Federal Employee Job Satisfaction

A recent survey shows that federal employees are increasingly unhappy with their jobs. In fact, the survey reveals that job satisfaction in the federal sector reached an 11-year low in 2014.

The 2014 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings included the views of more than 392,700 civil servants on a wide range of workplace topics.

Federal employees’ score for overall job satisfaction and commitment fell for the fourth year in a row to 56.9 out of 100 – the lowest score since the rankings first came out in 2003.

In contrast, private-sector employee satisfaction gauged by the Hay Group improved by 1.3 points in 2014 for a score of 72, according to the Partnership for Public Service, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey.

Federal Soup, a federal employment news site, reports that the survey also shows that a lack of effective leadership is the main contributor to employees’ dissatisfaction. Scores for senior leaders across the federal government fell by 3 points in the 2014 survey to 42.4 – also the lowest score for that group in the survey’s history.

Decline in Employee Satisfaction Found in Several Agencies

The 2014 Best Places to Work rankings included the views of federal workers at 389 federal organizations: 19 large federal agencies, 25 mid-size agencies, 30 small agencies and 315 subcomponents. The rankings also featured responses from more than 15,000 additional employees at 11 agencies, including four legislative branch organizations.

A “vast majority” of survey data was collected in April through June 2014, approximately six months after the partial government shutdown.

Employee attitudes were measured in 10 workplace categories, including leadership, teamwork, strategic management and innovation.

Three questions in the survey were used to calculate index scores for individual agencies:

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

The index is weighted according to the extent to which each question predicts “intent to remain.”

Federal Job Satisfaction Ratings: A Comprehensive Analysis

In terms of job satisfaction and commitment, NASA was the top-rated large agency (15,000-plus permanent employees), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was tops among mid-size agencies (1,000 to 14,999 permanent employees) and the Surface Transportation Board had the best ranking among small agencies (100 to 999 permanent employees). The Office of the General Counsel for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ranked highest among agency subcomponents.

Among individual federal organizations, 55.8 percent saw their overall employee satisfaction and commitment ratings decrease in 2014. Specifically, 44.4 percent of large agencies, 60.9 percent of mid-size agencies, 62.1 percent of small agencies and 55.3 percent of the subcomponents experienced a decline in employee satisfaction, Partners for Public Service reports.

The survey also shows that “men are marginally less satisfied with their jobs than women” (a score of 59.5 out of 100 versus 60.1) and that those under age 40 are more dissatisfied than older federal workers (a 5.1-point decline in job satisfaction versus a 3.8-point drop).

Members of the Senior Executive Service (SES), the federal leadership corps, have a job satisfaction score of 81.8, marking a 1-point increase from 2013.

Hopefully, federal agencies can examine the results of this survey and rankings an find ways to improve employees’ satisfaction with their jobs.

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