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Posted by on Nov 14, 2013

A First (Quick) Look at the 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey Results

FEVSimageThe 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results are out. There are thousands of ways you can slice and dice the data, but for instant analysis, let’s look at a few key points.

First, the results overall are showing the toll of pay freezes, sequestration and furlough concerns, reduced training and everyone having to do more with less. Positive responses to a majority of the questions declined; a phenomenon that started last year. There was a significant drop in employee satisfaction.

Second, in what I call the 80% club – critical mass in that at least 80% of the respondents had a positive response and probably impact culture as a result — we have the following questions:

• When needed I am willing to put in the extra effort to get a job done. (An impressive 95.6 %!)
• I am constantly looking for ways to do my job better.
• The work I do is important.
• How satisfied are you with the Alternative Work Schedules (AWS) program in your agency?
• I like the kind of work I do.
• I know how my work relates to the agency’s goals and priorities.
• How would you rate the overall quality of work done by your work unit?
• I am held accountable for achieving results.

Take that, critics of the federal so-called uncreative, unaccountable slackers who hate their unimportant jobs.

Third, we still have issues with performance management. The following statements were agreed with by fewer than 40% of respondents:
• Awards in my work unit depend on how well employees perform their jobs.
• Creativity and innovation are rewarded.
• Promotions in my work unit are based on merit.
• In my work unit, differences in performance are recognized in a meaningful way.
• In my work unit, steps are taken to deal with a poor performer who cannot or will not improve.
• Pay raises depend on how well employees perform their jobs. (This was below 20%, but what did you expect with freezes?)

What to do with this data?

If you are a leader, manager or supervisor, make sure people know that you recognize their efforts. Give them positive feedback when things go well, and feedback that helps when they don’t. Help others to differentiate between the things they or you can control and not control. And just to keep perspective in often-difficult circumstances, remember that the stresses, annoyances and hindrances are actually very small when compared to, say, living in the Philippines right now.


  1. Hey Mark,

    Excellent post.

    I do wonder about the validity of your “80% Club”. It seems those particular questions would invite self-selection bias. Especially given your first point about the negative effects currently taking place on their jobs. In my mind, it would create a personal narrative like, “The work I’m doing is important and I stay late to make sure it’s completed but I still haven’t had a pay increase in two years.”

    I think those types of questions are more interesting when you compare across agencies/roles/etc. Standing by themselves, I’m just not sure they mean much.

    I’d love to hear your response.

  2. Thank you for your comments. I think you’re onto something, and believe it’s true that some people may choose responses that make them look or feel good.
    At the same time, it’s interesting that this answer was actually the single highest item in percentage terms (96%). One way I think about this is that there was at least some potential for people to say something like, “Why put in extra effort when my pay has been frozen?” It might even be seen by some people as one way to send the message that you can’t freeze people’s pay and expect much discretionary effort.
    And even with some self-bias, and as you note, it is always good for agencies to look at their individual results vis a vis the averages – whether the latter are high or low. I hope to do this soon in some form if I can find the time to burrow in the data further!
    It is interesting how the results in surveys like this are presented mainly from the perspective of who is doing really well. The fact is, if you turn the list upside down you have who is doing worst!
    I am fascinated by the leadership communication and culture that is present in agencies doing really well in these surveys versus those who aren’t doing so well.


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