Delivering results through more engaged workforces

Many departments have made employee engagement a priority focus area over the past few years. Even so, the Public Service Employee Survey (PSES) results in this area have remained relatively consistent since 2011.  With so much investment going into transformation these days, how will we truly change without an increasingly engaged workforce?

 2017 Public Service Employee Annual Survey: Summary report of results for the overall public service

Stagnant employee engagement results

  • 65% of employees indicated that they are satisfied with their organization (Q6), similar to the 2014 PSES results (64%) and unchanged from the 2011 PSES results (65%).
  • 78% of employees indicated that they like their job (Q7), similar to the 2014 PSES results (79%) and a decrease from the 2011 PSES results (82%).

How do we increase the levels of employee engagement?

Management best practices continually stress the importance of the manager role. Only managers can engage their own employees in the meaningful ways required to deliver organizational success. The underlying assumption here is that we have highly engaged managers within our federal public service, which may not always be the case.

 How do we shift the conversation from employee engagement to its reliance on manager engagement?

Organizations have an abundance of opportunities to better engage their managers and to develop the capabilities they need to better engage with their own employees. One opportunity lies within the many projects and change initiatives currently underway. From what I have seen, not enough projects today are effectively engaging the managers most impacted by the change. Not only is this a lost opportunity, but it also puts projects at risk given the potential for making incorrect assumptions about the very people who must lead and implement the change.

 What’s stopping us from engaging managers more frequently?

I have heard, “Managers do not have time to participate; they’re too busy”, but I don’t think that’s the reason. It seems to be more about what is valued in our federal public service: that it’s better to keep moving forward than to slow down and address the real issues that managers would inevitably raise. It’s better to get things done fast than to get things done right.

Get the Results

By placing more value on the input and engagement of managers, we will deliver more engaged workforces. Through more engaged workforces, we will deliver real results. Imagine what a transformed public service we could have, and it doesn’t have to cost much or involve any new trends or technology. We could simply achieve it by better engaging one manager at a time.


Kathy Roy has implemented business transformation and change management projects in complex organizations for over two decades. She has worked with major companies, both public and private, and with numerous business sectors in both Canada and the United States. She is part of Systemscope's Strategic Business Consulting practice.


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