The Defense Department Inspector General’s office is known for sending out less than happy news. Often, reports coming from DoD IG involve wasted funds or details about a misconduct investigation, but this time the office has something positive to say.
The DoD IG continued to see “significant improvement” in employee satisfaction with the organization in 2018, even beating the government-wide and DoD-wide average.
Almost 69 percent of DoD IG employees who completed the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) stated they were satisfied with their organization. The score is an 8 percent improvement from 2017 and a more than 25 percent improvement compared to 2015.
This comes from an organization that historically ranked well below the government and DoD average, DoD IG Chief of Staff Steven Stebbins told Federal News Network.
More than 71 percent of DoD IG employees completed the survey. That percentage is much higher than the government-wide average of 40.6 percent and the 30 percent DoD average.
Stebbins said he attributed the satisfaction improvement over the past five years to “sustained effort and focus.”
“We’re not resting on our laurels,” Stebbins said. “We’re really trying to understand what our employees’ issues are and then address those and be consistent year after year. That builds trust that we are actually going to listen to folks and get after things. We are now starting to see the results with some of the major moves we’ve had over the last two years.”
DoD IG isn’t only receiving recognition from federal surveys. The Partnership for Public Service also noted the office’s improvement. It rated DoD IG the 157th best federal organization to work for out of a field of 415 agencies. Last year, DoD IG ranked 229th. The upward momentum made DoD IG the 13th most improved agency in 2018.
Stebbins said some of the issues the DoD IG is working on to better employee satisfaction are as simple as finding more parking for employees working in the National Capital Region.
But the office is also looking at more complex issues like its bureaucracy.
“There’s been a lot of work down in the audit component and in other components to look at review processes to see what we can do to get those streamlined in a way that doesn’t hamper the quality of our work,” Stebbins said.
DoD IG uses an employee engagement council to keep its ear to the ground on employee concerns.
In the past, the council recommended giving employees an opportunity to make comments to supplement the FEVS survey. In 2018, it recommended an agency survey on communications.
“What are the elements that folks are looking for? How often do they want to get that communication? By what means? Is it something they’d like to see on the internet or an update email from the IG?” Stebbins said. The council will be “listening to that and tailoring our approaches accordingly.”
Stebbins said DoD IG leadership will also stick with old standby ways of staying in touch with employees. Those include brownbag lunches and simply walking around the office.
DoD IG wants to keep improving its satisfaction rating in the future, but Stebbins said it may be harder considering much of the low hanging fruit is already plucked.
“A good piece of that is doubling down on and sustaining the actions we’ve done, but also looking for some new opportunities to continue to improve and continue to get better,” Stebbins said. “We want to be in that top 25 percent, not that it’s all about the score, but that tells us that we have an even more engaged and energized workforce that totally buys into the fantastic mission we have at the DoD IG.”