Federal Employees News Digest

Feds motivated, but feeling unsupported

A recent poll finds a disconnect between a federal workforce that self-identifies as being strongly motivated toward public service, but judges management to lag on that crucial aim. 

Eagle Hill Consulting, a management research and consulting firm, sponsored the survey.

In the poll of 509 feds, when asked to prioritize a list of on-the-job goals and concerns, fully 59% reported that they value “purposeful work” as their top choice. Yet, the survey also reveals employees don’t think management values that aim to a similar degree, and furthermore don’t feel adequately supported by management. 

How so? Of the pool of employee respondents, fully 51% reported that their workplace experiences impact their ability to serve the public—but just 33% say that their agency “places importance on employee experience/satisfaction.” 

This disconnect, and others explored in the survey, are severe enough that the situation leaves  nearly a third of feds surveyed—29%—to say they would leave government service if they were offered a “comparable position” elsewhere. 

The gist of the message is that, for feds to better serve the public (or “customers” as the survey authors put it), employees need greater support and focus from management aiming to improve workday experiences. 

“The takeaway for agencies is that the relative lack of emphasis on improving the employee experience leads to downstream effects on the citizen,” Eagle Hill’s survey report states.  

The report notes the disconnect is especially concerning, coming as it does at a time when a range of other survey research shows “citizen satisfaction with federal government services” at its lowest since 2015. 

“When citizen engagement is designed and implemented well, it provides government an opportunity to foster ‘process-based’ trust in public deliberation and service delivery,” the study counsels, quoting World Bank research. “While trust may be one determinant for citizens to participate in this process, citizens’ experiences and satisfaction in the process could also shape trust in government.” 

Drawing conclusions from its survey research, Eagle Hill proposes a chain of events needed to turn problems in the federal workplace around—not just for the sake of employee experiences, or the public’s satisfaction with government services, but more fundamentally to restore citizen trust in government itself. To spell it out: If management improves employee experience, feds soon would be “improving federal customer experiences and meeting customer expectations,” and these improvements in turn “can play an important role in shaping trust in government.”

“[The] employee experience … has considerable ripple effects on the customer experience, and government should pay attention,” the report summarizes. 

The survey and accompanying report cover a far wider range of federal workplace issues, from work-life balance to teamwork perceptions and many others.

2021 Digital Almanac

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