OPM’s employee engagement project likely to stay in effect, despite Pon’s departure

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Amid the departure of Director Jeff Pon, the Office of Personnel Management has asked federal leaders to begin developing strategies to improve their workforce engagement, as directed by the President’s Management Agenda (PMA).

Pon’s tenure at ended abruptly Friday, but his name was atop a memo sent Thursday that directed agency leaders to go forth on plans to improve the performance management and employee engagement of their lowest-performing components and bureaus. The broad directive comes as the Trump administration has emphasized development of the federal workforce to adapt to new technologies.

“It is critical that work unit leaders receive the guidance and support needed to effectively examine their group’s data, conduct additional analyses where needed and develop effective action plans,” he said in the memo.

As part of the PMA, OPM has been tasked with overseeing efforts to across the federal government by identifying areas of focus by using data from the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) Employee Engagement Index.

OPM has a subgoal within the PMA that directs agencies to provide a data reporting standard for identifying the bottom 20 percent of their components and bureaus on the employee engagement survey.

Agencies must then craft plans to improve those components and bureaus by 20 percent before a 2020 deadline.

The memo calls for agencies to provide OPM with a list of work units within each component/bureau in the next six weeks, as well as an overview of its plans to reach the 20 percent improvement goal.

OPM is also providing tools through its UnLockTalent.gov community of practice, UnlockTalent Connect, for agencies to use to develop their plans. Agencies can also use the FEVS Data Explorer or the National Institutes of Health’s Employee Viewpoint Survey Analysis & Results Tool to analyze their FEVS data.

The White House has chosen Margaret Weichert, the Office of Management and Budget’s deputy director for management, to lead OPM. Pon resigned Friday suddenly, and neither the White House nor OPM offered details about why.

Given Weichert’s prominent leadership role in guiding the PMA, OPM is likely to continue to pursue the goals laid out in Pon’s memo.

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Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, Jeff Pon, Margaret Weichert, Office of Personnel Management (OPM), President's Management Agenda (PMA)