Federal employees who believe their performance ratings are too high are just about as likely as to have certain negative views of their work as those who consider their ratings too low–and both are more likely to hold negative views than those who consider their ratings to be accurate, MSPB has said.

It said that its 2016 merit systems survey–whose results are being released in phases–found 20 percent of federal employees believe their rating does not fairly reflect their performance, about the same as in a similar survey five years earlier and consistent with the findings of the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint survey. The MSPB went a step further than the FEVS, though, by breaking those employees into separate groups of rating being perceived as too high or too low.

“It is not unreasonable to assume that an employee who is unhappy about the fairness of the rating is unhappy about other things in the organization … What was surprising was that the attitudes of the employees who felt they received a higher rating than they deserved were closer to those of the underrated group than they were to the employees who felt they were correctly rated,” it said.

Employees who felt their ratings were either too low or too high were more likely than those who felt their ratings to be accurate to fall lower on the engagement scale to have lower passion for their work. They also were more likely to report higher emotional exhaustion, lower work unit camaraderie, lower agency mission success, and being poorly fit to the job.

In each case, both those who considered their ratings too high or too low were closer to each other in those negatives than they were to those who considered themselves rated accurately–by twice as much, regarding engagement and passion for their work.