Workplace Management

How to make your workplace one of the best

Sampriti Ganguli of CEB

In a few weeks, government executives will be receiving their agencies’ results from the latest Federal Employee Viewpoint (FedView) Survey. Those results will not only inform agencies’ 2013 priorities, but will also serve as the basis for the much-anticipated 2012 index of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.

An agency’s placement on this ranking can have a big impact on employee engagement and candidate attraction. Strong or improving scores can bolster an agency’s brand and reputation and serve as a badge of honor for all employees. Declining scores can confirm employee suspicions of worsening conditions and encourage top talent to explore job opportunities elsewhere.

The Partnership for Public Service derives the index from the answers to three FedView Survey questions that indicate employees’ satisfaction with their jobs, their organizations and their agencies’ advocacy. Although those questions are informative indicators, they are not very suggestive of what agencies can do to improve in those areas.

To better understand the top drivers of the index, CEB used regression analysis of the 2011 FedView Survey results to uncover which workplace attributes have the greatest impact on agency rankings. We found that three characteristics had a disproportionate effect.

1. Recognizing work unit and agency successes. Perceptions of agency mission success and the quality of work completed by an individual’s work unit had the strongest impact on employee satisfaction. Low scores on those questions do not necessarily mean that agencies are not meeting their goals, as there is a wide communication gap across government that can limit employee awareness of local or enterprise success. FedView results indicate that half of employees are not satisfied with the information they receive from management about activity within their organizations, while a third do not agree that managers evaluate the organization’s progress toward meeting its goals.

To ensure that employees at all levels are aware of agency accomplishments, managers and leaders must recognize and share the successes of their teams and those taking place across the agency. Highlighting achievements can pay big dividends in employee morale.

2. Soliciting upward feedback. Employee involvement in the decisions that affect their work represents another top driver of agency rankings. Involving employees in decision-making does not mean catering to their every wish, but it does entail proactively asking for employees’ opinions and valuing their perspectives. Given that some staff are reluctant to share their thoughts, tapping into a direct report’s insights might require proactive probing. Equally important is a manager’s receptivity to employee feedback.

FedView results suggest there is room for improvement in many managers’ listening skills; one in four employees do not agree that their managers listen to what they have to say.

Although soliciting employee feedback can lengthen the decision-making process, the benefits -- becoming aware of potential risks, improving decision-making and increasing employee engagement -- can more than make up for the extra time spent.

3. Reinforcing workplace inclusion. A manager’s ability to work well with employees of different backgrounds represents another top driver of employee satisfaction. Although agencies have traditionally focused diversity efforts on getting diverse talent through the door, CEB research shows that workplace inclusion actually has a greater impact on employee engagement and satisfaction than workforce diversity alone.

Progressive organizations use several practices to promote inclusion in the workplace, including assessing job candidates on their inclusive values and behaviors during the interview process and reinforcing those lessons at key moments in the employee life cycle. By providing supervisors and hiring managers with simple workflow tools, agencies can improve workplace inclusion without incurring heavy costs.

About the Author

Sampriti Ganguli is managing director of the Corporate Executive Board's government practice.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.


  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group