Photo: Flickr user Kreg Steppe

Most Feds Say Agencies Aren’t Interested in Their Ideas

More than 70 percent surveyed said their agencies rarely or never seek their input on improvements.

Earlier this year, Trump administration officials said they would seek out the input of federal employees as they craft plans for reforming and reorganizing government.

If that actually happens, many federal employees apparently would find it to be a refreshing change.

According to a new survey released by Eagle Hill Consulting, 72 percent of federal employees say their agencies rarely or never seek their ideas for improvements. Almost the same percentage say the private sector is better at soliciting ideas from workers.

The survey on federal workplace culture was conducted for Eagle Hill by the Government Business Council, the research arm of Government Executive Media Group. Full results are available for download here.

Nearly 60 percent of federal employees surveyed say they share ideas with colleagues at least once a month. And almost half of respondents think their agencies might be open to their ideas, but they don’t know how to submit them.

The silver lining is that younger federal employees are more likely to say their bosses are interested in what they have to say. Two-thirds of survey respondents under 35 said their agency “seeks their ideas to improve tools/processes,” while less than one-third of respondents over 35 said the same.

So how can agencies begin to develop an ideas culture, in which they actively seek out input from all employees? “Ideally, it would start from the top,” said Eagle Hill CEO Melissa Jezior. In government’s case, that’s most likely upper middle management — the Senior Executive Service level. Then, she said, the idea generation process can “start trickling down, and eventually you can start building it into people’s performance plans.”

Simple ideas to kick off the process include innovation competitions, in which agency leaders formally solicit ideas from employees, put them through a refinement process, and “very visibly hold up the ones they’re planning to implement,” Jezior said.

Photo: Flickr user Kreg Steppe