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Federal Managers Can Harness the Power of Employee Engagement


Wed Jun 26 2013

Federal Managers Can Harness the Power of Employee Engagement

There is little doubt that high levels of employee satisfaction and commitment lead to a more effective and productive workforce. Yet it is no easy task for public managers to keep employees motivated and engaged these days, given the increased workloads and decreased resources, pay freezes, furloughs, and negative public attitudes toward government.

While federal employees continue to provide exemplary service, it is troubling that their overall satisfaction and commitment is decreasing. In the most recent Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings produced by the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte, the government-wide score for employee satisfaction declined by 3.2 points, from 64 out of 100 in 2011 to 60.8 in 2012. This is the single largest drop since the rankings were first published in 2003.


Despite the downward trend, the good news is that federal leaders and managers can improve employee engagement. The first step is to examine the data to better understand what is affecting employee attitudes and to focus efforts on key areas that can make a difference.

A colleague likes to say that the Best Places to Work survey results don't give you all the answers, but help you know what questions to ask. Once an agency has reviewed the data, it is important to follow up with a more qualitative approach through employee feedback and action planning discussions to determine root causes, as well as solicit ideas for solutions. We refer to this as the "Action Planning Process."

These are challenging times for the federal government. Stagnant or declining budgets and increased demands for federal services are likely to be the norm at most agencies for some time to come. One tool that can help in this situation is the ability to tap into that discretionary energy that engaged employees bring to the workplace.

The Best Places to Work rankings offer a tool to not only measure employee satisfaction and commitment, but a framework to do something about it. For more information on how to improve employee satisfaction at your agency contact Mark Doboga at [email protected].

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