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Measuring Employee Engagement in the Public Sector

Greg Tricklebank

When I started working as a consultant, nearly 20 years ago, employee engagement was a largely foreign concept in the federal Public Service.  That’s why it’s gratifying to see the new Head of the Public Service, in his first Annual Report to the Prime Minister, identifying employee engagement as one of his five top priorities for 2010-11.

The efficacy of elevated employee engagement

According to studies cited in The Oxford Handbook of Public Management (OUP, 2005 p.120), participative decision making (the effective behavioural adjunct to employee engagement) “… has a number of positive outcomes in organizations, most of the time”.  Although clear productivity or efficiency gains show up in only about half the cases, participative decision making “… enhances employee job satisfaction and individual performance and, through reducing absenteeism and turnover and improving the flow of information, improves organizational effectiveness.”

Universal employee engagement measures

Measuring employee engagement is still a challenge – so it is welcome news that The Conference Board has developed and tested an easy-to-use survey instrument called the Conference Board Employee Engagement Barometer.  The Conference Board (and its sister organization, The Conference Board of Canada) is a global not-for-profit organization with a reputation for rigorous, in-depth research on Human Capital and other economic and business subjects.  According to their Research Report, the Global Barometer is a cross-culturally valid measure of what appears to be a universal definition of employee engagement.

Interesting? Dig deeper

For more information about the Global Barometer and how it could be used in conjunction with the Public Service Employee Survey, see my white paper on “Measuring Employee Engagement: A Strategic Priority for Deputy Heads in the Canadian Public Service”.

Please leave your thoughts and ideas on this topic in the comments section of this page.  I would love to hear what people think.

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About this Article

Posted by Greg Tricklebank
Posted on July 13, 2010

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Categories: hr & talent management, organizational development, public service renewal