Federal workers dish out failing grades to agency leaders

November 17, 2011

Working in government and feeling discouraged with your leadership team lately? You’re hardly the only one.

According to the 2011 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings, released Nov. 16, many government agencies received the equivalent of “failing grades” from their own employees when it came to being satisfied on the job.

Even the top-ranked Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which jumped to the lead spot as the best large agency to work for, received an overall employee satisfaction score of only 85.9 out of 100. This is more than a 30-point satisfaction increase at the FDIC since 2005, the first year it was ranked. But satisfaction at other agencies only goes downhill from there.

Government-wide, the average grade was 64 points out of 100, a 1.5 percent decrease from 2010. This puts the overall satisfaction of government workers about six points lower than that of workers in the private sector.

And this does not just reflect the view of a few isolated and disgruntled employees. The Best Places to Work rankings are based on data from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, which polled more than 266,000 federal workers between April and May 2011. The rankings were then compiled by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization in Washington, D.C.

While many dynamics influence an agency’s ranking, the report shows that the employee satisfaction grade is most critically correlated to a single component: senior leadership.

For the sixth year in a row, the efficacy of senior leadership emerged as the No. 1 factor that makes or breaks federal employees’ overall satisfaction with their jobs. And this year there appeared to be more “breaking” than “making” in that department. While the FDIC and Nuclear Regulatory Commission scored relatively high marks in the effective-leadership category , the average agency’s score was 49.3 out of 100—which puts effective leadership among the lowest-rated workplace categories that federal employees were able to grade.

Low as it is, though, that score has at least a meager bright side: It’s nearly 1 percent higher than last year’s.

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Read more:

PHOTO GALLERY | Top 10 places to work in government

VIDEO | How to lead a top-ranked agency

Fed Coach: Improving your agency’s ranking

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