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Federal Pulse Survey: Preliminary Insights From Our Pilot

Headshot of Pam Coleman, Associate Director of Performance and Personnel Management, OMB

In October, the President’s Management Council (PMC), together with the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Personnel Management, and the General Services Administration launched a pilot of the first-ever, Government-wide pulse survey. Pulse surveys are a widely used tool for getting quick “pulse checks” that allow leaders to hear directly from their employees—and that can help inform the Administration’s efforts to strengthen and empower the Federal workforce.

This first pulse survey invited roughly two million civilian employees across the 24 agencies represented by the PMC to respond to three topics focused on timely issues where it would be helpful for leadership to hear directly from employees: navigation of the ongoing pandemic and the safe, increased return of Federal employees to physical workplaces; equity and inclusion; and employee engagement and burnout. These topics were developed with the assistance of researchers at The People Lab at University of California, Berkeley. For each of the questions, employees could respond on a five-point scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree.

Before we send out the second pulse survey, we are publicly sharing some early insights from the first pulse survey via a data dashboard, which shows the survey results Government-wide, as well as by agency and component.

These insights are based on preliminary data—and that’s by design. These surveys are meant to provide quick snapshots in time that reflect views of employees who choose to respond—not a comprehensive assessment of the entire Federal workforce. Response rates naturally varied across agencies and components, and therefore this survey offers only a partial view into the Federal employee experience.

More data will be available once the second and third pulse surveys have been completed—but this first pulse nevertheless yielded a number of useful early insights. For example, the responses Government-wide to the question, “I trust agency leadership to do what’s right to protect employees’ health, safety, and wellbeing” were positive. However, it was also the question that showed the most variation across agencies and components. These types of insights can help inform how OMB and the members of the PMC engage leadership of Federal agencies, as well as what types of actions can be taken to ensure all Federal employees feel supported and empowered.

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We look forward to sharing more about this pilot. Please continue to check back at Performance.gov for further updates on the pulse survey effort.