Survey Says: Federal Government Doesn’t Seek the Opinions of Federal Employees
A new survey has revealed that federal government is failing at tapping the brainpower of federal employees. Employees feel that the employers in the private sector are more open to employee opinion and ideas. These findings bring up many interesting points that will hopefully be considered in the near future.
Government Leaders Don’t Seek Ideas From Federal Employees
A survey conducted by the Government Executive research intelligence division of the Government Business Council, in partnership with Eagle Hill Consulting, has revealed that the government leaders are not seeking suggestions from federal employees. About 72 percent of the respondents admitted that their agency never or rarely seeks their ideas regarding improvement while 71 percent said that the government is less open to adopting new ideas in comparison with the private sector. The survey findings were highlighted in a report titled “Building an Ideas Culture in Federal Government: Employees Are Key, But New Survey Shows Their Ideas Are Not Being Tapped.” About 332 federal employees were selected randomly as respondents.
Opinion on Results
Melissa Jezior, who serves as the Chief Executive Officer and President of Eagle Consulting LLC, has shared her opinion on the survey results by saying that these findings are troubling because the inability of the government to bring forward, consider, and implement ideas has the potential to have serious negative implications on the federal workforce, U.S. competitiveness, and taxpayer services.
She also said that given the deep cuts that are expected in many of the federal agency budgets and staffing levels, it has become more important than ever to collect recommendations from federal employees to find ways to innovate, sustain morale, and do more with fewer resources.
This research has also revealed that about 63 percent of federal workers who do not believe that their agency channels workforce in a creative manner, have said that they will very likely leave their job in the next year. Jezior also thinks that how an agency deals with employees’ ideas may directly link to employee issues like engagement and retention. It also directly impacts how well the organization fulfills its mission.
Need for an Ideas Culture
Jezior believes that agencies can make big strides by creating an ideas culture where agencies seek, embrace, act on and reward employee ideas actively to achieve its goals and innovate. She explained it by saying that if an agency wants an ideas culture to flourish, the leadership must become comfortable with taking risks as well as the possibility of failure. If there is championing from the top, the accountability for supporting ideas can then flow throughout the organization by including connected metrics in performance plans of individuals.
Nicholas McClusky who serves as GBC Director of Research and Strategic Insights stated that due to this information, federal leaders can implement tried and tested strategies in order to harness the ideas and brain power of federal employees.
The survey that states there is a need to collect information and ideas from federal employees also found out that about 48 percent of respondents believe that they are likely to leave their jobs in the next year. However, among the employees who stated that their agency seeks their ideas to improve processes or tools at least once every month, about 31 percent said that they were likely to leave in the next year.
Approximately 49 percent of federal employees stated that their agencies might be open to new ideas, but they were not sure about how to share the ideas. Around 24 percent said that they believed that their agency had no mechanism in place for submitting the ideas. It means that 72 percent of the respondents could see that their ideas would not progress beyond a casual conversation.
About three out of the top four apparent barriers to organizational innovation are related to leadership resistance to change, agency leadership, bureaucratic inertia, and lack of leadership.
How to Create an Ideas Culture at a Federal Agency
The survey that showed a lack of the agency’s attention to federal employees has also offered tips on how to create an ideas culture at a federal agency so that these employees can benefit from it. Some tips include office hours and marketing employee-led initiatives, feedback surveys and working groups to address idea culture gaps, use of innovation committees, innovation competitions, and collaborating & social networking tools for business as well as idea management software platforms. These tips would keep the ideas alive and organized for collaboration, input, and application which will lead to proper utilization of federal employee resources.