Every year, the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte release the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings. The rankings are based on data collected from the Office of Public Management’s annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.
The rankings break down employee satisfaction by subcomponents, such as small, medium and large agencies. However, this is the second year that the Partnership expanded the traditional rankings by placing a select group of agencies into five mission areas: public health, law enforcement and border protection, national security, energy and environment and infrastructure.
At the Partnership for Public Service’s recent breakfast, they released their 2016 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings by the five mission areas. The purpose of examining the mission areas is to explore agencies that have similar responsibilities and employ workers with comparable jobs to look at commonalities or dissimilarities in employee engagement.
This year’s rankings showed wide gaps among agencies within each mission area. However, the top agencies in each mission area saw similar engagement scores. Ranking the agencies by mission area allows leaders to identify successes, signs of trouble and insights from other agencies to promote employee satisfaction.
One agency leader, Dr. Francis Collins, the Director at the National Institutes of Health highlighted the importance of comparing your agency’s score to those of other agencies in your mission area. Collins explained that his team publicize the results from the survey and rankings from all of the institutes and centers at the NIH in order to promote transparency and learn from each other. Doing so has allowed NIH leadership to discuss what has been working in different centers and how best practices can be applied across the agency.
The Partnership also brought together Dr. Patrick Conway, the Acting Administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicade Services, Kevin Mahoney, the Chief Human Capital Officer at the Department of Commerce and Clothilda Taylor, the Chief Learning and Engagement Officer at the Department of Homeland Security to further discuss how the rankings have impacted engagement practices at their agencies.
Overwhelmingly, these agency leaders were in agreeance on what works to drive engagement and rise in the rankings. Conway emphasized that for him, there are three components critical to increasing engagement:
- First agency leaders must focus and listen to their employees and make changes to increase engagement so employees see that engagement matters to senior leadership.
- Second, it is critical to identify a set of engagement issues that you want to improve and work to help the employees get there. For example, Conway implemented a “day in the life” program that allows employees to shadow other people and learn what is going on across the agency.
- Third, leadership has to focus on a set of areas like coaching, mentoring, or capability development that works to engage employees deeply.
Taylor echoed these sentiments by explaining that, at the end of the day, perpetuating the focus on the mission and listening to employees will drive engagement. She emphasized that managers and leaders often don’t listen as much as they should but if they start hearing the folks that want to be heard, they can start implementing practices that increase engagement.
By listening to employees, leadership can drive engagement from the executive level all the way down to the front line staff. Mahoney explained that this can be done through brown bag lunches, open idea suggestion platforms and having Senior Executive Service members visiting local offices and employees. By focusing on transparency around the results and across all components of the agency, Mahoney and his team are able to learn what works and drive improvement.
Overall, agency leaders agreed that having a system and a culture that celebrates opportunities for improvement and cultivates continued improvement will allow senior leaders to work with their workforce to increase engagement and make their agencies better places to work.
To see where your agency ranks within its mission area, check out the rankings here.