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3 Ways Agency Leadership Can Keep Employees Engaged

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Describing engagement is no easy feat. The easiest way to explain employee engagement is by describing what it is not. Employee engagement is not job satisfaction, nor does it necessarily mean an employee is happy. Engagement is the emotional connection an employee has with his/her organization or, more specifically, mission. Measuring engagement is akin to measuring the feelings, pride and commitment that employees have with their organization and it is what separates top performers from those who do just enough to rest on their laurels.

(Feeling Engaged? Share your voice in GovExec's largest employee engagement study)

According to a CEB engagement study, a 10 percent increase in commitment decreases an employee’s probably of quitting by 9 percent. In short, employees who are more engaged are less likely to quit, more likely to work long hours without being asked and a lot more likely to have better performance. In that same study, CEB showed that companies with above average employee commitment, tend to have high company performance overall. Here are three ways to foster engagement at your agency.

  • Focus on under performers. Unfortunately, no matter how much training or feedback you provide some managers, their communication skills may need further development. Hold your managers accountable for engagement in your department. They are the first-line of communication from top leadership. If you find that the manager below you is in need of help, create a personalized developmental plan. The focused attention will not only engage your managers but also send a strong message that you care about the employees your manager supervises.
  • When in doubt, include. Although we may be reluctant to include too many individuals in a given meeting for fear of meeting-mania, don’t overlook those who will play an integral role in the project but may not be a leader yet. Inclusion does two important things, it adds important resources and engages all levels of your department.
  • Keep engagement front and center. Make sure that your department knows engagement is your priority. Bring the topic up in meetings, send out emails with advice or post it on newsletters. As a leader, if others know engagement is your priority, they will make it a priority too.

The Government Business Council (GBC), the research division of the Government Executive, has launched its own engagement study of federal employees. In doing so, we track the trends of how efficiency is impacted by engagement and what tools federal leaders can leverage to create better managed agencies.

The study needs stratified representation from all federal agencies in order to provide actionable results. Over 18,000 federal employees have taken the survey so far. And we still need help.

Click here to be a part of GovExec's largest federal employee engagement study. 

Image via Mi.Ti./


Dana Grinshpan is the Research Manager for the Government Business Council (GBC), the research division of Government Executive, where she specializes in primary research development and survey instrument creation. Prior to joining GBC, she worked for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), assisting in the research and writing of work on South Asian regional cooperation. She has a Master of Arts in international security and political economics from the University of Chicago and graduated magna cum laude from Ohio State University where she holds a B.A. in international studies with a minor in Arabic.

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