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FEVS Tips for Federal Leaders


Sylviane Haldiman

Date Published

Feb 16, 2024
7 minute read

Sylviane Haldiman is a former senior executive at the Social Security Administration and current advisor to The Clearing. During her time at SSA, she was an executive lead for the agency’s efforts around FEVS – the Federal Employment Viewpoint Survey. As the 2024 survey approaches, Sylviane provides her insights on driving team member FEVS engagement and actioning against the results.

Level-Set: What is FEVS? 

Last year, we took a deep dive into FEVS, or the Federal Employment Viewpoint Survey. It’s a great primer whether you are going through the process for the first time or are a FEVS veteran. As a former fed, I am well acquainted with FEVS, having been the lead executive for FEVS scores in my organization. Throughout my career, I found FEVS valuable across levels. Early on, it provided me (and my fellow employees) a safe and confidential way to share how we felt about a multitude of workplace topics. Later, as a leader, the window FEVS provided into team member viewpoints was critical in determining areas of focus to improve both employee and customer experience. Below, I’ll share a few tips for federal leaders on how to get the most out of the survey and what to do with the results.

FEVS Leadership Insights

As an executive lead for FEVS at my agency, my role was to engage employees in the FEVS process, encourage participation, ensure them of the safety net of anonymity, and share survey results and subsequent action plans. Here is some insight into how I approached this process that may help you drive more value from FEVS for your agency.

Communicate, then Communicate Some More.

I always believed the more we could drive participation, the more positive organizational change we could enable. So, driving employee engagement was priority number one for me. To do so, I worked with our communications team to create a clear communications plan focused on the benefits of participation. As part of that plan, we focused on two distinct phases.

  1. Pre-survey communications centered on the positive organizational change and improved employee experience that could be achieved through participation.
  2. Post-survey communications focused on transparency in reporting results, how we compared against other agencies, and what we would be working on and planning for based on the results.

Throughout the survey period, I held regular meetings with our HR team to monitor engagement and receive updates on what percentage of team members had replied, along with how that rate compared to others within different functions. These participation rates helped plan our communications cadence.

As a leadership team, we also leveraged our informal networks to determine if there was a block or reticence to participate, especially for new employees. This approach also helped us discover a few surprises, such as hearing that some seasoned team members felt they hadn’t seen differences in the areas that they had scored, so FEVS wasn’t worth participating in. This information proved invaluable in crafting the content for our communications, ensuring we focused on the specific areas where people had concerns.

Focus on Accountability.

No matter the survey participation rate, the results won’t matter without leadership accountability. This is not to say the majority of leaders don’t have good intentions to leverage the FEVS results; it’s simply that there is a long – and increasing – list of things federal leaders are asked to do. To ensure action against FEVS results is a priority, leaders must be vested in the outcome. To facilitate this at my former agency, we included FEVS components in our leadership team’s performance plans.

We asked each leader to choose a FEVS component their team didn’t score well on or was a hot-button issue for their team members that they wanted to improve. Each leader then engaged with their teams on that component and worked collaboratively on an action plan. This served two purposes. First, it drove further FEVS engagement across levels by getting more people invested in the outcomes. Second, it allowed team members to understand that what they were saying in the survey mattered.

Finally, at the end of each performance cycle, each leader’s progress against their FEVS goals was evaluated as part of their review and against subsequent FEVS scores in the same component.

Listen and Learn.

The FEVS results themselves are a tremendous learning opportunity. However, leaders often learn even more when developing their action plans – particularly when they involve team members at different levels as recommended above. Here’s an example that has stuck with me.

One leader’s FEVS scores didn’t suggest issues with leadership opportunities. However, upon digging into the results with team members, it became apparent that a certain type of leadership opportunity was missing. Historically, leadership opportunities were structured around preparing people for management. What this leader discovered was that there were team members who didn’t want to go into management but still desired leadership, particularly in technical areas and project management. The discussion was akin to a lightbulb coming on – we simply hadn’t considered leadership opportunities in that way before.

As a result of this feedback, we not only implemented technical leadership programs and improved employee experience in an area we had previously been blind to, but we demonstrated to team members why their participation in FEVS mattered.

Lastly, it’s also critical to seek out and listen to your peers from other divisions or agencies. Breaking down silos and asking leaders how they have improved engagement or actioned against scores is a great way to avoid reinventing the wheel.

Parting Thoughts

My final piece of advice is to remember that FEVS scores aren’t an indictment. They’re a snapshot of performance and employee satisfaction at a given time. That means they’re not permanent and with the right plan can be improved upon, driving better employee experience, better customer experience, and more value for the American people.

If you have questions about FEVS in general or want to discuss how to action against specific findings, our team of cross-functional experts is ready to help. Reach out anytime – we would love to chat.