JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — More than 163,000 Airmen voiced their opinions in the online Air Force Climate Survey conducted May 11 – June 22, with results indicating Airmen are satisfied with unit performance and trust their leaders, Air Force Personnel Center officials said today.
Conducted every two years, the climate survey is designed to measure attitudes toward the work environment, with questions organized within factors such as satisfaction, trust, unit performance and resources. Participants include active duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard members, and appropriated and non-appropriated fund civilian employees.
“This survey is one of the most valuable tools we have as leaders. Airmen cannot focus on mission-critical tasks in an unhealthy environment, so we use survey results to identify areas that need attention,” said Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley. “Thanks to the many Airmen who took the time to communicate with us on these issues so we may better focus our efforts where they will do the most good.”
Leaders at every level use the survey results to ‘tap the pulse’ of the organization, said Nicole Gamez, AFPC manpower directorate. At the total force level, this year’s results held steady, with small increases or decreases in different areas. More than 80 percent of survey respondents say they are satisfied with their jobs and 95 percent believe their unit is successfully accomplishing its mission.
“Overall satisfaction numbers are similar to last year, which is good news. On the down side, our Airmen indicate they’re working hard, but resources continue to be an issue,” Gamez said.
Along with resources, recognition continues to be one of the lowest rated areas across the total force.
“Morale is affected by the ongoing struggle for limited resources. It is my challenge – every Air Force leader’s challenge – to find innovative ways to accomplish the mission, in spite of resource challenges, without overburdening our people,” Donley said. “Morale is also affected by recognition, or lack of it, and that is an area where every Airman can have a positive impact.”
A confidential outlet where Airmen can express their concerns, the survey provides leaders with information specific to their area of responsibility.
“Leaders who don’t know about problems can’t fix them. The survey results include candid feedback from members about what needs improvement within the unit, as well as a guide to help leaders act on the information,” said Col. Kent White, AFPC director of Manpower. “Analysts here in the manpower directorate provide reports to each squadron, group, and wing with 10 or more participants so leaders get information pertinent to their units.”
When leaders act to improve the climate they simultaneously send a message to their people that their feedback is critical and Airmen come first. In addition to improving working conditions, that positively affects morale and helps increase participation in future climate surveys, White said.
This year, 28 percent of the total force participated, but that number doesn’t tell the whole story.
“That participation rate is actually strong at the aggregate Air Force level considering external factors, like operations tempo and workload,” Gamez explained. “Still, the primary purpose of this survey is to provide actionable feedback at the unit level. The more people who respond, the more results we can provide, so we’re already thinking about the 2014 survey and how to get more Airmen involved.”
Once leaders have their unit reports, they’ll have time to review and digest the information, but are expected to brief the results to their units within 30 days.
“One way we support Airmen is by communicating openly with them about problems and solutions. Results from previous surveys indicate members whose commanders used the previous survey results positively had substantially higher levels of agreement across the board,” said White.
Commander’s calls and unit briefings offer leaders the perfect opportunity to open the floor for suggestions to overcome challenges and improve recognition.
“You have the smartest Airmen in our history working for you right now,” Donley said. “Take advantage of their experience, creativity and innovative spirit.”