DHS Ranks Last In Employee Satisfaction, Engagement

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security trails all federal departments in employee moral again this year, continuing a trend of dissatisfaction at the agency expressed through the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS).

The Office of Personnel Management made 2015’s government-wide employee engagement index scores and the global satisfaction index scores public Tuesday, revealing that DHS ranked dead last in both employee engagement and job satisfaction among large agencies.

While the federal government as a whole experienced a one percent increase in employee engagement to 64 percent from 63 percent last year, DHS actually lost a percentage point in engagement, falling to 53 percent. Government-wide global satisfaction also saw a percentage point increase over last year to 60 percent, DHS meanwhile lost a percentage point, dropping to 47 percent.

“This survey data provides a powerful way for agency leaders to be able to think about, and evaluate, their engagement programs and office cultures,” OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert said of the review. “As leaders, we know that employee engagement drives performance and is closely tied to mission success in the Federal Government, which means better service for our customers, the American people.”

DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson expressed dismay at the survey’s results, saying it was not indicative of the work the agency has put into improving morale.

“To be sure, I am disappointed that our efforts to improve employee satisfaction at DHS were not reflected Department-wide in this year’s results of the Federal Employee Viewpoint survey,” he said. “I am disappointed but not discouraged.”

Johnson said the department “will not give up” and the pointed to the difficulties in improving the satisfaction of such a large agency that employs 240,000 people across 22 components.

The DHS secretary pointed to some positives in the survey’s subcategories, highlighting  that most employees say the work they do is “important” and put in the “extra effort.” He further touted some of the agency’s recent accomplishments including contributing to the security efforts for the Pope and United Nations, naturalizing 36,000 immigrants, aiding unaccompanied illegal immigrant children, and a Coast Guard seizure of more than $1 billion worth of cocaine.

“The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security are our greatest asset, and I and the other senior leaders of DHS are committed to improving employee satisfaction,” he said. “We will continue our efforts to make DHS a place where all employees feel valued and where their hard work is recognized and rewarded.”

He concluded that with new Under Secretary for Management Russ Deyo focused on leading an effort to improve employee conditions he is “confident that, next year at this time, our efforts, in collaboration with leadership across our components, will be reflected in Department-wide results of the Federal Employee Viewpoint survey.”


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