The Defense Department Inspector General Office saw a marked increase in satisfaction from its employees in 2017 after years of below average results, but that doesn’t mean the agency is resting on its laurels.
The 2017 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey found DOD IG employees felt more comfortable, accomplished and satisfied compared to 2016 and found in some areas employees were feeling better than the government-wide average.
“We have historically in recent years ranked well below the government and the Department of Defense in the Federal Viewpoint Survey. That’s bothersome and so we’ve taken that seriously,” DOD IG Chief of Staff Steve Stebbins told Federal News Radio in an Oct. 25 interview.
This year the tone among employees changed. DoD IG saw a 12 percent increase in satisfaction with the agency, up to 61 percent compared to 49 percent last year. The government-wide average was 61 percent.
DoD IG also saw big gains in opinions on their senior leaders maintaining high standards of honesty and integrity. DoD IG received a 62 percent favorability on that measure versus 45 percent last year and 54 percent government-wide.
DoD IG also saw improvements in how employees felt about the information that received from management, the ability of the agency to recruit talent and how successful the agency is in accomplishing its mission.
“I think [the results] reflect all the effort that goes into making the DoD IG a better place to work. It starts with the tone at the top, so [acting DoD Inspector General Glenn] Fine, and his actions around being more accessible, the brownbag lunches with employees, the getting out and talking to folks. We formed an employee engagement council across the [Office of the Inspector General] with representatives from all the components so we can identify concerns from the bottom up and then they will present recommendations to him and to other senior leaders,” Stebbins said. “Just communicating more with the workforce both putting out information, the monthly emails that Mr. Fine does, the traveling, but also really listening.”
The office emphasized leadership communication in the last year
Stebbins said the office hasn’t finished its work yet. He said the survey is only a snapshot in time and does not reflect the future.
“We’re not high fiving because we did so much better,” he said.
Not every area was up to standard for the office either.
One of the more ironic responses from employees is that they lack faith that the survey will actually be used to make the agency a better place to work.
“We did much better this year than last year. We were up 6 percentage points, so 44 percent positive, but still 35 percent negative and that’s too low and so we want to continue to focus on that, to communicate with people, get their input, get their ideas, implement those ideas and then tell them what we are doing,” Stebbins said.
The DoD IG chief of staff also said employees did not feel a sense of empowerment regarding their work processes. The number increased to 45 percent, up from 35 percent last year, but Stebbins said it was still too negative.
“How can we continue the direction we are on and get that to where it needs to be,” Stebbins said is one thing the office will focus on for 2018.