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How Public Sector Managers Can Better Engage Their Employees

You might have heard it said that “employees don’t leave jobs; they leave bad managers.” Well, the research backs this up. A study by Development Dimensions International (DDI) showed that 57% of employees left their job because of a manager.

Poor leadership can negatively affect employee engagement, and when employees disengage from their jobs, they are more likely to quit.

The bad news is employee disengagement has increased post-pandemic. According to Gallup, between 2020 and 2022, the number of engaged employees in the U.S. dropped from 36% to 32%, the lowest in 10 years. That means two-thirds of our workforce are disengaged from their work.

This is a worrisome trend that public sector employers should guard against and implement employee engagement strategies to prevent disengagement from taking root.

What is Employee Engagement and Why Does It Matter?

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment employees have to an organization. A positive emotional connection means employees are more invested in the organization’s vision and willing to go the extra mile to support the organization’s goals.

When employees are engaged, they are more productive, happier in their jobs and loyal to the organization.

Why is this important? Because higher levels of employee engagement lead to:

  • An enthusiastic workforce with high morale.
  • A high-performing organization that better serves its constituents.
  • positive workplace culture that attracts and retains talent.

Why Employee Engagement is Important in the Public Sector

According to the Rockefeller Institute of Government, nearly one million government employees left their jobs during the pandemic between 2020 and 2021.

What’s behind these resignations? According to the National Employee Survey (NES), employees cite low morale, feeling unappreciated and a lack of fair compensation as the top reasons for quitting their jobs. Furthermore, many have grown weary of the negative public sentiment toward the government.

Public sector employees are feeling unfulfilled and unhappy in their jobs. Public sector leaders must find solutions to turn employee engagement around.

Engaged employees are proud of their organization and find purpose and meaning in their work. An engaged public sector workforce will deliver a superior service to communities which, in turn, can inspire the public’s confidence in the government.

What Great Managers Do to Engage Their Employees

When employee engagement surveys are conducted, many employees express that they want the following:

  • Appreciation and respect.
  • A safe and supportive workplace culture .
  • Autonomy in their jobs.
  • Two-way communication.
  • Opportunities to learn and advance in the organization.
  • Fair compensation.

A utopian workplace like this won’t magically happen. Managers must make employee engagement a priority if they wish to transform the workplace into one that employees will want to remain at.

4 Steps Managers Can Take to Boost Employee Engagement

1. Measure Employee Engagement Metrics

Before you can fix employee engagement in your organization, you need to know how widespread the problem is and what is causing disengagement.

Measuring employee engagement doesn’t have to be complicated. Conducting regular employee engagement surveys is a quick way to check employee engagement levels.

Employee engagement surveys can be designed to track the following metrics:

  • Voluntary employee turnover.
  • Employee retention rates.
  • Absenteeism rate, which can be a sign of low engagement levels.
  • Employee Net Promoter Score, which measures how many employees are happy to promote the organization as a great place to work to others.
  • Employee performance, as declining productivity could be an indicator of waning employee engagement.

2. Set Your Employees Up to Succeed

Your employees can’t perform optimally if the workplace impedes their progress. Not being able to do your job effectively for reasons beyond your control can be demoralizing. Set your employees up to succeed by:

  • Clearly communicating job expectations.
  • Creating a conducive work environment that is physically comfortable and provides the tools, equipment and resources necessary for employees to carry out their duties.
  • Providing regular feedback and constructive criticism of employees’ performance.
  • Offering training opportunities to enhance and grow their skills.

3. Listen to Feedback From Employees and Act on It

Employees thrive in organizations that allow open two-way communication in which they are safe to express their opinions and feelings. If employees raise issues, it’s important to take their concerns seriously and address the situation. When employees feel heard, it can greatly boost their engagement levels.

4. Recognize, Praise and Reward Good Performance

Nothing kills employee engagement more than doing a great job and not being recognized for it. A word of thanks for the overtime put in, publicly acknowledging their success in a team meeting or issuing a generous bonus or salary increase all go a long way to making employees feel valued.

Key Takeaways

Employee engagement is hard to acquire but quick to lose. It requires an ongoing commitment from line managers to keep a check on their employees’ happiness and intervene when they notice engagement levels dipping.

CPS HR offers an online employee engagement survey tailored to public sector organizations. We can also help you develop personalized solutions to improve employee engagement in your organization. To find out more, fill in this form or call 1.800.822.4277.