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Federal innovation continues to suffer as morale drops
Medici, A. (2015, April 2). Staff Writer. Federal Times.
Government innovation continues to suffer federal employees struggle with low morale, a lack of empowerment and little recognition.
Government innovation continues to suffer as federal employees struggle with low morale, a lack of empowerment and little recognition, according to a new report released April 1.
The Partnership for Public Service's Best Places to Work Innovation Analysis saw the government's innovation score fall to 58.9 out of a possible 100 points – the lowest since the group began tracking it in 2010.
Overall the innovation score has fallen 4.4 points since 2010, matching the decline in federal employee job and workplace satisfaction occurring at the same time, according to the report.
"Overall, the data suggests employees do not feel empowered in their work and are not being recognized for their efforts, two underlying conditions that need to change for an innovative culture to flourish," the report said.
NASA led large agencies in the innovation rankings with a score of 76.7 – up slightly from last year. The Department of Homeland Security was dead last among large agencies, with an innovation score of 49.4 and actually fell 1.3 points from last year.
NASA's success is due in large part to a variety of programs run by the agency to encourage creative thinking. The agency hosts NASA@Work, an internal virtual platform letting employees share ideas and solve challenges, with the best ideas receiving awards. The agency also gives out a "Lean Forward, Fail Smart Award" designed to encourage NASA employees to be "responsible risk takers."
The agency that saw the biggest improvement over 2013 was the Labor Department, which climbed from 54.6 points to 56.3 points in 2014. But despite the improvement the agency still ranked 17 out of 18 large agencies, according to the report.
The biggest drop among large agencies came from the Veterans Affairs Department, which fell 1.4 points in 2014 to 57.7. The VA also ranked toward the bottom of the list.
But while agencies continue to struggle with tight budgets and hiring slowdowns or freezes, federal managers will need to work harder to engage employees and find creative solutions to mission problems, the report said.
"The current operating environment of budget cuts and hiring slowdowns, as well as the need to become more efficient and improve government service delivery requires that federal agencies develop innovative ways to do business," the report said.
Also, recruitment and retention could be at risk if the federal government does not find a way to boost innovation, according to the report. A Deloitte survey of more than 3,200 young workers showed that 67 percent look at an organization's reputation for innovation when looking at prospective employers.
"Creating an environment that fosters employee innovation can help agencies more effectively fulfill their missions, lead to a more engaged workforce and better serve the needs of the American people," the report said. "The four-year decline regarding employee views of innovation in the federal workplace shows there is much work to be done."