Enhancing Employee Engagement: Best Practices for Government


We said “almost” like the weather. Employee engagement differs in one important way: You can do something about it.

Federal News Radio convened a panel of people versed in and passionate about getting the most from employees by creating conditions under which they feel valued. Participants were:

  • Julie Brill, the Manager of Work-Life, Leadership and Executive Development Policy at the Office of Personnel Management
  • Philippe Lussier, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Human Resources
  • Jeff Marootian, the Assistant Secretary for Administration at the Transportation Department
  • Towanda Brooks, the Chief Human Capital Officer at Housing and Urban Development
  • Steve Dobberowsky, Principal for Thought Leadership and Advisory Services at Cornerstone OnDemand

In the webinar you’re about to watch, these high-level experts are enthusiastic and full of ideas for building a better workforce and a better agency.

Panelists agreed the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, or FEVS, is a good starting point. Analysis of FEVS data can reveal which individual agencies and bureaus are doing well on the key questions. For example, Question 11 asks whether employees feel their talents are well used. Or questions 42-52, in which employees rate the support they get from supervisors.

Panels also agreed data and knowledge of employee engagement levels is only the starting point. The best employers develop plans for continuous improvement in the elements that lead to engagement, and let the scores take care of themselves.

For example, at HUD, leadership engineered a rise in employee engagement scores between 2014 and 2015. In this webinar, you’ll hear Brooks describe several initiatives using FEVS numbers to encourage people to participate in discussions and listening sessions. At State, Lussier says managers correlate engagement scores with attrition rates, bureau by bureau.

Dobberowsky, who has a decade of federal experience in his background, says the scores can lead to positive looks at culture, trust, communication styles, and development opportunities – all in the context of an ever-changing workforce. Management can better match competencies to agency requirements, ensuring people are engaged in work that is both satisfying and meaningful – to them and the agency.

In that sense, FEVS scores can lead beyond mere rankings to become key components in an improved talent and workforce planning tool and to justify crucial training budgets. As Marootian puts it, the better the engagement, the more people buy into the mission, and better the agency performance.



Federal Drive host Tom Temin

Tom Temin, Federal News Radio

Tom Temin has been the host of the Federal Drive since 2006. Tom has been reporting on and providing insight to technology markets for more than 30 years.  Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Tom was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines. Tom also contributes a regular column on government information technology.



juliebrillJulie Brill, Manager of Work-Life & Leadership and Executive Development Policy office in Employee Services, Office of Personnel Management

Julie Brill is the Manager of Work-Life & Leadership and Executive Development Policy office in Employee Services at the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  She has 20 plus years of private and public-sector experience in human capital development and management, including areas that are drivers of employee engagement.  Julie has published and presented numerous papers on human capital management, training, and leadership development.

Julie has a Bachelor’s Degree from Vassar College, a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology from American University, and a Masters Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the City University of New York.


Phil LussierPhilippe Lussier, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Human Resources, U.S. State Department

Mr. Lussier is currently a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Human Resources, U.S. State Department, leading the Department’s workforce planning and analysis, resource management, HR systems operations and development, Civil Service Human Resource Management , labor management, and casualty assistance functions.  He has been at the U.S. Department of State since November 2004, first as the Division Chief for Workforce Planning and Analysis and then as Office Director for Resource Management and Organization Analysis, Bureau of Human Resources.

He is responsible for the Department’s Foreign Service promotion and hiring plans, the 5-Year Workforce and Succession Plan, Civil Service personnel policies, Executive Resources Management, Workforce Analytics and $500 million in operating funds.


Jeff Marootian Official PortraitJeff Marootian, Assistant Secretary for Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation

Jeff Marootian is the Assistant Secretary for Administration at the United States Department of Transportation. In this role he is the chief advisor to Secretary Anthony Foxx on management and personnel issues and oversees workforce development for the 55,000 employee agency. Mr. Marootian directs the implementation of President Obama’s energy, environmental and sustainability goals on behalf of the agency and is responsible for the asset management of 11,000 facilities across the country. Additionally, he works to build capacity for Secretary Foxx’s priorities including promoting transportation safety, modernizing the national infrastructure and building Ladders of Opportunity in communities across the country.


T.brooksTowanda Brooks, Chief Human Capital Officer, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Towanda A. Brooks serves as the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and has been a member of the Senior Executive Service since May 2009.  Ms. Brooks’ current responsibilities include leading the Department’s human capital management strategies, policies and initiatives in support of HUD’s mission.  She is also responsible for the delivery of human capital programs to include senior executive program; learning and development; recruitment and staffing; employee labor relations; and performance management.  Prior to her current position, Ms. Brooks served as the Deputy Chief Human Capital Officer (DCHCO)/Associate General Deputy Assistant Secretary, for the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (OCHCO).  While managing the OCHCO operations, she championed leadership development, diversity and inclusion, and employee engagement.  Ms. Brooks is also credited with facilitating the Department’s recent 1000+ hires and the Strategic Human Capital Plan and the Strategic Workforce Plan.  Both plans had not been published in almost 10 years.


Dobberowsky photo 3Steve Dobberowsky, Principal, Thought Leadership & Advisory Services, Cornerstone OnDemand

Steve has served 11 years of Federal Government competitive service with 7 years in HR and HR IT leadership roles ensuring effective talent management processes at a bureau level, at the Department level and at a Shared Service Center where he delivered solutions for multiple agencies. He is a proven, business-savvy leader with a track record of providing high quality, innovative services and solutions. He is also  adept at achieving desired outcomes from multiple initiatives simultaneously, working collaboratively and decisively to overcome obstacles and deliver results, and creating a continuously learning, improving and adaptable organization. He has a resilient proficiency and is effective at heading up change efforts, building organizations, uniting divergent groups, and leading a diverse and geographically dispersed workforce. Utilizing his initial professional experiences as a high school teacher, he is a seasoned leader who leverages resources, information, knowledge, skills and technology to develop people, foster relationships and build partnerships.

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