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In The Loop
Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 04/11/2013

Survey shows huge gap between federal leaders and workers


The latest survey of federal workers’ job satisfaction surely proves the immortal Mel Brooks line from “The History of the World, Part 1”: “It’s good to be the king.”

The problem is, it’s not so good to be a worker bee.

And when “the views of the leaders and their employees are at great variance, it . . . could mean that employees see real problems that the senior executives do not,” the survey by the Partnership for Public Service concludes.

The analysis, released Wednesday, is a slice of the Partnership’s annual Best Places to Work survey and compares 7,000 Senior Executive Service (SES) members to the rest of the country’s 2.1 million government workers.

In terms of job satisfaction and commitment, the SES members scored themselves 82.6 on a scale of 100, while lower-ranking folks only scored 64.

That’s to be expected, we’re told, since people at the top “enjoy more autonomy and have more control” over their work situation — not to mention the higher pay. Still, the survey found, “the difference is quite stark.”

SES members thought they were effective leaders, giving themselves a fine 78.9 rating. Their employees were not so enthused, giving their bosses a 55.8 score.

The gap hit a whoppng 31.1 points (79.7 to 48.6) on the “fairness” question: “Arbitrary action, personal favoritism and coercion for political purposes are not tolerated.” Seems like most federal workers think those things are indeed tolerated.

The gap between the leaders and the led on general attitudes toward their work was greatest at the Department of Homeland Security (26 points), the Department of Agriculture (24.2) and the Department of the Navy 23.3). It was smallest at the Department of Commerce (8 points), the Social Security Administration (11.5) and the Department of Justice (11.9).

There was a government-wide, 28.5-point gap between leaders and employees on the question of whether rewards are based on merit.

At the Department of Homeland Security, “almost eight of ten SES members” agreed that promotions were based on merit, the survey found. But “only about one in five” of lower-level employees thought so.

That huge disparity “is brutal, just brutal,” said Max Stier, President and CEO of the Partnership, and “indicates an organization in trouble,”

And furloughs probably won’t help matters.

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 04/11/2013

Tags:  Federal workers, survey, Senior Executive Service, Partnership for Public Service, Max Stier, Al Kamen, Emily Heil, In the Loop

 
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