It's yet another year of low morale and dwindling workplace satisfaction in government agencies. The annual "Best Places to Work" rankings, released Tuesday by the Partnership for Public Service, show that federal employees' satisfaction and commitment are at their lowest point ever since the analysis began, in 2003. The government-wide employee engagement score is 57 out of 100, compared with the private sector's score of 72 out of 100.
"There has been a failure of leadership," says Max Stier, president and chief executive of the Partnership for Public Service. His organization compiles the rankings by analyzing data from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, which nearly 400 agencies and their subcomponents administered to their workforce this year.
The gap between worker satisfaction in the private sector versus the public sector has nearly tripled since 2010. As morale in the former has ticked upward following the recession, morale in the latter has continued to slide downward.
The difference is particularly pronounced when it comes to rewards and advancement. Only about 42 percent of federal employees surveyed said they were satisfied with the recognition they get for a job well done. Meanwhile, 61 percent of employees in the private sector say they are adequately recognized and rewarded.
"There's a sense that favoritism plays a large role," says John Palguta, the Partnership for Public Service's vice president for policy, in explaining a prevalent view among government workers that agencies don't consistently base rewards and promotions on merit.
Training is another area in which government workers show far less satisfaction than their private-sector peers do, with only 47 percent saying they have been adequately trained for their current role.
There is one edge government still appears to have, however: The data found that, despite all the negative sentiment, federal employees are more likely than others to enjoy their jobs.
Take a look at the 2014 agency rankings: