I have been thinking about my disengagement and the lack of disengagement of my colleagues and customers. I have been framing this conversation between two extremes–contribution and satisfaction. Which one of these engagement drivers is more important? As a federal government employee already with little power, which of these drivers do I have the most influence over–contribution or satisfaction?
This distinction between contribution and satisfaction has surfaced of late in the Federal Employee Survey (FEVS) Results that provide the backdrop to the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government Rankings.
Look at this dichotomy. When feds are asked, “When needed I am willing to put in the extra effort to get the job done,” 94.5 % say they do. Nearly 90% of them say, “I am constantly looking for ways to do my job better.” Look what happens to their responses when you bring up their managers. Less than 60% of them feel their managers support engagement. Barely 50% say they are used well in the workplace by their managers.
The explicit message seems to be that federal government public servants have the contribution thing down. It is job satisfaction that seems to be elusive. It also seems apparent that the biggest influence on job satisfaction is the manager.
The General Accounting Office (GAO) tends to agree. In response to a Congressional request, this watchdog released Report GAO-15-585 under their Federal Workforce section entitled “Additional Analysis and Sharing of Promising Practices Could Improve Employee Engagement and Performance.”
The GAO was asked to review how the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was doing in improving federal employee engagement. The report does three things. It evaluated employment engagement trends from 2006-2014, recommended best practices to improve employee engagement and studied how OPM supports agencies in the pursuit of employee engagement.
They narrowed down 6 FEVS questions that track the six most important drivers of engagement:
• Constructive performance conversations–My supervisor provides me with constructive suggestions to improve my job performance.
• Career development and training–I am given a real opportunity to improve my skills in the organization.
• Worklife balance–My supervisor supports my need to work and other life issues.
• Inclusive work environments–Supervisors work well with employees of different backgrounds.
• Employee involvement–How satisfied are you with your involvement in decisions that affect your work?
• Communications from management–How satisfied are you with information you receive from management on what is going on in the organization?
Did you notice that of the six most vital drivers of engagement, managers are responsible for 67% of the FEVS questions associated with engagement?
The verdict is finally in. Employees can control their level of contribution. Unfortunately, their levels of satisfaction are more dependent on their manager.
I am committed to improving my engagement; if I could only find a manager to do their part.