Despite remaining the lowest-ranked large agency in the federal employee survey, DHS says it is seeing results from several efforts to improve employee engagement and satisfaction.

The engagement score rose three points after six straight years of decline, to 56 percent, triple the overall one-point increase government-wide. The satisfaction index rose by two points to 49. While both remain well below the government-wide averages for large agencies of 65 and 61 percent, respectively, DHS said the turnaround is due to efforts including:

An employee engagement steering committee that meets monthly and that oversaw the creation of DHS-wide employee satisfaction programs and customized programs and initiatives for each component.

Participation by top leadership in listening sessions that identified employees’ main concerns as pay, work/life balance and hiring. One response was to ensure that employees receive basic information about hiring and promotion opportunities, and are informed of the eligibility criteria and procedures that will be followed in the selection process, including timelines.

Reinstating and expanding the annual Secretary’s Awards Program to acknowledge outstanding individual and team efforts across DHS, along with re-established or expanded awards programs within components.

Improved communication including enhanced new employee orientation materials, a department-wide e-newsletter, and “leader alert” notices. Also, several DHS components followed TSA’s creation of an “IdeaFactory” for employees to generate ideas and feedback.