Results from the government’s three largest departments of the 2020 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey show familiar areas of concern, especially with regard to lack of rewards for good performance and lack of management attention to poor performers in their workplaces.
The Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs departments—which together employ about two-thirds of the 2.1 million federal employees apart from the Postal Service—have released either full or summarized results even as OPM still has not released government-wide figures from the survey conducted last fall.
For many years, one of the survey questions on which responses are the most negative is whether steps are taken in their work unit to “deal with a poor performer who cannot or will not improve.” That again had the highest negatives at DHS and DoD, 37 and 30 percent, respectively; that was not among the results the VA released.
Once again among the most negative responses at all three were whether “differences in performance are recognized in a meaningful way,” whether “senior leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce,” and whether the survey results “will be used to make my agency a better place to work.”
Also similarly, employees expressed much more positive views of their immediate supervisors than of senior officials, with “my supervisor treats me with respect” the item receiving the most positive response 87 percent at DoD, 85 percent at DHS, and 82 percent at VA.
Each of the three largest departments meanwhile reported an increase from 2019 in the “employee engagement index,” which pulls together responses from questions relating to leadership, supervisors and the intrinsic work experience, and is closely watched by the central management agencies and by Congress. That score rose at DHS from 62 to 66; at VA from 70 to 72; and at DoD from 70 to 74. The government-wide figure for 2019 was 68.