Efforts to Improve Employee Engagement in the Public Sector Show Promise, but Barriers to Assessing Engagement Remain

Maria Villareal, Research Associate
1617 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Ph: (703) 549-3100
Fax: (703) 684-0948
Web: www.ipma-hr.org
Email: mvillarreal@ipma-hr.org

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Oct. 1, 2019 – Around one-in-five public sector organizations are seeing efforts to improve employee engagement pay off in more collaboration among staff members, higher worker retention rates, and increased communication both within departments and from the top of the organization to frontline workers.

At the same time, government agencies and departments are finding it difficult to even measure what is and isn’t working in terms of engaging employees. Lack of resources holds back small organizations with fewer than 500 workers, and insufficient buy-in from senior leadership at the largest public sector organizations is keeping employee engagement assessments from being conducted each year.

These findings come from IPMA-HR’s 2019 Benchmarking Survey. Other key insights reported in 2019 IPMA-HR Benchmarking Report: Employee Engagement & Retention include

  • Public sector HR professionals at large organizations (≥10,000 workers) reported carrying out employee engagement efforts (71%) more often than did members from medium-sized organizations (68%) and small organizations (60%).
  • Involving staff in decision-making (45%) was the most frequently cited effort to engage employees, followed by increasing communications (24%).
  • Employee satisfaction (90%) and workplace culture (85%) are the measures most commonly included in employee engagement studies.
  • Across all organizations, leadership support was cited as the most helpful factor in initiating an employee engagement study.

The benchmarking data come from the responses of 417 IPMA-HR members to a survey that was sent to all 7,206 Association members during June and July 2019. Non-members may request a copy of the report by contacting Maria Villarreal.


The International Public Management Association for Human Resources is the leading public sector human resource organization in the world. We represent the interests of human resource professionals at all levels and strive to promote excellence in HR management. Since 1906, IPMA-HR has been a resource for comprehensive and timely HR industry news, jobs, policies, resources, education and professional development opportunities.

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