Starting the Conversation on Employee Engagement

December 11, 2018

Following a presidential transition, federal employees can experience uncertainty as new and unfamiliar leaders come on board, as well as anxiety about the direction of their agencies and the continuity of their own work portfolios. While some level of insecurity is unavoidable following a presidential transition, leaders can take high-value, low-cost steps to keep their employees engaged in their work.

In the next few months, the Office of Personnel Management will release the results of the 2017 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The FEVS, administered annually in May and June and used by the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte to generate the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings, sheds light on how federal employees perceive their workplaces—from the quality of their supervision, to the opportunities for training and development, to whether managers encourage a healthy work-life balance.

While the FEVS is a valuable resource for leaders—from Cabinet secretaries to front-line supervisors—it is only the beginning of the conversation. The annual survey and the Best Places to Work data highlight areas where employee engagement is waning, but often do not provide sufficient insight into the root causes of dissatisfaction, or the preferences and motivations of different segments of a diverse, multi-generational workforce. To improve the work experience and strengthen employee engagement, leaders should probe deeper during frequent conversations with employees held throughout the year.

Employees should have the opportunity to provide feedback through multiple forums, including electronic pulse surveys, digital apps, routine in-person check-ins, “stay interviews” and focus groups. By probing deeper, leaders can gain insight into employee pain points, determine whether dissatisfaction is isolated or shared across employee segments, and develop well-informed, customized solutions.
Our newly released guide is intended to help leaders who receive their FEVS and subsequent Best Places to Work data, want to maintain momentum around what’s working well and improve what’s not, but might ask themselves, “Where do I go from here?”