Survey: 1 in 3 Government Workers Say Agencies Aren’t Fostering Employee Connection

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The survey suggests increased emphasis on connection-building could increase talent retention efforts.

Federal agencies may be wise to consider upping investment in employee connection, according to a survey released Tuesday by Eagle Hill Consulting.

The survey, which polled more than 500 government employees in January, found 37% of those polled say their agencies are not investing in employee connection, which the survey defined as connection to work, to people at work and to the organization itself.

Nearly half of respondents (49%) reported that feeling connected to their work and a sense of purpose mattered the most in rating their day-to-day experiences, and more than half (57%) said feeling connected to their work improves their ability to do their job.

More than half (53%) said that connection increased their desire to go “above and beyond” at work and another 46% said it improves their ability to serve agency customers.

The survey results come as the federal government struggles filling the ranks of retiring employees, a loss of institutional knowledge and particularly difficult problems addressing tech workforce challenges.

“Often, government agencies take a narrow view of employee connection, defining it only in terms of employee relationships,” Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting, said in a statement.  “But employee connection is so much more, and government leaders are wise to take a bigger picture view. Employee connection is about fostering a workplace where government workers feel connection not just to their colleagues, but also to their work, organization and culture.”

The survey indicates significant generational differences in the importance employees place on connections at work. For example, feeling connected to an agency’s culture is significantly more important to Millennials (25%) than it is to Gen Xers (14%) and Baby Boomers (7%). Nearly half of Millennials (44%) report that feeling connected to their organizational culture impacts their ability to do their job, compared to only 18% of Baby Boomers.Nearly 2 in 3 Baby Boomers in government report that “sense of purpose” is the most important driver for their overall work experience, while only 41% of Millennials report the same.

According to the survey, the best ways agencies can create a sense of connection are team meetings (44%), developing common goals (42%), hearing from leadership (36%) and organizing social events (35%).