Federal managers are investing much effort in improving their employees’ engagement–as measured through the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and the Best Places to Work rankings–but need also to focus on whether organizational outcomes improve along with engagement, the MSPB has said.

“This is the only way to ensure a positive return on investment from an organization’s attempts to improve employee engagement,” said a recent publication.

“There could be several reasons agency leaders find that employee engagement scores move independently of the outcomes they track. For instance, the index being used to measure employee engagement may not be actually measuring engagement, the outcome measures being used may be inadequate, or some other factor could be at work. When there is a disconnect between organizational results and employee engagement, it is important to determine why this disconnect is occurring. Therefore, rigorous program evaluation is critical,” it said.

“It is important for agency managers to focus on their own situation as it is plausible that any management attention directed at improving the workplace, agency leadership, or employee morale may have some positive effect on agency operations,” it added.

MSPB cautioned that it is unclear what effect small improvements in employee engagement as measured by the FEVS may have on agency outcomes. Also, since the FEVS does not directly measure employee engagement, but rather measures the conditions that lead to engagement, “it is uncertain that even large increases in that index will automatically result in positive agency outcomes. Measures of employee engagement should not be used as proxies for verified organizational outcomes.

“Touting one’s workplace as a best place to work may sound good on vacancy announcements–potentially enticing more highly qualified people to apply–but standing on its own, it says little about how adept an organization is at producing actual results,” it said.