Deloitte Leaders Explain Government Workers’ Dissatisfaction and Ways for Agencies to Improve
By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager.
The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings recently released their 2013 report that shows a continuing downward trend and federal government employees say in their survey responses that they are increasingly dissatisfied with their jobs. Overall the numbers fell three points to a score of 57.8 on a scale of one hundred.
Sean Morris and David Dye, human capital leaders from Deloitte who worked on the report with the Partnership for Public Service, recently spoke with us at Big4.com about the the reasons why the scores have been declining.
David Dye started with a brief overview of the recent trends in the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings.
“ Until about three years ago, the trends were going up. The downward trend began in 2011 to a point now where the 2013 data has reached its lowest point in the ten year history of the survey,” he said. In 2010, the score was calculated at 65 and has slipped ever since to the present mark.
Dye also said the rankings were used as a way to spark ideas about moving those numbers up into positive territory.
“Our year round sponsorship involved a lot of insights, sharing best practices, diving deeper into
the data and having debates and conversations,” he said.
Sean Morris offered further insights into the sliding satisfaction numbers.
“The main reason that we’ve continued to see slippage over the last couple of years is the lack of investment in the federal employee,” he said. “The issue of sequestration, significant budget cuts, the government shutdown, furlough days. All of those have contributed to dropping job satisfaction rates in the federal workforce.”
The 2013 Best Places to Work research pointed to a decline in every one of the 10 separate categories. Not surprisingly, satisfaction with pay experienced the biggest decline this year. That score fell 4.7 points in 2013 and has declined 12.7 points since 2010. Rewards and Advancement is the lowest scoring category with only 41.2% of Federal employees expressing a favorable view.
Softer budget line items
“Training has been significantly slashed,” Morris said by way of pointing out some of the softer budget line items affected. He also notes that there is a “temperature of negativity” directed toward the federal workforce that has a dampening effect.
He also said the current environment is compounded when junior members of the workforce are not currently showing the same levels of interest in joining federal service as seen
in previous generations.
“So when you limit that flow of fresh new ideas coming into a workforce, you limit the ability for the overall culture of that organization to rise.”
Dye added another social factor to the mix that he called a ‘connectiveness’ to the organization’s leaders.
“When you put a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty in an environment and you don’t hear from the leaders on what’s going on, I think that only exacerbates the situation.”
Morris summed up the general attitude for this portion of the workforce.
. “From a federal worker perspective, there’s definitely a hunkered down mentality,” he said
Despite the current challenges, both Dye and Morris remain upbeat about the importance of public service to the current federal workforce and future generations. Many of the current challenges can be rectified with increased investment in the federal workforce. Key investments include workforce planning, increased opportunities for training and new performance measurement approaches. In addition, we know from the data that the biggest contributors to the overall ranking are effective leadership and a clear alignment of how the workforce contributes to mission success. If agencies pay attention to these factors, everyone will benefit.
Morris concluded “clearly we are at a low point at the moment, but our nation’s public servants are resilient and committed. We have seen previous times when the challenges were great and exceptional leaders led from the front. I am confident that with the right level of investment, we will not buck history.”