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Federal Employment Viewpoint Study: Growing Employee Connections

Aug 13 2015

The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) could be the proverbial “win-win” for government agency managers and staffers.

Inside the data, if one looks closely enough, is a treasure trove of information that can and may be mined by executives looking for better ways to grow connections with federal employees. The trick is knowing where to look.

While the 2015 version of the FEVS won’t be available until late August to October of this year, there is enough data available in the survey to give government managers some much-needed direction in running their workplaces, and to better connect with employees to understand what impacts them most on the job.

But first, what's the FEVS? This from the U.S. Office of Personnel and Management:

“The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) is a tool that measures employees' perceptions of whether, and to what extent, conditions characterizing successful organizations are present in their agencies. Survey results provide valuable insight into the challenges agency leaders face in ensuring the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce and how well they are responding.”

OPM tracks 40,000 government offices at 82 agencies, to obtain the results of the federal employee survey. Based on the most recent data, here are the main takeaways for government managers looking for a clearer path to more productive, engaged employees:

1. Staffers want to see your office succeed

Some managers may be reluctant to push a project across the finish line because he or she fears burnout from staffers. Interestingly, staffers don’t see it that way. According to the most recent survey data, a whopping 96% of federal government employees say that, “when needed, I am willing to put in the extra effort to get the job done.”

2. Be ready to lead, because your staff expects it

In a section of the 2014 survey entitled “Leaders Lead," FEVS states that only half of federal workers (50%, down from 53% in 2013) believe they’re seeing “an integrity of leadership” from their government managers.

Additionally, half of government agency staffers say their managers could do a better job of communicating with them, as well as motivating them toward stronger productivity in the workplace. For government executives, that’s a red flag. Meet with staff and discuss ways for everyone to listen and execute better on the job.

Whatever comes from those meetings, make sure any decisions you make are truly decisive, clear and compelling.

3. Your agency needs to do a better job on diversity

Government leaders walk the walk on diversity, but they’re not talking the talk. The FEVS data shows, convincingly, that federal government agencies are doing a poor-to-mediocre job on creating a culturally diverse workplace that welcomes employees across all cultural and ideological spectrums.

For instance, U.S. military veterans are becoming slightly more scarce in government offices, down almost 4% since 2013. At 2.8% of all federal workers, the LGBT demographic is also stalled in the agency workplace , even as media spotlight shines brightly on such advances in the private sector. Hiring workers with disabilities has leveled off, too, thus squandering a chance for Uncle Sam to show the private sector that disabled professionals can be a big and motivating factor in the workplace.

Government executives need to do significantly better in bringing more diverse voices into the agency fold, but the data shows that so far, they just aren't doing so.

There are also plenty of areas where government managers can see improvement. Job satisfaction rates stand at 64%, while 62% of government workers would recommend their agency as a “good place to work.”

Still, the areas for improvement are plentiful, and for government managers,upgrading their agencies on the three key issues above is a great place to start growing connections with federal employees.


Brian O’Connell is a writer with 15 years' experience covering the intersection of government, business and technology. A former Wall Street bond trader, he has written for dozens of top-tier national publications, including TIME, MSN Money, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, The and CBS Marketwatch.


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