Despite pay freezes, program cuts and the possibility of reduced benefits, most government workers are satisfied with their jobs.
Eight five percent of the 266,600 government workers who participated in the Office of Personnel Management’s 2011 Employee Viewpoint Survey said they “like the kind of work they do” and just over 91 percent said the “work I do is important”. Just over 70 percent said they are satisfied with their job.
However, the survey also portrayed growing dissatisfaction, as well. The percentage of employees satisfied with their pay decreased from 65.8 percent in 2010 to 62.5 percent, which most likely reflects frustration with the two-year pay scale freeze implemented in December.
“There was a decrease in items related to pay, and that’s to be expected,” said John Foley, director of planning and policy analysis at OPM, referring to the two-year federal pay freeze. “Gratifying to us is that we didn’t see a drop-off in people’s commitment to work.”
The number of government employees who say they have enough people, materials, funding and other resources to get their jobs done dropped from 50.1 percent in 2010 to 47.8 percent in 2011.
When it comes to performance management within government agencies, 47 percent do not believe pay raises are adequately linked to performance, and only 36 percent said promotions in their workplace were merit-based. Forty-one percent of respondents said their offices do not deal adequately with poor performers. When comparing government jobs with private sector jobs, the surveyed participants gave significantly lower marks to government jobs when it comes to satisfaction with their managers, organization, job opportunities and training.
The survey was conducted in April and May of 2011, shortly after a government shutdown was narrowly averted and budget cuts were implemented.
John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership for Public Service, was surprised more satisfaction scores didn’t fall this year. “So far, we’re not seeing major damage,” Palguta said. “But that could change in 2012, if we start seeing real cuts with real impacts on people, either in terms of folks getting shown the door, or agencies not being able to keep up with their workloads, or sustained pay and benefit cuts. There’s more to come.”
The findings are similar to a ClearanceJobs.com survey conducted in August. Civil servants participating in that study cited job security, predictable upward mobility, benefits, and pride in government service as their top reasons for preferring working directly for Uncle Sam. And while the majority of respondents in that survey noted a preference for government contracting over government work, insourcing trends and concerns about the future of defense contracting mean government work remains attractive to some workers.