NASA, FDIC score high marks for leadership communication

Thursday - 7/31/2014, 12:02pm EDT

When it comes to leadership communication, NASA and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation rise to the top, according to a Partnership for Public Service analysis released Wednesday.

The report is part of the partnership's Best Places to Work analysis.

In conducting the analysis, the partnership and Deloitte examined the results of three questions from the Office of Personnel Management's 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The questions address how satisfied employees are with communication and information they receive from senior management.

As with job satisfaction and morale, employees' views on the effectiveness of leadership communication are dropping across the federal government.

Data from the analysis shows that 44.8 percent of the federal workforce is satisfied with communication it receives from agency leadership — a 3.9 percent drop since 2009.

In addition, government employees report less satisfaction than their private sector counterparts. According to data from the Hay Group, 60 percent of private sector employees are satisfied with the information they receive from management

Based on 2013 data, NASA scores highest among large agencies on the leadership communication index, with 68 points out of 100.

NASA hosts Virtual Executive Summits, which allow Administrator Charles Bolden to connect with employees online. Employees across the nation are able to virtually participate in live sessions and activities through NASA's human resources portal.

"This initiative demonstrates how agency leaders can leverage technology to engage in meaningful interactions with employees, even when these employees are based in diverse geographic locations," the report stated.

Managers at regional NASA offices also hold focus groups and surveys with their employees to ask for feedback.

FDIC tops the list of mid-sized agencies, with a leadership communication score of 68.8.

Agency leaders hold quarterly call-ins that allow employees — both in Washington, D.C., and at regional offices — to speak directly with Chairman Martin Gruenberg.

FDIC managers host virtual and in-person town hall meetings to pass down information from senior leadership to frontline employees.

Top 5 - Leadership Communication Rankings by Agency Size

Large Mid-size Small
NASA (68.0) Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (68.8) Surface Transportation Board (75.9)
Intelligence Community (61.8) Nuclear Regulatory Commission (65.9) Federal Labor Relations Authority (73.7)
Treasury Department (58.0) Federal Trade Commission (64.6) Overseas Private Investment Corporation (70.3)
Social Security Administration (57.3) Federal Communications Commission (60.5) Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (69.3)
Commerce Department (56.7) Office of Personnel Management (60.2) National Endowment for the Humanities (66.4)

The departments of Homeland Security, Interior, Housing and Urban Development and the Broadcasting Board of Governors round out the bottom of the lists, each scoring less than 50.

The Office of the Trade Representative receives the lowest ranking among all agencies, with a score of 34.1 points.

"There is a statistically significant correlation between effective workplace communication and employee job satisfaction," the report said.

Trends in the leadership communication rankings match strongly with Best Places to Work rankings. NASA and FDIC were among the highest ranked, while HUD and EPA were at the bottom of the list.

For the agencies with less-than-desirable scores, the partnership recommends making communication a "consistent priority for leadership."

It also advises agency managers to use both conventional and innovative platforms when communicating with employees. Agencies can continue to hold one-on-one meetings and send emails, but they can also explore newer techniques, such as video conferencing and social media.

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