OPM offers agencies helping hand in perking up employee morale

Tuesday - 1/28/2014, 12:09pm EST

Fueled by budget cuts and pay freezes, federal employee satisfaction across government plunged last year, according to the Office of Personnel Management's annual Employee Viewpoint Survey.

Now, OPM says it's here to help agencies turn around those sagging satisfaction scores.

"Sequestration, furloughs, pay freezes, and budget reductions all likely contributed to this downturn, but as federal human capital leaders we must do what we can to address these issues," Joseph Kennedy, OPM associate director of Human Resources Solutions, wrote in a Jan. 24 memo to agency HR directors.

The most recent version of the survey, released last November, showed overall employee satisfaction fell to 59 percent last year, driven in large part by a sharp drop in satisfaction with pay.

OPM's HR Solutions unit "has the expertise to help your agency achieve measurable improvement on important metrics," Kennedy wrote in the memo, including improving employee satisfaction and engagement.

For example, OPM helped the U.S. Coast Guard boost job satisfaction scores and increased the percentage of employees who would recommend the Coast Guard as a good place to work using a different survey, the Organizational Assessment Survey. OPM administered the survey, gathered the results and recommended a " bottom-up strategy" for the Coast Guard to make improvements.

Kennedy said OPM can do the same for agencies using the latest FEVS results.

OPM's offer to assist agencies in improving the morale of their workforce comes even as the HR Solutions office is planning to downsize its own.

Last week, OPM announced it was laying off more than 300 employees — more than 50 percent from current staffing levels — from the HRS office starting in March to deal with budget reductions and because the office is phasing a major program, the Nationwide Testing Program.

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