Perceptions of DEIA, Job Satisfaction, and Leadership Among U.S. Federal Government Employees

Christina Junior, Nicole A. Buzzetto-Hollywood, John H Padgett
Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology  •  Volume 21  •  2024  •  pp. 005
Aim/Purpose .
The quantitative comparative ex post facto research study covered in this paper aims to fill gaps in the literature by focusing on whether gender influences perceptions of leadership; diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA); and job satisfaction among federal employees within the Department of Justice using empirical data. The study also explores whether there are relationships between the perception of leadership and job satisfaction and the perception of DEIA and job satisfaction.

Since 2002, the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has administered the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), which measures employee perceptions of whether and to what extent successful organizational conditions exist in their agencies. Areas currently assessed within the FEVS include training, job satisfaction, leadership effectiveness, management effectiveness, work-life balance, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

The exploration of variations in perceptions of leadership, DEIA efforts, and job satisfaction among U.S. federal employees by gender and other criteria are crucial areas for research that are underrepresented in the literature. This is not only important for the United States federal government, which is grappling with high attrition rates, but also for public administrations around the world.

A quantitative ex post facto research design was used to analyze data from responses of U.S. federal employees working for the Department of Justice. Leadership, job satisfaction, and DEIA were all measured using aggregate scores from pre-determined question sets. Differences based on gender were analyzed using t-tests. Additionally, chi-squares and Spearman’s rank correlations were employed in order to explore whether there is a relationship between the perception of leadership and job satisfaction and the perception of DEIA efforts and job satisfaction among U.S. federal government workers.

The findings of this study aid in providing empirical data to support the need for federal government leadership to understand the impact of employees’ perceptions on their willingness to continue working in the federal government. The research study was grounded in Public Service Motivation Theory, which centers around factors that motivate individuals to pursue and maintain careers in the public service sector. More specifically, this study supported the public service motivation theory in that it looked at gender as a mitigating factor in public service motivation as well as explored the role of leadership and DEIA as a correlating factor to job satisfaction.

The results of this research have practical implications for federal government leaders interested in increasing employee motivation and retention and who should be considering the range of sociocultural and demographic characteristics that have been found in the research to impact employee perceptions and experiences.

The analyses found differences in perceptions of leadership, DEIA, and job satisfaction among United States Federal Government employees based on gender. Additionally, perceptions of leadership and DEIA were both found to influence job satisfaction. The first research question explored in this study used a t-test to consider whether the perception of leadership among U.S. federal employees differed based on participant gender with significance found. The second research question examined whether the perceived job satisfaction of U.S. federal employees differed based on gender, with statistical significance detected. The third research question focused on whether perception of DEIA differed when gender was explored and the results of the t-test indicated a significant difference in perceptions of DEIA when gender was considered. The fourth research question considered the relationship between the perception of leadership and job satisfaction. A Chi-square and a Spearman Rank Correlation were performed, and a relationship was found to exist. Research question five explored whether a relationship exists between the perception of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility initiatives and job satisfaction, with significance found following a chi-square and a Spearman rank correlation.

Recommendations for Practitioners.
Leadership behaviors of managers and the existence of DEIA policies play a critical role in employees’ job satisfaction and commitment. The recommendations for organizational leadership in the public service sector include addressing gender inequality in work practices and environments and cultivating more inclusive organizational cultures.

Recommendations for Researchers.
The lack of inclusion of socio-cultural norms in the research on public service motivation is a gap that has yet to be sufficiently addressed and is an area of research that should be explored.

Impact on Society.
Research on public service motivation in local, state, national, and international government employment can aid organizations in developing strategies for improving recruitment, selection, and retention in public service organizations. This information can advance scientific knowledge on transforming management and leadership practices across sectors.

Future Research.
Future research can expound on what has been done here by examining in more detail how various identities, and more specifically intersecting identities, within the LGBTQIA+ community as well as other historically marginalized groups, impact such factors as perceptions of leadership, job satisfaction, employee motivation and retention, and work-life balance. Perceptions of specific DEIA initiatives should also be further explored.
employee motivation, FEVS, job satisfaction, public service employee satisfaction, DEI, DEIA, leadership, federal government, public service motivation, gender and job satisfaction, leadership and job satisfaction
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