Research and Innovation

To Improve FEVS Scores, Take a Deeper Dive into the “eh”

August 5, 2022
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Whether you’re managing a small office or an entire organization, look for ways to improve your Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) scores across the board — not just in the negative areas. Making incremental changes that are meaningful and measurable in all areas can help improve employee engagement and morale. However, to do so, you first have to uncover the underlying reasons for the scores.

Dig Deep to Find the Drivers

Data is great, but you’ll need to use deep-dive analysis to understand what the results mean. For example, scores may show that employees aren’t satisfied with the policies and practices of senior leaders. But at what level of leadership? Which policies and practices? A thorough deep-dive analysis will help uncover what employees were thinking when they rated areas. It can pinpoint specific challenges and strengths, connect relevant themes across the survey, and identify trends and opportunities. Focus group discussions and one-on-one interviews can help you get to the heart of the matter. With this deeper analysis, you can start making visible progress in the areas that are driving the results.

 

Start with the Good

Many managers will naturally want start their analysis by resolving the negative scores. However, it’s more important to understand what your organization is doing well and why. Look at the areas where you’ve made significant improvements and what contributed to them — specifically, what practices, policies and programs are already working well? By understanding your organization’s strengths, you can continue to do what is positively impacting the employee experience and might be able to translate some of those tactics toward areas where your organization fell short. Focusing on the positive first ensures you don’t accidentally slip in areas where you’re seeing positive momentum and real change. At least a few of the actions in your action plan should focus on maintaining continuity where employees are reacting positively.

 

Then Look at the Neutral or “eh”

Neutral responses where people neither agree nor disagree can be areas of great opportunity. These scores indicate that employees have no strong opinion either way — things aren’t good or bad, they’re just “eh.” People who give neutral ratings may be swayed to the positive or the negative, depending on what action is or isn’t taken. Moving employee opinions from neutral to positive (agree) is much easier than moving them from negative (disagree) to positive (agree). So, look at the neutrals as part of the equation to develop a few targeted actions that can build satisfaction and engagement in areas where employees think things are just “ok.”

 

Finally, Take on the Bad

Once you’ve taken a few of the easier actions on the positive and neutral feedback, dive into the negative scores and focus on that are within your control. While you may not be able to revise the government pay structure, you do have control over things like career development, training, communication, and promoting a healthy leadership culture within your organization. Keep in mind that it’s difficult and rare to move large numbers of employees from “negative” to “neutral.” But by identifying root causes and addressing them, you can lay the groundwork for substantial improvement in the years ahead.

 

Develop an Action Plan

After you obtain a more complete understanding of where your employees believe your organization is succeeding, being neutral, and failing, you can develop a strategic action plan. Creating a strategic action plan gives leaders and employees an opportunity to work together in an open and transparent way to identify solutions to effect change and achieve goals. A good action plan delineates each step, including designated leads, resources, timeframes, milestones, and desired outcomes. Ideally the plan will include measurable, achievable, and time-bound goals. It should also integrate any initiatives that are already underway and tie into any overarching organizational goals. The action plan will serve as a basis for implementing the interventions as well as a guide for communicating to employees and the organization.

 

If You Want Results, Stay Committed

Many agencies and organizations think about taking action to improve their FEVS results after the annual release but fail to follow through on meeting their goals throughout the year. Making large FEVS improvements is not easy, but it can be done! Agencies with more satisfied and engaged federal workforces are not only better places to work, but often achieve higher rates of mission success. As you chip away, your organization will enjoy increased employee retention and stronger recruitment capabilities as the bad gets better, the “eh” becomes good, and the good becomes excellent!

 

You Don’t Have to Do It Alone

At LMI, we have deep expertise in walking organizations through the FEVS analysis and action planning process. Our proprietary approach enables us to analyze scores quickly, then leverage our combination of organizational development skills, behavioral science training, and business acumen to 1) identify solutions and the most impactful levers to pull for change, 2) develop detailed action plans to drive results, 3) communicate each of the steps and the outcomes along the way, and 4) help you create sustainable change and achieve success.

 

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