In upgrading its benchmark survey, OPM aims to help upgrade Fed workplace culture and recruiting

There are several new wrinkles in the OPM government employee survey currently being distributed to your agency’s workforce. Among its most significant enhancements is timeliness: OPM is increasing the distribution frequency of this mainstay tool to every year, rather than every two years as before.

The survey also has a new name. Formerly the Federal Human Capital Survey (FHCS), it’s now the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, a rebranding that reflects an expanded emphasis on employee engagement and other morale factors. At the very top level, engagement denotes the degree to which federal employees identify with their agency’s mission and with the concrete ways in which their agency manages its workforce to support that mission.

But it’s clearly more complex and nuanced than that. A tried-and-true—very broad and basic–metric for gauging employee engagement is job satisfaction. The central question here: does a given employee feel included and appreciated by colleagues, supervisors, and managers for his or her talents and contributions? By and large, a disengaged team member usually falls somewhere on the scale between mildly cynical and entirely alienated. And you can be sure a disengaged team member is anything but fully productive and supportive of agency goals.

But what’s the connection between employee engagement and success at recruitment, an all-important element for both OPM and our TMP Government team? The tie-in is direct. As OPM helps agencies create workplace cultures that attract the best and the brightest, its survey results are core progress assessment tools. And they also form the basis for the Best Places to Work rankings from the Partnership for Public Service, which in turn directly influence many government job-seekers during the application process. Similarly, if engagement findings (and Partnership rankings) are favorable, they boost word-of-mouth enthusiasm among an agency’s own employees–in itself a powerful recruiting asset.

But will all these survey enhancements advance OPM’s stated objective of making the government “America’s model employer for the 21st Century?” That’s an extraordinarily ambitious goal, certainly, but the energy and discipline that the OPM team is pouring into all its programs—not just the employee survey–gives this commentator some reason for optimism on this score.

If you’re interested, I can point you to an online copy of the survey instrument. But please wait to ask me until after the data gathering closes in mid-March.

Thomas Delorme
Written by Thomas Delorme

VP, Digital Products & Strategy

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