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Federal workers' job satisfaction increased in 2020 despite pandemic: survey

Federal workers' job satisfaction increased in 2020 despite pandemic: survey
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Job satisfaction among federal employees increased last year despite nearly half reporting increased work demands amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey released Monday by the Office of Personnel Management. 

Out of the nearly 625,000 federal workers who participated in the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey between September and November, the report found overall job satisfaction at a score of 72 points, an increase from 69 in 2019. 

Additionally, 84 percent of respondents said they believed their coworkers cooperated together “to get the job done,” up from 77 percent the year before. 

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The survey also recorded employee satisfaction with their specific organization at 66 points, compared to 61 in 2019. 

The improvement in employee satisfaction comes even as 48 percent of federal workers said their work demands increased “greatly or somewhat” due to the pandemic, with 23 percent saying that the pandemic was “either extremely or very disruptive to their ability to do their work.” 

The pandemic’s safety restrictions and lockdown orders also led to an increased number of federal employees working from home, with a record 59 percent saying they teleworked every day during the peak of the pandemic. 

Before the pandemic, just 3 percent of federal employees had teleworked on a daily basis, according to Monday’s report. 

Kimberly J. Wells, the Office of Personnel Management’s survey and analysis group manager, said in a call with reporters that while the increased satisfaction “may seem a little incongruent in the context of the time,” the results indicate an increased sense of accomplishment among government workers amid the pandemic. 

“One of the things that the federal workforce really wants to do is to make sure that we’re contributing in a meaningful way to society. I do think we see some results in the survey that support that perspective,” Wells said, according to The Washington Post

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This trend can also be seen in how positively employees viewed the support they received from supervisors and senior leaders during the pandemic. 

For example, Monday’s report found a 58 point satisfaction with the information workers received from supervisors on what was happening within the organization, with the same level of satisfaction also reported for workers’ “involvement in decisions that affect your work.” 

However, the survey also indicated possible areas for improvement across organizations, with 19 percent saying that timely communication about COVID-19 infections at agencies was necessary but not available to them. 

About 17 percent of workers said the same of physical health resources at agency worksites, with 13 percent saying more access was needed to employee training on health and safety protocols.

Updated Wednesday at 9:17 a.m. to show that the survey measured employee satisfaction.