The Limits of Traditional FEVS Reporting

Despite collecting data from more than 450,000 federal employees in 2017, the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) is limited by the level of reporting available for that data.

The FEVS is administered each year by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and made available on their website in a limited, aggregated form. To glean anything meaningful from this data requires custom requests at a more granular level, and there are limits to what one can extract without additional effort or software. This can have an impact on the actions taken to respond to FEVS data.

How Agencies Typically Engage with FEVS Data

The FEVS has more than 90 questions that assess several areas of employee satisfaction. With the results of employee responses, an overall satisfaction score guides agency in how they are performing against the overall average of all federal agencies. There is not a lot more detail available than this without additional analysis.

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To ensure that employees will be forthright in their responses, OPM aggregates the data in a way which safeguards employee anonymity.  But this aggregation can make it difficult to extract specific takeaways when analyzing the data. Most will examine the averages of the 90 plus questions and focus on the top and bottom scoring questions.

The Limits of Spreadsheet Reporting

Working within a spreadsheet to evaluate FEVS data makes it difficult to do more than see top and bottom rated questions. Agencies are then left to effectively throw things at the wall and see what sticks when creating their action plans. It is a guessing game, mainly because the questions with the highest and lowest scores may not be the most important to overall engagement.

Some questions with middling scores might be substantially more important when weighting the overall results for a single department or agency. Without additional analysis to determine what these influential questions are, HR is left with no context for making recommendations or carrying out changes.

Improvement Over Time

Another area where limited data can hinder action is in tracking the cause of improvements or drop offs. When scores go down from one year to the next, what is causing that drop off? Current reporting makes it difficult to evaluate what might have changed in 2017 from 2016, or from any of several years earlier. Especially if major shakeups or changes occurred in an agency, it is important to be able to see how those shifts in policy or procedure impacted the overall satisfaction of employees.

Addressing FEVS Reporting Limitations

There are many ways in which FEVS data can be valuable to your organization to drive change and general improvement. By overcoming the innate limitations of the data on the OPM website, you can do much more with it in both the short and long term.

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