The government’s top executives are far happier with their jobs and pay than rank-and-file employees, according to a report released Wednesday.
Members of the Senior Executive Service rated their satisfaction higher across every category measured, including pay, fairness, empowerment and awards for performance, according to the Partnership for Public Service report.
While SES members scored 82.6 out of a possible 100 in overall satisfaction, all other federal employees scored a 64.0.
The gap was highest in satisfaction with performance-based rewards and career advancement. SES members rated their satisfaction in these categories at 73.2 while that of all other federal employees was 44.7 — a 28.5 point gap.
The Navy, State Department and NASA had the most satisfied SES employees while the Commerce and Veterans Affairs departments had the least satisfied.
The report said that much of the higher satisfaction among executives can be explained by the higher level of pay and responsibilities SES employees have achieved.
“It is understandable that senior executives may have more positive perceptions of the workplace than all other employees because they have advanced to the highest levels of the organization and are the ones making many of the day-to-day decisions, creating a vision and enjoying more autonomy,” the report said.
But the report warned that too much of a gap could mean a fundamental disconnect between high-level employees and subordinates that could harm the ability of agencies to correct issues and solve personnel problems.
Dan Helfrich, leader of the Federal Human Capital Practice at Deloitte Consulting LLP, which helped create the report, said the gap between SES and lower levels is a “wake-up call” for top-level managers to be more active in engaging employees on issues such as performance appraisals, goal setting and agency objectives.
Agencies also need to make sure they are training and developing managers who can connect with employees, especially during troubled times. “I call it a disconnect, but it’s a disconnect that is addressable,” Helfrich said.
The study is based on responses to the 2012 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey administered by the Office of Personnel Management.