ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – With less than three weeks left, the Department of the Army is encouraging civilian personnel to participate in an online survey to gauge the workforce’s views on various topics, helping leadership develop and implement better policy.
It’s called the Office of Personnel Management Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, better known as FEVS.
The survey, which began Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 3, takes about 25 minutes to complete, giving employees a high-visibility venue to voice their opinions about their workplace environment. The survey is conducted annually. Many of the COVID-19 pandemic items from the 2020 FEVS have been retained but, this year, there are new areas up for comment, such as diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.
“This is your opportunity to candidly share your perceptions about personal work experiences, your organizations, and your leaders,” stated Matt Sannito, deputy to the commanding general, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, in a recent organization-wide email.
“The goal of the FEVS is to identify information needed to build on ASC’s strengths and improve our challenge areas. FEVS participation is crucial because the information received directly impacts and identifies the future initiatives supporting the Strategic Human Capital Plan and ASC All Things People,” Sannito said.
Eligibility to participate has broadened this year.
All Army civilians and local nationals who are full-time or part-time employees onboard as of April 2021 are eligible to participate. Although the annual survey is voluntary, employees may use official time to complete it. And, all responses are kept confidential.
This year, 50% of the eligible population will be sampled and will only be sent to Army.mil email addresses.
In Sannito’s email, he provided these FEVS results from last year:
o 35% of ASC workforce believe the results of the FEVS will be used to make the agency a better place to work.
o 77% of ASC workforce during the COVID pandemic felt leadership supported, had empathy, was concerned with individual health and personal safety, along with open lines of communication.
o 60% of ASC workforce feels that senior leadership are committed, are honest, and show integrity towards the workforce.
o 65% of workforce would recommend ASC as a good place to work.
As a result of the 2020 survey, Sannito illustrated feedback translated into concrete changes and areas of focus in the workplace:
o Strategic and streamlined recruitment solutions to reduce the hiring time.
o Mentoring, training, development and coaching opportunities at all levels.
o Personal health, resiliency, personal/physical safety and emotional/spiritual wellness.
o Knowledge management tools to empower current and future workforce.
“We strongly encourage participation in the 2021 FEVS to continue our momentum of open, honest and transparent communication across the command,” Sannito stated in his email. ”Your feedback will help drive change within the organization, but we won’t know how you feel until you tell us.”
This year’s survey is back to the norm of 50% sampling, pointed out ASC’s Melissa Peterson, Civilian Personnel, G-1 (Human Resources).
While participation has previously been limited to permanent employees, it is now also open to the employee categories of temporary, term, and local nationals, she said. Peterson added the Army continues to push for military personnel to be included in order to obtain a more comprehensive look at the total workforce.
However, she said the 2022 survey is slated to be offered to 100% of the eligible workforce and scheduled for the May/June timeframe.
In an email from OPM, it was pointed out that employee input has a direct impact on how the federal government continues to navigate the challenges of operating in a pandemic, as well as how that feedback is a continued driver of policy review and change.
“Your participation in the survey will help agency leadership understand how employees continue to work through the COVID-19 pandemic, help your agency prepare for the future and contribute toward assuring future OPM FEVS are responsive to government priorities,” a recent OPM email to the workforce stated.
Regarding COVID-19, survey results showed that in ASC:
o 16% felt that the pandemic was completely disruptive to their work performance.
o 54% felt that the pandemic was slightly or not at all disruptive to work performance.
o Based on ASC’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, 70% believe ASC will respond effectively to future emergencies.
In regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, under the premise that workforce believes their work unit meets customer needs, contributed to organization performance, adapted to changing priorities, successfully collaborated and achieved their goals, 96% agreed or strongly agreed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but during the pandemic that fell slightly to 90%.
Likewise, six key FEVS questions were related to how senior leadership and immediate supervisors responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey identified 77% of employees felt supported, were shown empathy, felt leadership’s concern with individual health and personal safety, and had open lines of communication.
“It can be perceived that, because of senior leadership and supervisors’ positive response to the COVID pandemic, the workforce felt personally/physically safe, that there were minimal disruptions to their performance, that mission was minimally impacted and are overall happy with how the organization sustained mission readiness during a contingent work environment,” Peterson said.
Peterson emphasized that a big goal for ASC is to increase the awareness that FEVS does make a difference and it’s a multifaceted tool.
“It lets ASC know how we are doing; it tells AMC across their footprint what needs to be changed, and it tells lawmakers what the workforce needs as far as impacting policies for remote work/telework/work life balance/engagement levels/diversity and inclusion concerns, etc.,” she said. “FEVS is the format for the workforce to change how the government does business, impacting policies … if we don’t tell them what we want/don’t want, we can’t change anything.”
Despite this, there are some areas needing improvement as far as leadership perception,, as some survey results showed regarding the Leaders Lead index.
The perception is that ASC is currently not meeting a presidential agenda requirements of at least 67% of a favorable response.
“While we did increase by 4%, we still have a lot of work in that area,” Peterson said. “The Leaders Lead index identified 40% of ASC’s civilian workforce perceives that ASC’s senior leaders, second line supervisor and above, lack commitment, honesty, and integrity towards the workforce.”
Leadership is a critical, foundational building block that will lead to organizational success, and is identified as an actionable item in the ASC Strategic Human Capital Plan 2022 Action Plan, Peterson said.
“I put a positive spin on it with 60% believe in senior leaders, but 40% is a high number; we are putting a precedence on Leadership Training starting in 2022, due to the continued FEVS results,” she said.