The Office of Personnel Management’s 2021 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (OPM FEVS) results have arrived, showing that Federal employees became less satisfied and less engaged with their jobs in 2021.

The OPM FEVS survey found overall employee job satisfaction fell five points across the Federal government last year – from 69 out of 100 in 2020 to 64 in 2021. Overall job satisfaction also fell, dropping one point, from 72 in 2020 to 71 last year.

Additionally, the survey found that pay satisfaction dropped six points across the Federal government, from 67 in 2020 to 61 in 2021. Notably, Federal government civilian employees only received a one percent pay raise in 2021.

OPM warned that several factors could make the year-to-year figures “less comparable” in last year’s survey. For example, OPM said the 2021 survey marked the second year the survey was administered in the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as opposed to the usual spring administration. Additionally, the survey was cut one week short – from six weeks to five weeks – to avoid traditional employee holiday vacation time.

In a letter accompanying the survey results, OPM Director Kiran Ahuja noted that the survey’s results were “similar to trends in the private sector.”

“The pandemic has strained the public and private sectors alike, including Federal employees,” Ahuja wrote. “But the 2021 OPM FEVS survey results show that during a second year of unprecedented challenges, Federal employees demonstrated remarkable resilience while continuing the critical work of the Federal government on behalf of the American people.”

Despite satisfaction and engagement drops, Federal employees believe they are continuing to meet their agency’s mission needs. The items with the highest levels of agreement in the survey were “employees in my work unit meet the needs of our customers” at 88 percent agreement, and “employees in my work unit contribute positively to my agency’s performance” at 86 percent.

However, the item with the lowest level of agreement reveals how Federal employees truly feel about the OPM FEVS survey results, with just 40 percent agreeing that they “believe the results of this survey will be used to make my agency a better place to work.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.