Employee Engagement Matters Now More Than Ever

April 11, 2012

President Obama’s 2013 proposed $3.8 trillion federal budget includes 210 cuts and other measures designed to save $24 billion. Nearly all U.S. federal government agencies are facing this looming budget crunch and will be forced to become leaner and deliver more with fewer resources in the years to come.

Many government employees living in the shadows of pay freezes and inevitable workforce reductions will choose to retire or look for rewarding opportunities in the private sector, particularly given recent indications of economic recovery. Approximately 550,000 full-time federal government employees, about a quarter of the U.S. government workforce, were eligible to retire as of May 2011, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

In this time of uncertainty and fluctuation, how can government agencies retain their best and brightest talent, and attract ambitious and promising young workers to the federal employment ranks?

There are several key factors savvy federal employers will focus on to mitigate the loss of key talent during times of fiscal austerity. Employee engagement—an individual’s perceived sense of purpose, autonomy and mastery on the job—is critical, as are social and cultural environment issues, including working relationships with colleagues and management.

Government agencies that effectively engage employees and proactively develop leaders will fuel their talent engines to withstand the rigors of a challenging economic environment and build bench strength to meet future demands.

Look for more insights on this topic from PDRI, including how to nurture the top 10 employee engagement behaviors that will enable your organization to retain the best and brightest talent, in the “Home Page” column of the April 15th issue of Federal Computer Week (

Elaine Pulakos