Issue Briefs

Following is an excerpt from a recent OPM report to Congress addressing its plans for getting federal employees to feel more engaged in their jobs.

Strategic Goal Statement:
Provide leadership in helping agencies create inclusive work environments where a diverse Federal workforce is fully engaged and energized to put forth its best effort, achieve their agency’s mission, and remain committed to public service.
To foster a heightened connection between employees, their work, and their organizations, Federal agencies and managers must ensure employees find personal meaning in their work, take pride in their work and their organization, and believe they are valued contributors. To this end, employee engagement is a priority in the President’s Management Agenda (PMA). Specifically, People and Culture is a Cross-Agency Priority Goal that proposes to, in part, “Create a Culture of Excellence and Engagement to Enable Higher Performance; and foster a culture of excellence by using data-driven approaches to enhance management, performance, and innovation across the current Federal workforce. Specifically, OPM will focus on employee engagement (measured by employee views about their leaders, supervisors, and work experience), as multiple evaluations have demonstrated a strong correlation between employee engagement and an organization’s productivity.”
This section outlines and summarizes OPM’s plans, actions and anticipated accomplishments for FY 2016 for creating an engaged Federal workforce. While the focus of this strategic goal is employee engagement, this goal is closely related to the Cross-Agency Priority Goal “People and Culture”.
Engaged employees are passionate and dedicated to their jobs and to their organizations. They feel a special bond with their agencies and put forth discretionary effort needed to improve their own performance and agency results. Employee engagement is linked to important outcomes, including agency performance, sick-leave usage, EEO complaints, and turnover. Engaged employees are less likely to leave their agency, while those who are unengaged will likely start to look for opportunities elsewhere. Key drivers of employee engagement are communication, employee inclusion, opportunities for development, and recognition. Strong leadership and supervision also are critical to ensuring an engaged workforce as they have a great deal of influence over the factors that drive engagement.
OPM’s Employee Services (ES), Human Resources Solutions (HRS), Office of Diversity & Inclusion (ODI), Planning and Policy Analysis (PPA) and Merit System Accountability and Compliance (MSAC) will directly support this strategy to ensure agencies target, address and measure key drivers of employee engagement. ES will provide policy direction and leadership in designing, developing and promulgating Government-wide systems and programs; HRS will offer standardized as well as customized products and services to agencies on a reimbursable basis; ODI will provide leadership and efforts focused on developing, driving and monitoring strategies and initiatives designed to create a more diverse and inclusive Federal workforce; PPA will develop and provide metrics and analysis, as well as overall oversight for the People & Culture engagement initiatives; and MSAC will monitor and assess Agency participation and training effectiveness.
Having researched the drivers, components and outcomes of engagement as a foundation, OPM will implement five strategies to address this strategic goal. Recognizing the critical role of leaders and the importance of having tangible actions and measures, OPM will: 1) provide leadership training to increase employee engagement; 2) support agencies in hiring leaders strong in managing and leading high performing organizations; 3) provide a comprehensive suite of engagement services and models for agencies and employees; 4) ensure agencies target, address, and measure key drivers of employee engagement; and 5) partner with agencies to drive greater diversity, inclusion and employee engagement.
OPM anticipates that accomplishment of these strategies will provide positive outcomes Government-wide. Increased employee engagement can improve performance, and lead to employee and Agency effectiveness. OPM will use existing and new measures to evaluate the implementation of inclusion and engagement efforts and related outcomes. OPM and other partner agencies have designed the Unlocking Federal Talent dashboard for data-driven reviews of employee engagement and launched GovConnect Phase I pilots. FY 2016 will be a critical period for OPM to build on and expand the engagement strategies of FY 2015.
Moreover, the investments requested for FY 2016 will expand Government-wide efficiencies and improved employee engagement. For example, investment in rigorous assessments for hiring leaders will allow agencies to identify individuals with the capabilities required to effectively build, manage, and retain an engaged workforce. Similarly, investment in GovConnect will further the suite of engagement services and make the Federal workforce talent more agile and collaborative, both within and across agencies.
Various program contingencies and constraints may affect the achievement and the level of achievement of the strategies, accomplishments and milestones planned for strategies associated with this goal. The primary recurring factors are available resources within OPM and other agencies, as well as the active participation of other agencies.
Progress Indicator Statements:
Increase in the number of CHCO agencies that improved employee engagement related Human Capital metrics and the employee engagement scores as measured by FEVS.
Monitoring of both (1) the participation rates of agencies’ supervisors and managers in training designed to improve employee engagement and (2) the effectiveness of the training provided.
Increase in the percentage of hiring actions across the Federal Government where managers utilize applicant flow data delivered by OPM business intelligence tools.