How we’re using our employee engagement ranking and survey results to improve our organization
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How we’re using our employee engagement ranking and survey results to improve our organization

June 7, 2019 | Updated on July 1, 2021

Each year, the Partnership and Boston Consulting Group hold an event to release the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings, where we recognize top-ranked agencies for their performance on several measures.

But earlier this year, we were on the other side of a set of rankings, waiting for the release of the NonProfit Times’ Best Nonprofits to Work For list. I was anxious to find out if we made it and, if we did, where we ranked.

We were pleased to learn we made the list again this year, coming in at number 26 overall, and we celebrated to thank our staff for their efforts to make the Partnership a great place to work.

We also did some soul searching because we ranked lower than we did last year. As an organization, we talk a lot about the importance of workforce satisfaction, and we help federal agencies improve in this area. But we are not immune to the challenges of engaging employees.

To understand why we dropped in the rankings and figure out how we can improve, we revisited data from recent staff surveys. We looked again at our employees’ concerns and what actions we took to address them. And we discussed where we might have fallen short.

While it’s critical to dig into the data, we also need to listen more. Our president and CEO recently began holding “listening sessions” with staff on the topic of diversity and inclusion, an area many employees raised as an important priority. Observing that employees at a particular professional level in the organization scored lower on engagement than people at other levels, a member of our senior team also held meetings with those individuals to hear their concerns and take appropriate action.

We have other employee-focused items on our to-do list.

To build trust between our senior leaders and the rest of the staff, it’s important to keep our workforce informed. We’re being diligent about communicating important updates more than once and in multiple ways because we’ve realized that people may not be present for the first announcement on any given subject.

We’re hosting bimonthly training sessions for supervisors. These provide supervisors with dedicated time for improving their management capabilities. And participants can hear about important matters directly from senior leaders and learn ways they can help lead the organization.

We’re also adapting for our own purposes some of the employee engagement programs we facilitate for federal agencies. The Partnership offers a three-day Engagement Ambassador course to help agencies prepare a designated group of leaders to be responsible for organizing employee-engagement efforts. This summer, we will launch our own version of engagement ambassadors. We’re selecting Partnership staff and providing a course to train them to use our survey data to design and implement an engagement plan.

We always want to get better at what we do, and we’re using the NonProfit Times’ rankings as an opportunity to reassess what’s working and what’s not. We hope our efforts can spark ideas for you as well.