A Look Across the Federal Government
As part of the Best Places to Work analysis, the Partnership and BCG measure views on eight aspects of the employee experience and provide a government-wide score and individual agency scores for those specific issues. The eight workplace categories are effective leadership, employee skills-mission match, satisfaction with pay, teamwork, innovation, work-life balance, how employees are recognized for performance, and how effectively agencies supported employees and navigated the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, on which the Best Places to Work rankings are based, was amended in 2020 and omitted some questions that appeared in previous years. Due to these omissions, we were unable to calculate strategic management, support for diversity, and training and development workplace category scores as we have in the past. Further, the performance-based rewards and advancement workplace category is now referred to as recognition to better reflect the smaller number of FEVS questions used to calculate its score.
The 2020 Best Places to Work data shows that employees responded favorably to how their agencies handled work-related issues during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, with the COVID response category garnering a government-wide score of 86.1 out of 100. This was the best performing category, followed by employee skills-mission match at 75.9 and work-life balance at 75.7. Employee skills-mission match had been the government’s highest scoring category for every year prior to 2020.
Within the COVID response category, the highest score of 88.6 out of 100 was recorded for two subcategories– employee well-being and the provision of job resources. The employee well-being subcategory measures the extent to which employees felt their organizations supported their physical and mental well-being while the job resources subcategory measures the extent to which employees received equipment and technology for remote work, training for new work processes and assistance in fulfilling their responsibilities during the pandemic.
The COVID agency performance subcategory score, which measures the extent to which employees feel that their work units operated effectively during the pandemic, is 85.8. The supportive leaders subcategory, which measures whether employees feel their supervisors and senior leaders communicated effectively and prioritized their well-being during the pandemic, is 81.4.
Leaders Have a Big Impact on Employee Engagement
Many issues influence employee engagement, but leadership continues to be the key driver for federal employees as it has been every year since the Best Places to Work rankings were first launched in 2003. This category encompasses employee views on supervisors, empowerment and senior leaders.
While federal leaders stepped up during the pandemic to provide personal and work-related assistance to their employees, broader, longstanding leadership shortcomings on employee engagement measured by other survey questions remained a constant.
The effective leadership score for 2020 is 64.2 out of 100, the second lowest Best Places to Work category score after employee recognition (61.5). Within the effective leadership category, supervisors were given the highest score of 78.0 out of 100 followed by senior leaders (57.8) and empowerment (57.9).