REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Federal civilian employees have a way to make their voice heard, even during a time of mass teleworking and social distancing.The 2020 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, administered by the Office of Personnel Management, will be available to civilian employees through Oct. 27. This year’s survey questions reflect the unique workplace challenges of 2020, including a section on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted employee work loads and wellbeing. The survey theme is “Empowering Employees. Inspiring Change.”“FEVS is an opportunity for employees to confidentially voice their opinions about work experiences, organizations and leaders,” said Max Wyche, the Human Resources (G-1) deputy chief of staff at Army Materiel Command. “It’s one of the tools we have to get direct feedback from the workforce and to drive plans toward improving the workplace.”With 10 major subordinate commands, AMC is the Army’s largest civilian organization and has the highest numbers within the Army for employee participation in the FEVS. In 2019, more than 22,000 AMC employees – or 38% of the workforce – participated in the survey, representing a 7% increase from 2018. Within AMC Headquarters, 66% of 570 employees responded.“No other four-star headquarters exceeded our 66 percent participation rate,” Wyche said. “This year, the Army-wide goal is 50 percent and we hope to surpass that goal throughout the AMC enterprise.”Overall, last year’s results “indicated Army civilians remain positive about their work, their organizations and the Army mission,” said Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy in a memo about FEVS.While AMC Headquarters response rates were high, Army response rates were low in most of its organizations. Those rates must be improved so the Army can “collect valuable feedback while we execute the Army People Strategy to build cohesive teams and maximize the talents of our people,” McCarthy said. “Army civilians are critical members of the Army team, and an engaged workforce will enable us to acquire, develop, employ and retain talented individuals for our Army Civilian Corps, while enhancing readiness.”The larger the number of survey participants, the better information the Army and AMC leaders have to determine opportunities for improvement. The FEVS provides data for consideration when developing employee programs and policies. This year’s addition of COVID-19 questions provide data to inform policy and guidance on pandemic response, teleworking and other issues, and to assess mission continuity and delivery of critical services during a pandemic.“Survey results provide valuable insight for leaders into AMC's current strengths and challenges by looking for patterns and themes,” Wyche said. “It allows us to prioritize our efforts and limited resources towards the areas where we're seeing opportunities and weaknesses, and help us to build on our strengths. It gives us insight into programs that work well within our different organizations so we can potentially replicate those successes enterprise wide.”As a result of last year’s survey, AMC leaders and supervisors have been more aware of how to use the AMC recognition system to reward high performance, and efforts have been made to communicate with employees on how they can obtain promotions and additional opportunities.“At the headquarters, we are working to improve the transparency of hiring and selection practices, and developing methods of eliminating unconscious bias in candidate evaluations,” Wyche said. “In the area of awards and employee recognition, we've initiated various recognition practices such as the Commanding General's recognition walk-arounds, and highlighting employee contributions and accomplishments at the CG's bi-weekly announcements. We've also increased our emphasis of providing monetary and time off awards outside of the annual performance appraisal cycle.”Once the COVID-19 pandemic caused maximum teleworking, the FEVS continued to influence the approach leaders and supervisors took toward employee management, with the focus on improving engagement outcomes regardless of where employees work, Wyche said.In support of the AMC global enterprise, Headquarters G-1 employees have provided FEVS data and analysis to subordinate organizations so “they can see where they are succeeding and where they can improve,” Wyche said. “The solutions to many of the challenges our commanders and directors face require them to tailor programs and procedures to local conditions. So we've empowered our subordinate organization leaders with the authorities they need to address recruitment and retention challenges and build effective work/life balance programs.”As in year’s past, this year’s survey will be emailed to employees from OPM (evar@opm.gov) with a unique link to take the FEVS. Survey questions solicit feedback on critical work-life areas that drive employee engagement, satisfaction and retention. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete the survey.AMC employees with questions about the FEVS, should contact Charmaine Harrington at Charmaine.b.harrington.civ@mail.mil. Technical issues can be directed to evar@opm.gov. For additional information on the 2020 FEVS, visit the OPM website at https://www.opm.gov/fevs or watch the FEVS video at: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/766354/2020-army-fevs-participation-campaign.