OPM has released full results of last year’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey showing increases in employee engagement and satisfaction amid high levels of teleworking, meanwhile suggesting that it will soon issue new guidance on telework.
No timetable was given for such guidance, although it likely would not be issued at least until OPM has a confirmed director. That could be soon: nominee Kiran Ahuja is get a vote this week in a committee just a week after a friendly confirmation hearing, with a full Senate vote to follow.
When asked at the hearing about long-term telework policies, Ahuja cited the need for “balancing the safety of the federal workforce” with “the obligations the agencies have to the American public” as pandemic-related restrictions continue to ease.
While some agencies previously had released results regarding their own workforces and some government-wide figures also emerged, the release of the full FEVS results paints a more comprehensive picture of how the pandemic affected the federal workplace. Among the key issues it raises is how much credit should be given to increased telework for rises in the “employee engagement index” and “global satisfaction index” scores even as many employees reported disruption to their normal working patterns and heavier workloads.
The engagement index rose by four points to 72, with increases in all three components: “leaders lead,” “supervisors” and “intrinsic work experience.” Each of those three in turn are based on responses to a number of questions in those areas. The satisfaction index also rose by four points, to 69, reflecting increases in positive responses to questions about job, organizational, and pay satisfaction.
Those gains came despite 18 percent of employees saying their work demands increased greatly due to the pandemic and another 30 percent saying demands increased somewhat, in contrast to only 2 percent who said demands decreased greatly and 7 percent who said demands decreased somewhat; the rest were neutral.
Further, 9 percent deemed the pandemic extremely disruptive, 14 percent very disruptive to their work and 30 percent called it somewhat disruptive, with the rest about evenly split between saying it was disruptive only slightly or not at all.
At the same time, more employees teleworked, and did so more often, than before the pandemic. The percentage of employees who do not telework because they were not approved for it even though their job would allow for it fell from 19 to 2 percent at the peak of the pandemic, while the percentage of those who telework every day rose from 3 to 59. The percentage who telework at least three days a week doubled to 10 percent. In each case those numbers fell a bit by the time the employee filled out the survey last fall.
Among teleworkers, 79 percent said they were satisfied or very satisfied while only 10 percent said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the program in 2020. In 2019, the figures had been 60 and 19, with the remainder in both cases being neutral.