To Improve FEVS Scores, Take a Deeper Dive Into the Good, the Bad and the “Eh”

Whether you’re managing a small office or an entire organization, it’s smart to look at improving your Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) scores across the board — not just the negative areas. Making incremental changes that are meaningful and measurable in all areas can help improve employee engagement and morale. However, to do so, you first have to uncover the underlying reasons for the scores.

““Be sure to probe for what lies behind the survey results.”

— Office of Personnel Management

Data is great, but a deep-dive analysis can help you understand what the results mean. For example, scores may show that employees aren’t satisfied with the policies and practices of senior leaders. But what does that mean? At what level of leadership? Which policies and practices?  


A thorough deep-dive analysis will help uncover what employees were thinking when they rated areas. It can pinpoint specific challenges and strengths, connect relevant themes across the survey, and identify trends and opportunities. Focus group discussions and one-on-one interviews can help you get to the heart of the matter. With the analysis completed, you can start making visible progress in the areas that are driving the results.


Creating a strategic action plan is an opportunity for leaders and employees to work together in an open and transparent way to identify solutions to effect change and achieve goals. A good action plan delineates each step, including designated leads and resources, timeframes, milestones and desired outcomes. It also will include any other initiatives already underway and tie into any overarching organizational goals. The action plan will serve as a basis for implementing the interventions as well as a guide for communicating to employees and the organization. To determine what should go into your action plan…


Many people will naturally want to jump to areas with negative scores. But it’s equally important to understand what your organization is doing well and why. Look at the areas where you’ve made significant improvements and what contributed to them — specifically, what practices, policies and programs are already working well. By understanding your organization’s strengths, you can be sure you continue to do what is positively impacting the employee experience. If you only focus on the negative, you may slip in areas where you’re seeing positive momentum and real change. A few of the actions in your action plan should focus on maintaining continuity where employees are reacting positively.


Neutral responses where people neither agree nor disagree can be areas of great opportunity. These scores indicate that employees have no strong opinion either way — things aren’t good or bad, they’re just “eh.” And the people who give neutral ratings could be swayed to the positive or the negative, depending on what action is or isn’t taken. With a minor effort, you may be able to move employee opinions from neutral to positive (agree), which is much easier than moving them from negative (disagree) to positive (agree). So, look at the neutrals as part of the equation to develop a few targeted actions that can build satisfaction and engagement in areas where employees think things are just “ok.”


Once you’ve taken a few of the easier actions on the positives and neutrals, dive into the negatives that are within your control. For example, while you may not be able to take on revising the government pay structure, what you do have control over are things like career development, training, and growth opportunity within your organization.  The challenges are where the hard work has to be done. But if you’ve done a deep dive to identify root causes, you can start taking incremental steps to chip away at the underlying challenges.


At Suntiva, we have the expertise to analyze the survey results, whether it’s data sets within an agency, office or division, or a comparison across an entire organization. Our proprietary approach enables us to analyze scores quickly. We perform facilitated focus groups and interviews to get to the root cause of the behaviors and actions that are driving the FEVS results. Then we leverage our combination of organizational development skills, behavioral science backgrounds and business acumen to 1) identify solutions and the levers to pull that will have the biggest impact, 2) develop detailed action plans to drive results, 3) communicate each of the steps and the outcomes along the way and 4) help you create sustainable change and achieve success.


Greater collaboration, communication and visible progress result in improved morale, engagement and relationships across an organization. And you’ll see a more satisfied workforce, increased employee retention and stronger recruitment capabilities as the bad gets better, the “eh” becomes good, and the good becomes excellent!

Written by Wendy Myers and James Squires