A significant number of National Park Service employees are troubled with the agency, not satisfied with their senior leaders, and don't think the agency's leadership maintains "high standards of honesty and integrity."
Those are some of the disturbing contents of a service-wide employee survey conducted last year by the Office of Personnel Management. Additionally, the survey completed by 6,648 Park Service employees indicates that pay raises do not reflect job performance, that fewer than 40 percent of those respondents have a feeling of personal empowerment on the job, and that nearly 53 percent feel they lack the resources to satisfactorily complete their jobs.
Although 92 percent feel the work they do is important, as a whole the survey, when compared to those conducted in 2002 and 2004, reflects a general decline in morale and job satisfaction. Indeed, when "considering everything" -- their job, pay, work conditions and benefits -- just 50.8 percent said they are satisfied with the Park Service, down from 53.5 percent in 2004 and 57.3 percent in 2002.
Earlier this month I relayed details of another survey, one conducted by a graduate student at Duke University. It also found a great amount of discontent among Park Service employees.
The latest survey notes that and provides a broader analysis in that it compares the latest findings with those from 2002 and 2004. Sadly, just 62 percent of respondents said they would recommend the Park Service as a good place to work, down from 65 percent in 2004 and 68 percent in 2002.
Among the other findings:
* Fewer than half the respondents (45 percent) felt the skill level in their unit improved over the previous year, up from 41.6 percent in 2004 but down from 61.1 percent in 2002;
* Forty-four percent thought their workload was reasonable, down from 48 percent in 2004 and 55.4 percent in 2002;
* Just 29.7 percent felt promotions were based on merit, up slightly from 28.8 percent in 2004 but down from 38.3 percent in 2002;
* Just 39.3 percent said they were rewarded for providing "high quality products and services to customers, up from 37.1 percent in 2004 but about even with the 2002 response;"
* 58.3 percent of the respondents said their performance appraisal was a fair reflection of their performance, down from 65.9 percent in 2004 and 64.9 percent in 2002;
* Just 27.8 percent agreed that Park Service leaders "generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce," up from 25.1 percent in 2004 but down from 32.6 percent in 2002;
* On the question of whether Park Service leaders demonstrate high standards of honesty and integrity, only 39.7 percent agreed, up a bit from 2004 (36.2 percent) but down from 2002 (48.5 percent);
* Less than a third -- 31 percent -- said they were "satisfied with the policies and practices" of their senior leaders," although that was up a bit from 27.2 percent in 2004, and;
* Overall, 63.9 percent of the respondents said they were satisfied with their job, down from 71.3 percent in 2004 and 68.5 percent in 2002.
Of the 6,648 employees who responded, 56 percent were in field locations and 44 percent were in the Washington headquarters; just 24 percent of the responses were from supervisors, just 15 percent from managers, and none of the agency's executives took the survey.
A portrait of the Park Service, according to the survey, would be male-oriented (55 percent versus 45 percent), overwhelmingly Caucasian (85 percent), and lacking a relatively young contingent, as just 17 percent of the respondents were under 40 (just 2 percent were under 30).
In noting the results of the survey in a memo to all employees, Park Service Director Mary Bomar pointed out that "a brief look at the results shows an enormous affection for the Service and your passionate commitment to our mission. We couldn't ask for a better base to build on as we respond to the challenges of the survey, to the Centennial Initiative, and promise of the future."
"Your survey responses also showed deep concern about resources, about training, and yes, about leadership," she added. "Only by open and honest communication will we be able to address these issues and improve on them. It's time to put people in the spotlight, and it all starts with you, the great employees of this beloved agency."
Director Bomar also appointed a task force of agency employees to "review the survey results and develop an action plan by the end of May."
Here's where you can find the entire survey results: Download nps2006_humcapsurvey.pdf