Who Owns Engagement?

Over my federal career as a diversity and inclusion trainer, I have heard the following statements made by leaders regarding engagement.

• Disengagement is just the cost of doing business at the federal level.
• It is not my job to keep my employees engaged.
• Federal government employees are already too entitled.
• Anyway, there is nothing anyone can do about engagement.
• After all, in the end the only thing that matters is results.
• If I could just get the wrong people off my bus and the right people on.

These leaders must have not read the General Accounting Office analysis (GAO)-15-585) of Office of Personnel Federal Employment Viewpoint Survey 2014 data. GAO came up with six major drivers of engagement and one can make a case that at least four of six influences on employee engagement fall on the shoulders of leaders.

• My supervisor provides me with constructive suggestions to improve my job performance.
• I am given a real opportunity to improve my skills in the organization.
• My supervisor supports my need to balance work and other life issues.
• Supervisors work well with employees of different backgrounds.
• How satisfied are you with your involvement in decisions that affect your work?
• How satisfied are you with the information you receive from management on what’s going on in your organization?

Here are the keys to the engagement kingdom:
• Constructive performance conversations with leaders.
• Career development and training.
• Work-life balance support from leaders.
• Inclusive work environments where differences are embraced by leaders.
• Employee involvement in things that affect the workplace.
• Communication from management in a transparent and timely manner.

Want engagement? Turn to your peers. In the meantime, hopefully our leaders will awaken from their slumber in time to realize the engagement journey is not a solo flight in the first class section of the plane. There is plenty of room in the coach area. After all, we are headed to the same destination.

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