ATD Blog

Moving the Needle with the Largest Workforce on the Planet

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It’s hard to move the employee engagement needle in a large organization. The results of the 2014 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) bear this out. In spite of a concerted effort to improve scores across the federal government’s 2.1 million workers over the past four years, stats have remained stubbornly low. 

  • Only 62 percent of federal workforce respondents indicated they would recommend their organization as a good place to work—down from 69 percent in 2011.
  • Just 38 percent of respondents believe survey results will be used to make the agency a better place to work. This trend has steadily dropped from 45 to 38 percent over the past four survey cycles (2011-2014).
  • A mere 38 percent of the respondents believe that senior leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce.
  • From an information sharing and recognition perspective, only 46 percent of the respondents are satisfied with information provided by management and just 45 percent are satisfied with the recognition that is received for doing a good job.
  • Overall, only 50 percent of the respondents have a high level of respect for their senior leaders. 

Large private sector organizations have faced similar challenges as they have dealt with the realities of the post-recession business environment. And while government is unique in the size and scope of services it offers, some private-sector human capital strategies still could be worth exploring. 

  • Effectively support teams of employees from the front lines. Give them a voice. Soliciting ideas from those who are responsible for daily work and delivering on agency mission allows for input on practical ideas for improvement and elimination of unnecessary process while building a participatory culture.
  • Reduce overlap and leverage buying power. When overlap is identified and eliminated, more can be done with fewer resources and for less cost. Moreover, when common buying needs are established, a larger purchase can result in more bargaining power because volume is a highly sought-after commodity.
  • Use experts who can accelerate the development of practice and policy by drawing from practical and proven experience. At this critical inflection point for government human capital strategy, an outside expert can bring a broad array of proven best practices and can drive change, momentum, and progress without the concerns for internal idiosyncrasies.   

When it comes to developing and leading the world’s largest workforce, much can be gained by an open and thoughtful exchange between private- and public-sector human capital strategy executives. By taking the time to listen more closely to frontline employees, being more strategic in vendor selection and purchasing decisions, and employing experts with outside experience, government can move closer to its vision of being a model employer for the 21st century.

About the Author

Jeff Brody is the vice president of federal client solutions for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He specializes in transforming corporate culture to bridge human capital, organization mission, and desired outcomes. You can learn more about Jeff and The Ken Blanchard Companies at

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