Gaps in Employee Engagement Found Among Agencies in Law Enforcement, Other Key Policy Areas

New Best Places to Work study suggests managers need to find commonalities.

The agencies focusing on five key areas in President Trump and the 115th Congress’ still-unfolding policy agenda display wide variations in morale and employee engagement, a study found.

The nonprofit Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte for the second year running assembled a special edition of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government study,  this one tailored to 69 federal organizations under the broad areas of law enforcement and border protection; public health; infrastructure (roads, water systems, rail lines and power grids); national security; and energy and the environment.

Last year’s study also included financial regulation, and both were based on data from the most recent Office of Personnel Management Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. “The purpose of ranking by mission area is to examine agencies that have similar responsibilities and employ workers with comparable occupations to see if there are commonalities or discrepancies in employee engagement,” the Partnership said in a release.

“This data will allow the incoming leadership teams to learn from one another and gain insights about how they can better meet the needs of their workers and ultimately the American public,” PPS President and CEO Max Stier said.

Perhaps most worrisome for incoming managers are the wide gaps between the agencies ranked near the bottom for cultivating engaged employees and those at the top. The intelligence community, for example, tops the national security area with an engagement score of 67, while the Homeland Security Department scored only 45.8.

The Federal Highway Administration found its employees well engaged with a score of 77.9, while the Bureau of Land Management came in next to last in its category at 55.8.

Analysts pointed to a 32.1-point gap between the top-scoring Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Justice Department and the lowest-scoring agency in its category, the National Park Service, the study noted. “In fact, in no instance is the gap between the top- and bottom-ranked agency in a mission area smaller than 21 points.”

The analysis is based on survey data from April-June 2016. “The level of engagement by federal employees—their satisfaction with their jobs and workplaces, and their commitment to the mission of their agencies,” the study noted, “can be important factors in how well they perform and whether agencies can effectively accomplish their goals and effectively serve the public interest.”