For agency leaders and managers, it is critical to understand how employees feel about their jobs and the workplace, and to respond to legitimate concerns that will help build a more productive and healthy work environment.
Earlier this week, my organization - the Partnership for Public Service - and Deloitte produced the annual "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government" rankings. Based on data from the Office of Personnel Management's Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, the rankings measure employee satisfaction and commitment at individual agencies and government-wide. They also provide specific information by agency on 10 workplace issues, including effective leadership, alignment between agency mission and employee skills, pay, teamwork, innovation and work-life balance.
Some agency leaders routinely make every effort to explain away the poor results. "The survey response rate wasn't high enough," they say. "Only the most disgruntled employees take these surveys. The factors affecting employee engagement are beyond my control. Let's wait to take action and see if the next administration is as focused on these results."
Rationalizing bad results can be tempting, but doing so fails to recognize the broader management trends in the public and private sectors.
This post was originally featured on The Washington Post's website.