Survey names best places to work in federal government

Wednesday - 11/16/2011, 2:01am EST

John Palguta, vice president for policy, Partnership for Public Service

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See photos of the Best Places to Work awards ceremony.
By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Surface Transportation Board top the list of best places to work in the federal government.

The Partnership for Public Service released this year's rankings today, based on responses from the Office of Personnel Management's Employee Viewpoint Survey. The rankings reflect feds' perception of leadership, work/life balance and teamwork. The survey also asked employees if they would recommend others to work at their agency.

After ranking number one for the past two years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was bumped to number two this year by FDIC. FDIC was also the most improved large agency, followed by the Office of Personnel Management.

The Surface Transportation Board remains at the top of the small agency list, as it has for the past two years.

Large agencies

  1. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  2. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  3. Government Accountability Office
  4. Smithsonian Institution
  5. NASA
  6. Social Security Administration
  7. Department of State
  8. Intelligence community
  9. Office of Personnel Management
  10. General Services Administration

Small agencies

  1. Surface Transportation Board
  2. Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
  3. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
  4. Peace Corps
  5. Farm Credit Administration
  6. Overseas Private Investment Corporation
  7. Federal Labor Relations Authority
  8. Commodity Futures Trading Commission
  9. National Endowment for the Humanities
  10. Federal Trade Commission

Read more about the rankings.

This year, the most federal employees ever — 266,000 employees — gave feedback for the survey, said John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership, in an interview with Federal News Radio.

In all, the rankings include 33 large agencies, 34 small agencies and 240 agency subcomponents.

The rankings are a way for federal managers to reflect on their employees' perceptions and make changes, Palguta said.

"The bottom line is satisfaction, employee engagement [is] not set in stone," he said. "There are things agencies can do to influence it for the better, and certainly there are challenges down the road that will make it more challenging."

Federal employees are amidst a two-year pay freeze. Interestingly, governmentwide satisfaction stayed relatively unchanged from last year. Agencies on the whole scored 64 out of 100 on employee satisfaction and commitment, down from 65 last year.

Pay certainly factors into employee satisfaction, but more important is "effective leadership, and in particular, senior leadership," the report said.

How to use the data

Palguta said federal managers can take steps to engage employees using the data:

  • Understand what's behind the data. "The survey won't give you all the answers, but it'll tell you some questions to ask," Palguta said.

  • Share the rankings with employees, "including the good, the bad and the ugly."

  • If the agency has success, celebrate that success.

  • Create an action plan. Involve employees in the process.

  • Follow through. Let employees know you are addressing concerns and outline what will happen and how it will happen.