FEVS Results Show Employees Feel Unsupported, Unempowered

Press Release October 13, 2017

Washington, D.C – Although the aggregate government-wide results of the 2017 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) indicate a slight improvement in overall employee satisfaction, a closer look at the data also shows most federal workers say they lack sufficient resources to do their job and do not feel personally empowered to improve the workplace.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released a topline report on the results of the survey Thursday highlighting a two-point increase from last year for a score of 67 in overall employee engagement. 

“NTEU believes that the most successful federal workplaces are those in which employees are engaged and feel that their views and ideas on effective and efficient workplace practices are valued. It is encouraging to see any increase in that score but it still indicates that more than 30 percent of the federal workforce does not feel involved,” said National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) President Tony Reardon. “That tells me that there is still a lot of work that agency management needs to do.”

A deeper dive into the FEVS data, only part of which was released by OPM, indicates some serious and persistent shortcomings in the federal work environment.

For example, only 47 percent of the survey respondents said they had sufficient resources – personnel, materials, budget – to get the job done.

“More than half of federal employees say they lack the resources they need to carry out their agencies’ missions, and I fear that number will only get worse if Congress adopts the administration’s proposed budget cuts,” Reardon said. “Frontline federal workers are committed to serving the taxpayers, and it is not too much to ask that our government gives them the tools they need to be successful. Cutting agency budgets shrinks staffing levels, leaves outdated computers on desks and forces federal employees to take on multiple tasks covering for departed co-workers, all of which shortchanges Americans who rely on their services.”

Two other data points in the FEVS results show most federal employees do not feel they have much say in how their work unit operates. For example, 53 percent said they did not feel empowered with respect to work processes, and only 41 percent say creativity and innovation are rewarded.

“Like any private sector workplace, frontline employees often have the best ideas for how to make the office run more effectively, and it is important their ideas are considered by management,” Reardon said. “Again, I am concerned the FEVS scores on these two data points could drop further now that the administration has eliminated the main avenue for labor and management to collaborate.”

President Trump recently revoked an executive order that established the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations. 

“We hope Congress and the administration use the FEVS results to guide spending levels in 2018 to provide agencies with enough resources that our nation’s civil servants can fulfill their duties to protect the economy, the security and the health of our country,” Reardon said.

NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 31 federal agencies and departments.