A report by the Partnership for Public Service says the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. ranks No. 1 among 30 large agencies on employee satisfaction with pay. The Department of Veterans Affairs is last on the list. At the FDIC, 83.3 percent of surveyed employees said they were satisfied, compared with just 53.3 percent at VA.
Government-wide, 59.1 percent were satisfied in 2011, a drop of 6.1 percent from the year before.
(The Partnership for Public Service and The Washington Post have a content-sharing relationship.)
The data don’t explain why satisfaction levels vary so greatly, said Max Stier, president and chief executive of the partnership.
“Agencies are facing the same headwinds but respond in different ways,” he said.
One thing is clear: Despite all the attention given to federal pay, particularly with repeated attempts by Republicans in Congress to further reduce compensation, salaries aren’t the primary driver in overall federal worker satisfaction.
“In short, pay matters and is a concern for federal employees, but meaningful work and leaders who empower and motivate employees have a bigger impact on overall job satisfaction and commitment,” the report says.
The study is drawn from the partnership’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government study, which uses data from the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.
Jo Schuda, a VA spokeswoman, suggested one reason for the department’s low rating is that VA “draws highly skilled medical professionals in large numbers for whom the private sector may compete by offering higher salaries.”
VA has company among agencies with low pay-satisfaction ratings. On the list of large agencies, the Labor Department “had the biggest decrease in worker satisfaction regarding pay, registering a 12.2 percent drop from 2010 to 2011,” according to the report.
Stephen Barr, a Labor spokesman (and former Federal Diary columnist), said that “there are a number of factors to consider” for Labor’s poor showing, although the reasons he cited apply to most agencies. “We have operated under a pay freeze for two years. Last year, specifically, we implemented the government-wide policy that limits performance bonuses for all employees. Many employees are at the top of their career ladder and ineligible for further promotion.”
Alexander Bastani, president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 12 at Labor, has a more pointed view.
“The employees at the United States Department of Labor are deeply disillusioned that Secretary Hilda Solis has fought ferociously to prevent enforcement of the Lilly Ledbetter Act (which facilitates lawsuits in pay discrimination cases) in her own department. This failure has had a profound affect on older African American females.”