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Having an engaged workforce is critical to each agency’s ability to achieve its mission of providing excellent service to the American people. The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) results provide a window into how engaged and satisfied the Federal workforce is.
Today, the Office of Personnel Management is releasing agency-level results of the 2016 FEVS. The results are available at UnlockTalent.gov, the comprehensive, interactive visualization dashboard that helps government leaders make data-driven decisions and design initiatives to improve overall engagement and employee satisfaction at Federal agencies.
Last week we previewed the FEVS data which, for the second year, shows Federal employees are more satisfied with their jobs and feel more engaged in their workplaces.
Below, two of my colleagues whose agencies have worked hard to respond to their FEVS results outline what steps they took to sustain and improve their engagement scores. Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, shares the work he and his team have done to improve their FEVS results and Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, describes how his agency consistently maintains high engagement scores, Their perspectives are just two examples of the continuing commitment of leaders across government – working with their staffs and in partnership with labor – to improving employee engagement of their workforce.
From Secretary Johnson:
“Improving morale within the Department of Homeland Security has been one of my top priorities as Secretary. I have said many times that, this year, morale will improve. Our aggressive campaign to improve morale across this 22-component, 232,000-person workforce has produced results.
Today the Office of Personnel Management released the 2016 results for the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). These results reflect that employee engagement at DHS, after six straight years of decline, went up three whole percentage points this year – from 53 percent in 2015 to 56 percent this year. This is no anomaly. It is regarded by OPM as statistically significant, and compares favorably to the 1 percent increase across the entire U.S. government. This increased morale at DHS was the result of some very hard work, and is the largest increase of any Cabinet Department our size.
Hopefully, these improved results are the beginning of a new, upward trend. I hope the next Secretary of Homeland Security continues to make employee morale a top priority.
Of particular note:
From NASA Administrator Bolden
“NASA is proud to have been named the “Best Place to Work” in the Federal Government (among large agencies) for the past four consecutive years by the Partnership for Public Service. Using the FEVS as a focal point for guidance, over time we have developed a positive work culture with a high level of employee engagement through deliberate, proactive initiatives.
I’ve always told our employees that their voices matter. At NASA, it’s especially critical, as much of our work is difficult and dangerous and sometimes lives are in the balance. We must have a culture where speaking up and providing feedback is encouraged. I’ve made nurturing that culture a centerpiece of my leadership and we created a Workforce Culture Strategy to communicate and codify these values.
With some 18,000 employees at NASA, getting feedback can be daunting and the EVS helps provide a vehicle where people feel they can be candid and offer constructive comments without putting themselves or their jobs at risk. We use it to help offices within our organization to improve and to share their successes. At NASA, we consider ourselves a family and, like any family, there can be some bumps in the road. The EVS helps us get past them.
Based on last year’s employee feedback, we focused this year on second-level performance reviews to support and encourage fairness in ratings and we created a Leader’s Handbook to guide supervisors and employees, and to foster organizational health.
I’m still listening – and feel privileged to be working with such a talented, creative workforce. The best part of serving as NASA Administrator continues to be witnessing how open and honest opinions and ideas have changed NASA for the better. Our entire NASA senior leadership team sincerely cares about our workforce’s opinions and is ready to take action.”
I want to thank my colleagues and their teams for using the FEVS to make progress on employee engagement. I know agency leaders across government are using this important tool to make similar strides. All of us need to work each and every day to make sure the talented people who work for the Federal Government feel valued, included, and engaged in their jobs.
As we get ready to release the agency-by-agency Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results for 2016 on Tuesday, September 20, I’m excited to share a little preview of the data that shows for the second year Federal employees are more satisfied with their jobs and feel more engaged in their workplaces.
In 2016, 65 percent of the Federal employees surveyed said they are engaged in their workplace. That’s an increase government-wide of one percentage point over 2015 and is two percentage points higher than in 2014. Some individual agencies saw even larger increases.
This is a positive trend that we can build on. These results illustrate that employees across Federal agencies are more engaged in their workplaces and more satisfied with their jobs than they were a year ago. The results also show that what Federal employees tell us about their workplaces and their leaders matter. Federal leaders heard you and put in place initiatives designed to improve employee engagement. The 2016 results show those efforts are making a difference.
FEVS is a confidential survey that measures engagement by asking employees a range of questions to better understand, for example, if their managers communicate the goals and priorities of their organization, their supervisors support employee development, and their work gives them a feeling of personal accomplishment. Such feedback is essential for agencies to find both what engagement efforts are working and pinpoint areas that need improvement.
So, what is Employee Engagement and why is it important?
Essentially, employee engagement captures the employees’ relationship with their work and the workplace. It is employees’ sense of purpose and is displayed in their dedication, persistence and effort or overall attachment to their organization and its mission. Private sector studies have shown a link between employee engagement and increased productivity and improved customer satisfaction ratings.
Having an engaged workforce is critical to the Federal Government’s ability to fulfill our mission to serve the American people. Engaged employees more likely to give their best, work more effectively in teams, share their ideas and creativity, and contribute more at work.
Given the challenges facing our nation and the Federal workforce, it is essential that we foster a culture of excellence and support our employees so they can reach their full potential.
Stay tuned. Next week we will share agency-specific data on www.UnlockTalent.gov, the interactive dashboard that allows employees and leaders to track employee engagement agency-wide and within individual offices. Through the Fall we will continue to add more detailed information to the site.
I want to thank everyone who participated in the 2016 FEVS. I also want to thank the supervisors, managers, and leaders across government who have taken the results of last year’s FEVS to heart and worked to make sure their employees are better engaged, satisfied and happy on the job. And I want to thank all our dedicated Federal employees for the work they do every day to serve this great country.
Each year, OPM’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) gives Federal employees across government the opportunity to confidentially tell their supervisors and managers what works well and what needs improvement when it comes to their agency, their specific job and their work environment. Many of you have received an email at your agency email address inviting you to participate in this voluntary, confidential survey. Now is the time for you to express your opinions.
It’s up to each agency to use this feedback, but rest assured, your managers and supervisors take these results very seriously. One of the most important pillars of the President’s Management Agenda calls on agencies to improve employee engagement. This survey is a key tool to help them do that. We’ve seen great change across government as a result of past surveys.
For example, at OPM as a result of the feedback we received from the 2015 survey, we:
I encourage all those who have been invited to participate in this year’s FEVS to complete the survey. We want your opinions regarding your job, your agency, and your workplace as a whole. Each employee’s voice can inspire change. Everyone’s responses help agencies identify areas that need attention. The more responses we receive, the better we understand your opinions and needs.
We make confidentiality of the results a priority. Every piece of feedback you give in the survey is confidential. Any information that would allow personal identification is always withheld when survey results are shared with your manager, others in the agency, or in publicly released reports regarding the survey. So please be as honest as possible. If your agency’s leadership knows exactly how you feel, that’s when meaningful change can happen.
The deadline for completing the FEVS is fast approaching. Different agencies have different closing dates, but the deadline for the first wave of surveys is the week of June 6; the second and final wave closes the week of June 14. If you have questions about your FEVS survey, send an email to the address included in the email message you received inviting you to participate.
The FEVS takes about 25 minutes to complete and can generally be filled out during work hours. Of course, participation in the survey is voluntary. But please consider lending your voice - this is your chance to give your opinions and let your leadership know the issues are most critical to you.
The People and Culture pillar of the President’s Management Agenda emphasizes the need to develop and sustain an engaged, innovative, and productive Federal workforce. Strengthening employee engagement was also the subject of a joint White House-Office of Personnel Management memorandum.
“We believe that employee engagement is a leading indicator of performance and should be a focus for all levels of an agency - from the front line employee to the agency head. Employee engagement is not only a Human Resources function, but a cross-cutting leadership effort that is directly tied to mission success,” the December 23, 2014, memorandum states.
To further this goal, we are sharing a white paper on employee engagement entitled, “Engaging the Federal Workforce: How to Do It & Prove It.” To access the paper, login to www.unlocktalent.gov and go to the Community of Practice page.
The paper summarizes OPM’s review of classic and recent employee engagement research, including definitions, models, measurement practices, and interventions. The paper then presents a definition of employee engagement as it specifically relates to the Federal workforce:
“Employee engagement is the employee's sense of purpose that is evident in their display of dedication, persistence, and effort in their work or overall attachment to their organization and its mission,” the paper states.
Of particular interest for Federal agencies is that the white paper examines the key drivers influencing Federal employee engagement. The research spotlights the important role that performance feedback, collaborative management, support for merit system principles, training and development opportunities, and work-life balance can have in developing a workforce that is more innovative, productive, committed, satisfied, and more likely to remain at their job.
While in 2015 the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey’s Employee Engagement index increased for the first time in three years, there are still substantial opportunities to improve this important workplace indicator. In releasing this white paper, we hope that OPM’s new Federal definition and model will serve as a foundation for capturing and sharing best practices to drive and sustain future employee engagement efforts.
Of the many things OPM’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) reveals, one thing is clear: The more agencies across government engage and include their employees, the more satisfied, productive, and motivated the workforce becomes.
I was glad to be part of a celebration Tuesday of the agencies that have taken that message to heart and either rank highest or have shown the most improvement in the Partnership for Public Services’ Best Places to Work in Government report. The Partnership’s report is based on the great work OPM does to produce the FEVS and analyze the survey’s results.
Whether it was the Department of Labor, whose score went up 4.4 points, or the Housing and Urban Development, whose score increased by 8 points, or the Federal Maritime Commission, whose score rose by nearly 15 points, there was continued progress this year.
And congratulations to NASA, which maintained its top ranking among large agencies; the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which was on top among mid-size agencies; and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which led the way among small agencies as the best places to work, according to the Partnership’s report.
Progress and results like this do not happen by accident. It takes hard work and leadership throughout an organization, and I salute the agencies across government that have taken this challenge seriously.
At OPM we provide leaders and managers a suite of tools to help them improve employee engagement. For example, the FEVS survey provides valuable data. This year, OPM produced more than 26,000 agency- and office-level reports, up from 21,000 last year. And those reports were sent to agencies a month ahead of schedule.
Having data at this micro-level allows managers to drill down into the information and learn what engagement strategies worked and where more work needs to be done to unlock the full potential of the Federal workforce.
We know that employee engagement is a leading indicator of excellent performance. To help leaders most effectively use the FEVS data to enhance engagement, OPM created an interactive tool we call UnlockTalent.gov. We are continually refining and updating that dashboard, and for the first time this year, the public was given access to this valuable information.
OPM has also created an index we call the New Inclusion Quotient – or New IQ. This initiative is designed to help employees and managers foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace. So far, more than 15,000 Federal employees have taken our training on how to create and sustain a diverse and inclusive workforce.
And more data analysis is coming. OPM’s policy analysts have drilled down into the FEVS data to determine the key factors that influence employee engagement. We will soon be providing agencies with a full analysis, but I can report that we found that the five main drivers of employee engagement are: meaningful performance feedback conversations; management styles that foster communication and collaboration; adherence to merit system principles; employee training and development, and work/life balance.
At OPM we are committed to providing leaders and managers across government with the tools they need to create and maintain an engaged, inclusive, diverse, and talent Federal workforce that can best deliver on its mission to serve the American people.
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