Scores from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) are up a point all around in 2015, rising 1 percent — from 63 percent to 64 percent.
The FEVs track employee satisfaction across agencies in the federal government to see what works — or doesn’t — when it comes to keeping feds engaged with their jobs, leaders and organizations.
While it may seem like a small increase, the upward trend is statistically significant since 50 percent more federal employees answered the survey from 2014 and 75 percent of those responses were also more positive.
In an interview on In Depth with Francis Rose, John Salamone, vice president at Federal Management Partners, said, despite the small gains, this years FEVs are better than they look.
“That 1 percent is significant and certainly something worth celebrating,” Salamone said. “I’m not certain they would be popping the champagne but certainly celebrating that the administration may have turned a corner on engagement over the last year.”
Yet, if the government wants to see scores continue to rise and keep the scores from dropping again, Salamone said it needs to take other factors into consideration when tracking employee engagement.
One factor Salamone talked about was implementing two-year action plans. The two-year plans shift focus from action planning to implementation and allow agencies to concentrate on delivering results rather than constantly draft plans for change. Salamone also said agencies could leverage this two-year planning cycle as the framework for establishing their FEVS implementation activities and gives them time “to demonstrate the results” agencies need to see.
“Engagement scores take time to improve and if you’re tracking the right measures, what you should be doing is putting your action plans together in a two-year cycle, ” he said. “Agencies should really be considering that and then at the midpoint at the one-year mark, check and make sure your measures are still valid, your goals are still valid, whatever you’re trying to achieve is still a target for your agency and move on.”
Salamone added the government needs to connect multiple data sources such as attrition, employee and organizational performance, and internal and external customer satisfaction data in order to focus on problem areas of employee engagement.
“If we have a program where you have low engagement scores and they’re providing very face forward services to the public, do they have customer service data that we can look at as well?” he said. “Are the customers saying, ‘We’re not getting the service that we want from this program’ and they have low engagement scores, well then we may need to attack customer service delivery. We may need to look at the way we’re training and or hiring employees to come into that particular program.”
According to Salamone, exit interview and attrition data are valuable information when it comes to improving agency strategies for employee engagement, but that data often gets overlooked. He said this information could help explain trends in issues with retention.
“If you have millennials that are leaving in increasing numbers figure out why they’re leaving,” he said. “They may not necessarily be leaving for pay, but maybe they’re leaving for recognition, and they’re not getting the recognition that they feel feel is necessary to drive them to better performance or to drive them to want to stay committed to a particular mission.”
Salamone said looking at data from additional sources along with the FEVs will only help drive engagement. Without it, agencies aren’t getting the full picture.
“We can’t control what Congress is going to do and the federal employees can’t control what Congress is going to do. But what they can control is how they feel about their jobs and the things that they do” he said.