You hear a lot about employee engagement these days. Seems every organization will tell you it’s important, including the U.S. Postal Service.
But what exactly is employee engagement? Is it just a fancy name for morale? Partially it’s about morale. But engagement also encompasses professionalism, dedication, and pride in the mission. The idea is to have employees who are committed and motivated to do their best work.
USPS made employee engagement a top priority a couple of years ago and used the Postal Pulse survey as a way to evaluate it. In early 2016, a Human Resources team created eight engagement activities that included continuation of the Postal Pulse employee survey, action planning, training for managers and supervisors, employee engagement website and publications, and an awards program for those who contribute to an engaging workplace.
We recently assessed the Postal Service’s employee engagement activities. While we recognized that USPS has activities in progress and there can be lag time before they take effect, we identified opportunities to improve the execution of three specific activities: action planning; assessing employee comments on social media; and correlating employee engagement with business outcomes.
Our audit report noted that the number of managers and supervisors developing action plans for employees had declined from year to year, despite proof that development of an action plan generally doubled employee engagement. We recommended management make action plans mandatory ― not voluntary, as they are today.
We also found USPS did not monitor or respond to comments on employee-focused social media sites. We noted that best practices would have employers respond to comments to demonstrate that employees’ opinions matter.
Finally, we noted that strong employee engagement correlates with business outcomes, notably in some key areas for the Postal Service:
- Timeliness of Standard Mail delivery, indicating districts with highly engaged employees delivered Standard Mail on-time at a greater percentage than those districts with low engagement.
- Low staffing ratios (number of carriers assigned per route) and unscheduled leave occurrences, indicating districts with highly engaged employees accomplished work using fewer carriers per route and experienced less unscheduled leave.
What other improvements do you think could result from better employee engagement? What are the best ways to engage employees, in your opinion?