Want to advance, feds? Try the private sector.

Federal, private-sector workers differ on information flow, training and feedback

Private-sector employees believe they have a better chance for advancement than federal employees do.

According to the Office of Personnel Management’s 2010 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, which was released July 12, the widest gaps are in workers' perceptions about receiving information from managers about the organization, training and being encouraged to work more efficiently.

Just 51 percent of government employees say they are content with the feedback they receive from their superiors, the report states. That's 14 percent below the private-sector response.

The survey compares the “strongly agree” and “agree” answers of 14 questions in separate polling. 

Sixty-six percent of private-sector employees said they were satisfied with the training they had received for their current position compared with 56 percent of government employees. 

The government is trying to encourage employees to find better ways to operate. The survey could offer some clues.

President Barack Obama launched the SAVE Award, which recognizes federal employees who come up with ways to make the government work better and more efficiently.

Three in five federal employees said they feel encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing things. In the private sector, though, three in four employees said they feel encouraged to be creative about their jobs.

Looking for advancement, private-sector employees believe they have a brighter path ahead than federal employees. According to the survey, 53 percent of private-sector workers are satisfied with the opportunities available to them for advancement, while only 42 percent of federal workers say they are happy with career advancement opportunities.

Of the 14 comparison questions, federal employees outpaced their private-sector counterparts only once. Two-thirds of federal employees said they believe they have a real opportunity to improve their skills in their organization, edging out the private sector by just 1 percentage point.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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