The Big Picture

Government-wide Analysis

The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings offer the most comprehensive assessment of how federal employees view their jobs and workplaces. They provide insight into issues ranging from leadership and pay to work–life balance. The rankings alert leaders to signs of trouble and provide a roadmap to help improve organizational performance and better manage our government’s most important asset—its employees.

The vast majority of the data used to develop the scores and rankings was collected by the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey April through June 2014, approximately six months after the partial government shutdown.


Government-wide Job Satisfaction and Commitment Drops for Fourth Year

The 2014 Best Places to Work data show a decline in federal employee satisfaction with their jobs and workplaces for a fourth consecutive year. Government-wide, federal employee job satisfaction and commitment fell 0.9 points to a score of 56.9 out of 100. This represents the lowest overall Best Places to Work score since the rankings were first launched in 2003. In contrast, private-sector employee satisfaction improved by 1.3 points in 2014 for a score of 72, according to Hay Group.

The steady drop in employee satisfaction from 2011 to 2014 may be the result of a number of factors. These include the 2013 across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration; three years of pay freezes; hiring slowdowns; numerous management missteps that garnered negative attention and criticism; and a partial government shutdown that resulted in the furlough of 850,000 employees.

Among individual federal organizations, 55.8 percent saw their overall employee satisfaction and commitment ratings decrease in 2014, compared with 75.4 percent in 2013. Specifically, 44.4 percent of large agencies, 60.9 percent of mid-size agencies, 62.1 percent of small agencies and 55.3 percent of the subcomponents experienced a decline in employee satisfaction in 2014.


PRIVATE SECTOR COMPARISON

The 2014 data show a 15.1-point gap between the federal government and the private sector when it comes to employee opinions on their jobs and workplaces, and this gap has nearly tripled since 2010, when there was only a 5.6-point difference.

Hay Group’s private-sector benchmarks are based on data collected from more than 6.7 million employees at 400 companies around the world in a wide variety of industries. As the chart below shows, when it comes to worker satisfaction with their jobs and organizations, federal agencies have lagged behind the private sector for the six years we have studied the issue.

In addition to the government-wide index score, Hay Group provides comparative data for 10 questions that are in the FEVS. The federal government has an edge over the private sector when employees are asked if they like the kind of work they do. However, the private sector outperforms the government in each of the other nine questions, including the issues of leadership, teamwork, training and the opportunities for performance-based awards and advancement.

Index Scores (Out of 100)

Click the link below to view the Best Places to Work agency rankings.

Sector Change from 2013 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2007 2005 2003
Federal Government -0.9 56.9 57.8 60.8 64.0 65.0 63.3 61.8 62.1 60.5
Private Sector 1.3 72.0 70.7 70.0 70.0 70.6 71.2

CATEGORY SCORES

The 2014 government-wide data show a decline in employee satisfaction in six of the 10 workplace categories examined by the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte. The biggest decreases came in the categories of effective leadership, which had a score of 50.4 out of 100, and strategic management, with a score of 51.2. Both categories fell 1.4 points. Within the leadership category that includes several levels of management, the rating for senior leaders declined by 3 points to 42.4, the lowest score for this group in the history of the rankings. (Senior leaders are defined as the heads of departments and agencies as well as their immediate leadership teams; the teams typically include career executives and political appointees.) Employee attitudes toward pay, which had fallen from a score of 63 in 2010 to 50.3 in 2013, rebounded by 2.2 points to 52.5 in 2014. This follows a decision by Congress to grant a 1 percent salary increase for federal employees in 2014 after a three-year pay freeze.

Government-wide Scores by Category (Out of 100)

Click the links below to view agency rankings by category. Click on the column headings to sort by change or scores by year.

Category Change from 2013 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2007 2005 2003
Effective Leadership -1.4 50.4 51.8 52.8 54.9 54.5 52.7 51.5 51.5 49.1
Effective Leadership: Empowerment -1.0 42.8 43.8 45.8 48.5 49.1 48.6 47.9 47.4 45.4
Effective Leadership: Fairness -0.7 51.9 52.6 53.0 54.3 53.3 49.1 46.6 47.5 46.4
Effective Leadership: Senior Leaders -3.0 42.4 45.4 46.7 49.3 49.0 47.3 45.6 45.3 42.7
Effective Leadership: Supervisors -0.3 61.5 61.8 62.3 63.9 63.3 61.9 61.5 61.8 61.7
Employee Skills–Mission Match -0.8 74.4 75.2 77.3 78.6 78.9 78.8 78.1 77.9 78.8
Pay 2.2 52.5 50.3 55.0 59.1 63.0 60.4 61.3
Strategic Management -1.4 51.2 52.6 54.7 56.8 56.4 57.2 56.0 56.4 58.1
Teamwork -1.0 62.9 63.9 64.4 65.3 65.3 71.2 70.2 71.0 67.9
Innovation -0.5 58.9 59.4 61.5 63.2 63.3
Training and Development -0.4 55.7 56.1 59.3 60.7 61.1 61.5 59.8 60.8 57.7
Work–Life Balance 0.0 58.2 58.2 60.0 60.2 60.7 62.1 61.4 62.9 63.6
Support for Diversity 0.2 55.0 54.8 55.5 57.8 56.9 60.5 58.0 58.6 60.4
Performance-Based Rewards and Advancement -0.4 40.8 41.2 43.4 45.9 46.4 45.6 44.4 43.8 42.9

Click on the graph legends to highlight selected data series. Hover over the graphs to view data by year.


DEMOGRAPHIC SCORES

The 2014 Best Places to Work rankings offer valuable insights into employee views of the federal workplace, including a look at the perspectives of workers from different demographic groups.

Government-wide, men are marginally less satisfied with their jobs than women, with a score of 59.5 out of 100 compared to 60.1 for women. However, scores for women decreased by 1.3 points since 2013 while scores for men decreased by only 0.8 points.

Examining the scores by age, there is a 3.3-point gap in the views of federal workers under the age of 40 and those over 40. The under-40 age group experienced a 5.1-point decline in job satisfaction in 2014, while those over 40 saw their score drop by 3.8 points. The decline in both age groups coincides with a decrease in the overall government-wide score.

The 2014 data show a 12.6-point gap between the highest- and lowest-scoring racial and ethnic groups. Employees who classify themselves as Asian are the most satisfied with their jobs and workplaces, registering a score of 65.5, 8.6 points above the government-wide score of 56.9. They are followed by black employees (62.0), white (59.9), Hispanic or Latino (58.7), Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders (57.6), American Indian (55.4) and multiracial (52.9). On average, scores for each group decreased by 1.8 points compared to 2013.

The data also show that members of the Senior Executive Service (SES), the federal leadership corps, have a job satisfaction score of 81.8—a 1-point increase from 2013. The members of SES also score far higher than the rating of 59.5 for all other employees.

Government-wide Index Scores by Demographic (Out of 100)

Click the links below to view agency rankings by demographic. Click on the column headings to sort by change or scores by year.

Demographic Change from 2013 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2007 2005 2003
Female -1.3 60.1 61.4 63.9 67.1 66.1 63.6
Male -0.8 59.5 60.3 64.3 66.4 67.9 63.1
40 and over -3.8 57.7 61.5 64.6 66.5 66.8 63.3
Under 40 -5.1 54.4 59.5 63.4 67.8 68.8 63.3
American Indian or Native American -2.2 55.4 57.6 58.3 61.2 63.2 61.3
Asian -1.8 65.5 67.3 68.8 71.7 71.2 67.3
Black or African-American -1.2 62.0 63.2 64.9 67.8 66.8 64.5
Hispanic or Latino -2.2 58.7 60.9 64.4 67.4 68.8 65.1
Multi-racial -1.0 52.9 53.9 56.9 59.8 55.8 55.7
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander -3.5 57.6 61.1 62.9
White -0.8 59.9 60.7 64.4 66.8 67.6 63.5
Employees with Disabilities -1.4 54.5 55.9 58.0
Veterans -1.0 58.5 59.5 63.1
Senior Executive Service (SES) 1.0 81.8 80.8 82.6

Click on the graph legends to highlight selected data series. Hover over the graphs to view data by year.

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