Employees of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Intelligence Community and Office of Personnel Management can all rejoice: They’re at agencies named Wednesday at some of the best places to work in the federal government.
But leaders and workers at other agencies, including the Justice Department, should be worried, according to the analysts who compiled data for the Best Places to Work in Federal Government survey, published annually by Partnership for Public Service.
In a Washington Post live Q&A on Wednesday, the Partnership’s Janelle Callahan chatted with readers about why the Justice Department, among other agencies, fell in the rankings.
“We don’t know specifics, but what we do know from our analysis is that leadership is the number one driver of overall satisfaction,” Callahan said. “That is, employees’ views of leadership are strongly linked to overall satisfaction.”
One reader gave an example, saying that when the office leadership “goes off course,” unhappiness in the workplace is sure to follow.
“Our Office of Administration continues to be, by far, the least enjoyable part of our department,” the reader said. “Building services are bleak, and implemented practices at times seem wasteful…How can these circumstances be improved, short of gutting and imploding the division?”
Based on what Callahan said, the answer isn’t to offer employees more pay.
“Through our analysis, we found that pay is important, but not nearly as important as effective leadership and skills/mission match.”
Instead, agencies can improve work conditions by making visible efforts to get feedback from employees. “Some of the high-ranked agencies did things like host town halls and employee focus groups to get at the root causes of frustrations,” she said.
Surprising to some readers, the Smithsonian Institution continues to be ranked as one of the best federal agencies to work. Callahan said this is again due to strong, effective leadership.
“Smithsonian is also an agency where employees are very passionate about the mission and the work they do.”
To get more details on the study and rankings, read the chat transcript.
Do you agree or disagree with the rankings and Callahan’s analysis? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.