Budget cuts, staffing reductions and an ongoing pay freeze have pushed federal employees’ satisfaction with their leadership to an all-time low, according to a new report. ()
Budget cuts, staffing reductions and an ongoing pay freeze have pushed federal employees’ satisfaction with their leadership to an all-time low, according to a new report by the Partnership for Public Service.
The leadership score fell from a 54.9 out of a possible 100 in 2011 to 52.8 in 2012, the lowest score since the organization began tracking the data in 2003.
Large agencies that saw the biggest drop in their scores include the Veterans Affairs Department — which fell 4.8 points from a score of 52.3 in 2011 to 47.5 in 2012.
The Agriculture Department dropped two points from 52.7 in 2011 to 50.7 in 2012.
The analysis stems from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, conducted by the Office of Personnel Management, and takes into account questions regarding fairness, empowerment, leadership and supervisors, according to the Partnership for Public Service.
Other agencies that saw steep drops in their leadership scores include:
The Federal Maritime Commission dropped 17.2 points from 53.3 in 2011 to 36.1 in 2012.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative fell 11.3 points from 47.0 in 2011 to 35.7 in 2012.
The Nuclear Regulatory Agency fell 4.4 points from 72.0 in 2011 to 67.6 in 2012.
David Dye, director of the federal human capital practice at Deloitte Consulting LLP, which helped create the report, said that while the results are not surprising in an atmosphere of budget cuts, the falling numbers serve as a message that managers need to take swift action.
“If we don’t take care of it now, things may only get worse,” Dye said.
He said managers need to clearly communicate agency goals and engage their staffs by holding town hall meetings, focus groups and other meetings to encourage employee feedback.
In its report, the Partnership suggests some other steps that executives can take to improve their agency leadership scores, including:
Recognize and reward a job well done, even if the reward does not involve money or cash incentives.
Hold managers accountable for progress by incorporating workplace satisfaction scores into their performance plans.
Empower employees by enabling them to think creatively without dictating how they should solve problems.
Dye said that higher leadership scores translate into less turnover and more productivity, and that it is possible to improve scores even in such a volatile environment for federal agencies.
For example, NASA improved its leadership score 1.1 points from 67.0 in 2011 to 68.1 in 2012 while the Transportation Department improved 2.3 points, from 50.3 in 2011 to 52.6 in 2012.