Two federal departments that controversially made unilateral cuts to their telework programs were among the worst performers in this year’s survey of federal employees’ happiness and engagement, according to a Government Executive analysis. In the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, released last week by the Office of Personnel Management, the Agriculture Department saw a 6-point drop on its score on the global satisfaction index, a measure of employees’ happiness with pay, their individual job and the organization as a whole, along with a 3 point drop in employee engagement. In March, the Agriculture Department announced that it was severely restricting its telework program, reducing the amount of time employees can work remotely from four days a week to one, or two per pay period. In May, the department proposed a new telework policy that reduced the amount of time employees could work remotely from up to full time down to one day per week. The Agriculture Department declined to comment on its viewpoint survey results, but defended the decision to reduce telework. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., an advocate for telework at federal agencies and the sponsor of a bill to protect the practice, demanded that both departments restore their telework policies to pre-2018 levels. “The federal employee survey results demonstrate that is in fact the case. I call on the administration to act immediately to restore telework programs in the interest of recruiting and retaining a talented workforce capable of delivering the vital mission of the federal government.”
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