Issue Briefs

Following is the summary of a recent report from OPM on federal employees’ views of their benefits, based on a survey taken in late 2015-early 2016.

With each administration, the Federal Employee Benefits Survey (FEBS) has provided comprehensive picture of how employees rate, understand and prioritize the benefits available to them. In 2016, some of the most noteworthy takeaways are listed below.


The prevalence of benefit programs remained consistent from 2013 to 2016 FEBS administrations. The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) have proven to be the most prevalent according to survey respondents.
Reported enrollment in both the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) notably increased between 2013 and 2016. Reported enrollment in dental insurance increased by about 12 percentage points and enrollment in vision increased by 11 points.
Across all programs, reported enrollment numbers increased since the 2013 FEBS. No program showed a decrease in enrollment between 2013 and 2016.

Importance ratings trend closely with enrollment results. TSP, Retirement Annuity, and the FEHBP received the highest overall importance ratings, which align with the enrollment results discussed earlier in this report.
Rather than focusing solely on enrollment ratings, examining importance, adequacy and value ratings by enrollees can provide more helpful insight into how well some programs are performing. For example, even though enrollment in the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS) and Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) is lower than other benefit programs, around 40 percent of respondents indicated that the availability of the Health Care Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA) and FLTCIP is either “extremely important” or “important” to them.
Reported tobacco use rates generally remain steady from 2013. In 2016, 10.6 percent of respondents indicated tobacco use within the past 30 days. In 2013, 11.6 percent of FEBS respondents reported tobacco use within the past 30 days.
Awareness of the FEHBP Tobacco Cessation Benefit among FEBS respondents is higher than in 2013. In 2013, 10.4 percent of FEBS respondents reported awareness of the benefit, in comparison to 16.3 percent in 2016.

In general, results from year to year remain consistent for benefit program enrollment and importance ratings. Beyond the core set of measures, content has evolved to ensure that timely and useful information is being collected. In 2011, the FEBS incorporated items about tobacco use and cessation and health status demographics due to the increased government wide focus on health and wellness. In 2016, the design of the survey focused on improving response accuracy by redesigning some rating items, streamlining the health and wellness section, learning how employees educate themselves about their benefits, and adding items to address potential the potential impact of benefit availability on recruitment and retention. The FEBS continues to be an important employee feedback tool and will continue to expand in order to collect relevant employee perspectives that can help drive benefit program development and administration.