The federal workforce is one of the most diversely talented working groups in the United States. Their ability to innovate, identify costs savings and more is often tied to the pride they have in their work as well as a sense of feeling connected to a bigger purpose.
When something alters their ability to do the type of work they enjoy, sometimes federal employees will feel a sense of disconnection to their job, team and organization. Consequently, a lack of interest may set in and employee morale plummets.
This concept of low employee morale is often called employee engagement. According to a November 2015 Fed News Radio article, OPM defined employee engagement as “an employee’s sense of purpose readily seen in their approach, dedication and level of effort toward work.” In a nutshell, an employees’ sense of attachment about their workplace contributions is part of their identity and a direct correlation to the passion they feel about their work.
There are well-known signs of employees who may feel disconnected at work. Some examples include:
- Lack of participation in work group
- Concerns about their work environment
- Increased absenteeism
- Surfing their mobile devices for job opportunities
- Limited participation in group activities
- Arriving at work daily feeling “checked out”
- Lack of recognition for their efforts
These concepts are often a challenge for federal agencies to identify, monitor as well as improve. Yet, it takes a forward-leaning and collaborative approach to re-connect with employees. Moreover, an organization’s work environment is one of the key indicators to an employee’s identity. If a workplace environment is toxic or not supportive of employees’ goals, then it will become difficult to rally behind their agency’s mission.
So how does one improve employee engagement? Take time to assess how and what you communicate to employees about the organization, professional development opportunities as well as employee recognition programs to start. Also, encourage your employees to take part in annual workplace employee surveys to share insights about their organizational perceptions. Lastly, create as well as implement an employee engagement action plan that truly is “employee-centric” to create an effective change in the workplace.