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OPM soon will be releasing the government-wide results of the 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), and I am happy to report that we are seeing some positive trends in the numbers this year, although we still have more work to do. Participation in the survey was up – the response rate was 50 percent, up from 47 percent in 2014 – and employee engagement index scores improved at most agencies. The Administration’s focus on engagement is having an impact, and I’m looking forward to sharing the results in more detail soon. In the meantime, I’d like to talk about why employee engagement is so important, and to share a success story from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Employee engagement drives performance and is closely tied to mission success in the Federal Government. An agency that engages its employees ensures a work environment where each employee can reach his or her potential, which in turn has a strong impact on the agency’s ability to achieve its mission goals. Individual agency performance contributes to success for the entire Federal Government, which means better service for the American people.

Engagement occurs in every office between employees and their supervisors and should be a focus at all levels of an agency, from front-line employees to the leadership. The People and Culture plank of the President’s Management Agenda was created, in part, to shine a light on engagement and to support agencies’ efforts to strengthen an organizational culture of employee engagement and mission performance.

This past year, each agency was asked to appoint a senior accountable official responsible for improving employee engagement. Agencies then worked closely with OPM’s FEVS team to analyze and interpret their reports. Each agency received detailed, customized reports with data broken down by department, program, and office, with the goal of enabling agencies to examine internal engagement at the “local level”.

The experience of HUD shows just how powerful a tool the FEVS can be. This past year, HUD increased its engagement score by 5 percentage points. It also increased its global satisfaction score by 6 percentage points. This impressive growth came about as a result of the agency’s commitment to increasing internal engagement.

In sharing their story with OPM, HUD officials credited several efforts with making the difference. They created new collaboration tools, and repurposed some existing ones, for employees to share ideas with their leaders. One such tool is HUDConnect, an internal social media platform that gives employees the opportunity to reach out to leaders and each other. They can recommend process improvements or new technologies. The agency also implemented regular emails to the workforce and quarterly town hall meetings as ways to open lines of communication.

Every employee was provided the FEVS scores for the agency as well as analyses of the data. HUD encouraged senior leaders to use www.unlocktalent.gov – a dashboard OPM created last year that puts each agency’s survey data into visual formats and helps leaders to better understand what the numbers mean.

Importantly, at HUD, change came from the top. Secretary Julián Castro made engaging employees a priority – and he made sure employees knew their feedback would be taken seriously. He and Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti challenged the department to increase participation in the survey from 51 percent to 75 percent, and it ultimately achieved a 74 percent response rate. Coloretti placed a strong emphasis on responding to employees’ requests through internal tools like HUDConnect and Switchboard, two ways to directly solicit employee feedback. She conducted deep-dive conversations with program offices to create a set of initiatives to build a stronger HUD. These initiatives were shared with employees agency-wide and voted on; from this feedback, there are several projects happening now that are expected to improve HUD’s processes and systems and to strengthen its staff.

These strategies are backed up by our experience with Federal agencies collectively.  Leadership involvement, improving internal communications, and enabling employees to have more input into how their organization functions are proven approaches to boosting employee engagement and performance.

I congratulate everyone at HUD for their commitment to employee engagement, for maximizing the value of FEVS as a tool to drive change, and for embracing evidence-based strategies in order to achieve progress. Well done.

There are many other agency success stories in this year’s FEVS results, and I look forward to sharing more of them soon on the OPM blog.

2015 FEVS   This is the first in a series of infographics highlighting results from the 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS).   The infographic positions the FEVS as a powerful tool for agencies and introduces the metaphor of a classic wrench.   Title:  Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey HUD shows how powerful a tool the FEVS can be.   TABLE 2014 and 2015 FEVS scores for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for three indices: Response Rate, Global Satisfaction, and Engagement Index.   HUD's FEVS Response Rate in 2014 was 51% compared to 74% in 2015.  HUD's FEVS Global Satisfaction score in 2014 was 51% compared to 57% in 2015.  HUD's FEVS Engagement Index score in 2014 was 57% compared to 62% in 2015.    Bottom half of infographic is a visual of interconnected gears titled


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