Poll: Feds aim to serve, but feel unsupported

A newly released consulting firm's survey of feds reveals most remain focused on serving, but a large proportion feel management doesn't share that priority.


A recent poll of federal employees finds a disconnect between a workforce strongly motivated toward public service and a management that lags on this crucial front. 

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

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

How so? Of the pool of 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 is driving 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, for feds to better serve the public—or “customers” (as the survey authors put it)—employees need greater support and focus from management with improving their own 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 stated. 

Eagle Hill notes the disconnect is especially concerning, coming at a time when a range of other recent 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’s authors counsel, 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.” 

Hence, Eagle Hill is proposing a chain-of-events needed to turn things around not just for employee workplace experiences, and the public’s satisfaction with government services—but also for citizen trust in government as a whole. To spell it out: If management would better employee experience, federal employees would soon be “improving federal customer experiences and meeting customer expectations,” and that 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,” Eagle Hill concludes. 

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

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