Federal employee morale has fallen, but what does that mean?


The latest Employee Viewpoint Survey by OPM – the largest ever conducted – showed employee satisfaction falling across agencies in a number of areas.

For example:

Satisfaction with pay fell 3.7 percentage points to 58.8 percent of responses, down from 62.5 percent in the 2011 survey. Since 2010, satisfaction with pay has declined seven percentage points from 65.8 percent.

The only area where employees were happier was in telework, which seems to be a winner when it is implemented fairly and widely at agencies.

Now the problems with morale are probably not that hard to determine, with a continuing pay freeze and budget cuts stretching resources quite thin at many agencies.

So my question to all of you is, what do these numbers mean? How is morale at your office and is it down? What does low morale mean when it comes to your job, or that of your co-workers?

Feel free to post in the comments below or you can email me at amedici@federaltimes.com.



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  1. I work at the VA. I supervise employees. I am not allowed to let them telework even though they could all easily telework at least 2 days per week (and save gas money). The pay issue is really undermining the foundation of employee morale. I hear more about it as time goes on. I already know of at least 3 local losses due specifically to pay. The people we lost all had degrees and excellent resumes.

  2. I work for the Dept of Justice (U.S. Attorney) and the option of telework has not even been MENTIONED to us. And the pay issue makes us feel like we (federal employees) are the downfall of the American economy. The times are changing….

  3. Almost half the people here are over retirement age. We have people thathave been here as long as 50 years and don’t seem to have any plans to retire. I guess their morale is fine and the pay is good enough for them.

  4. Morale at my agency is very low. It is hard as a supervisor to keep morale up, especially since productivity can be directly connected to morale. IMHO, this is setting up those agencies w/o telework or with the worst morale for losing the best people first if hiring ever increases. Employees have a long memory and will only remain with those agencies that treated them the best during the lean times.

  5. Blaming Federal Employees for the deficit and freezing their pay is a purely political action. The amount of money saved is miniscule compared to what could be saved through REAL budget and entitlement reform. Federal employees are begining to suffer because they are a scapegoat for our country’s irresponsible spending!

  6. The morale problems I’ve encountered have nothing to do with pay or teleworking, those seem to be MAINLY D.C. issues. Our issues in the field are not being able to travel for meetings and conferences, being outside the loop of decisions, having to cut back on important programs related to our work, having to tell customers we can’t visit with them as we don’t have vehicles and it costs too much of our own money to use private vehicles. Also a big issues is too many programs changing on a constant basis and everyone in D.C. thinks THEIR program should be our highest priority! When despite it all we do the absolutely best job we can under these circumstances then we’re bashed by some anti-Government Conservative poster/elected official because we “don’t care” or are “Lazy.” Honestly it is all getting old, I saw myself working in my job another 13-15 years, now not so sure when I reach my MRA.

  7. I will most likely be retaliated against for my post because that’s the FBOP way, but I believe I work for the worst government agency, the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Morale is nonexisting due to mismanagement. This agencey is losing far to much of the taxpayers money to its own staff. We are required to follow policy and the law, but management doesn’t. Inmates are treated with more dignity and respect than the staff. Congress needs to look at the millions of dollars being lost due to arbitrations and EEO lawsuits. It’s a very real costly problem.

  8. Of course there’s low morale, when there’s been no COLA in the last few years to alleviate rising prices of everything. Follow that with continual negative PR of other agencies misusing $$$$, everyone else that has been following rules has to bear the brunt of that negativity and cut back even more. Yes, there is the telework option to help alleviate gas prices/wear and tear on POV’s, but then you have the continual issue of underperformer’s in the office that gets swept under the rug rather than dealt with in a positive manner. If the underperformer’s were terminated, take that $$$ and re-distribute it in the form of a small pay increase – because everyone else is doing the underperformer’s job duties anyway – perhaps morale would improve. I have been in 2 government agencies and there are always the issues of underperformers that are left untouched, and there’s always a cloud of resentment and hostility in the work environment because nothing is done with these people. If it’s been in two agencies I know it’s got to be widespread, sometimes it seems the government agencies are rife with underperformers… look at the productivity of congress!!

  9. You can’t keep taking negative actions against federal workers and imagine they wouldn’t feel bad about it. Decreased morale is the result of frozen pay, no promotions, limited resources-material and personnel, cuts to Social Security, benefits, retirement, possible RIFs, BRACs, furloughs, cutbacks, etc. The reward for being a dedicated and loyal fed worker these days, is do (much) more with less and like it!! No wonder those who can either retire or move to a private job. It’s damn scary to be a federal employee these days!

  10. Well, could it be b/c when cuts to staff are being made, highly paid management (of which there are too many) are not being touched? So the lower level staff now reduced has to do the work of those who have left. Also, maybe b/c we also see money wasted on unnecessary travel and training, free parking and expensive unneeded phone, again to higher paid staff. Also, bias in promotions and who gets salary or position cuts. Should I mention constant replacement of furniture and computers when the old ones are fine? I don’t think some heads of agencies have any concept of saving money, at least if it is not their own. Now that they have to cut, they are cutting in the wrong places. One should ask, why did they hire all these people in the first place if they are not now really needed.

  11. tiredofthelies on

    I am so disheartened about everything being political. Our Department was trying to get our agency to take a certain action on a procurement type issue. We showed them our cost analysis based on our previous expenditures. The Department provided us with several sets of numbers, all manipulated to different products, and stated we would save a lot of money based on not having to use as much manpower supporting the program. Then there’s a meeting with GSA, who says that we will still need the same amount of manpower. Bottom line is that our agency will be paying more for a lesser product, because that products fits in with the Department’s political agenda. At least be honest about why you are making us do this. They can lie and there are no repercussions.


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