These federal agencies are getting employee engagement and satisfaction right
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These federal agencies are getting employee engagement and satisfaction right

July 19, 2022 | Updated on January 8, 2024

On Wednesday, July 13, the Partnership for Public Service and Boston Consulting Group released the 2021 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings, the most comprehensive assessment of how federal employees view their jobs and workplaces.

The 2021 Best Places to Work government-wide employee engagement and satisfaction score decreased 4.5 points from 2020 to 2021, falling to 64.5 out of 100. This downturn came as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to disrupt the federal workforce and employees faced uncertainty about returning to the office.

Yet, the data showed many bright spots as well.

2021 Best Places to Work rankings

More than 150 agency leaders, federal employees, congressional staff and private sector leaders attended an awards breakfast at the National Press Club in downtown Washington, D.C., to celebrate the top-ranked and most improved agencies.

Partnership President and CEO Max Stier

Partnership President and CEO Max Stier kicked off the event by congratulating the agency leaders for the great work they do to boost employee engagement and satisfaction.

“Our country faces formidable challenges, making the work of government even more crucial,” Stier said. “To address those challenges, we need an engaged workforce. That’s why it’s important to have great leadership—to motivate public servants to solve the big problems.”

Loren DeJonge Schulman presents scores related to COVID-19 questions.

Loren DeJonge Schulman, the Partnership’s vice president of research, evaluation and modernizing government, provided an overview of the 2021 rankings and an analysis of our latest employee engagement and satisfaction data.

While there were several bright spots in the rankings, she called special attention to supervisors’ support. Across all levels of leadership, employees gave the highest marks to their supervisors with a score of 79.8. Agency leaders also received positive feedback for addressing employee well-being during the pandemic, resulting in a score of 85.2 out of 100.

As federal agencies place greater emphasis on recruiting a younger generation of employees, workers under the age of 30 scored high in most categories except for pay satisfaction.

Several federal agencies also improved their standing in the rankings, which can offer a roadmap for federal leaders that shows what’s working.

The U.S. Agency for Global Media improved by more than 20 points, the largest increase among agency subcomponents, while the National Endowment for the Humanities was the most improved small agency, jumping from 25th to second place. The Environmental Protection Agency jumped up 10 spots in the midsize agency category, and, among the large agencies, the Department of Veterans Affairs moved into the top five.

View the complete government-wide findings

Celebrating the top-ranked agencies

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough

Agency leaders from the top-ranked and most improved large, midsize and small agencies, as well as several subcomponents, accepted awards for their strong employee engagement and satisfaction scores.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough accepted the award for the most improved large agency—the only large agency to improve its score in 2021. He noted that this year marks the VA’s first time in the top five large agency rankings and attributed this success to the agency’s hardworking employees.

Kathy Lueders accepts NASA’s award from Jordan LaPier, Partnership senior communications manager.

Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate, delivered remarks in honor of the agency’s number one raking among large agencies for the 10th year in a row.

“Public service is a calling. And this is a reflection of our workforce’s dedication to that calling,” she said.

See the top-ranked agencies and subcomponents below.

A model for employee engagement

The Best Places to Work rankings give federal leaders a way to measure employee engagement and satisfaction, alerting them to signs of trouble and providing a roadmap to better manage our government’s most important asset—its employees.

The success stories of the top-ranked and most improved agencies serve as a model for leaders across government to improve the employee experience at their own agencies.

Visit for more insights into federal employee engagement and satisfaction across government, as well as services and resources to help agencies address challenges facing their workforce.

Photo credit: Joshua Roberts

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