Winners and Losers in the Race for Engagement

The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government results show job satisfaction and commitment rose among federal employees from 56.9 in 2014 to 58.1 in 2015. If anyone is counting, this is an increase of a whopping 1.2 points.

This overreaction to such news is typical in the federal sector where incremental progress is valued over radical improvement. It is called to-date thinking:

• Measuring how far we have come.
• Patting ourselves on the back.
• Focusing on what we have achieved.
• Answering the question where have I been.
• Starting something.

Despite the somewhat good news on the engagement front for federal employees, a much deeper dive into the numbers reveal troubling trends.

Private sector job satisfaction and commitment still outpace public sector job satisfaction and commitment by nearly 19 points.

Senior Executive Service satisfaction remains higher than the employees they supervise by nearly 25 points.

For the 7th year in a row, Asians were the most satisfied racial group.

For the same time period, American Indians/Alaska Natives were the least satisfied racial group.

Heterosexual employees had satisfaction and commitment scores that beat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employee ratings by nearly 5 points.

For the 7th year in a row, male federal employees are more satisfied than their female counterparts.

For the 4th year in a row, older federal workers were more satisfied than their younger colleagues.

Something is amiss here. Almost every job satisfaction and commitment indicator that relates to diversity and inclusion is in an unhealthy state; so much for an inclusive federal workforce. I guess the more things change the more things stay the same.

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Mark Hammer

With the exception of some of the finer demographic distinctions, that’s the same pattern observed elsewhere, including Canada. I just received the most recent Australian PS report, released last week ( ), where results similar to the FEVS are discussed. I hope to read through it on the bus ride home and later tonight. I don’t expect it to be any different.

Sometimes, employee sentiments are a function of the particular management style within an organization, but sometimes they are a function of something endemic to a category of organization, including size and/or mission.

One thing I *will* concur with you on, though: management tends to make a big whoop-de-doo over 1% changes in anything, and is generally happier on most indices.