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Federal Employee Engagement: The Motivating Potential of Job Characteristics and Rewards

Federal Employee Engagement: The Motivating Potential of Job Characteristics and Rewards
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Federal Employee Engagement: The Motivating Potential of Job Characteristics and Rewards is based on a 2010 MSPB survey of about 42,000 Federal employees regarding their motivation and engagement in the performance of their work. Federal employee motivation matters to both Federal agencies and the American people, because Federal employees who report high levels of motivation are more likely to perform at a higher level than their less-motivated coworkers. Consequently, understanding and sustaining employee motivation is critical to effective and efficient Government, especially in the current fiscal climate. The study found that Federal agencies can make better use of rewards flexibilities by seeking insight into what employees' value and crafting rewards around them. We found that most Federal employees valued interesting and meaningful work more highly than they did cash awards or bonuses. This report identifies job characteristics and rewards that can increase or reduce motivation, and outlines steps that agencies and managers can take to enhance employee motivation and organizational performance.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary i

Findings ii

Recommendations iv

Introduction 1

Background 1

What is engagement and why is it important? 2

Purpose of Study 4

Merit Principles Survey 2010 Methodology 4

Encouraging Engagement—The Motivating Aspect of Job Characteristics 7

Eff ect of Job Characteristics on Motivation 8

How Motivating are Federal Jobs? 10

Why Does the Motivation Potential Level Matter? 12

Key to Motivation: Improving Job Characteristics 13

Key to Motivation: Linking the Job to Mission Accomplishment 15

Encouraging Engagement—The Motivating Aspect of Rewards 19

Eff ect of Rewards on Motivation 19

How Motivating are Rewards in the Federal Government? 20

Why Do Connections Between Eff ort, Performance, and Rewards Matter? 24

Key to Motivation: Administer the Right Rewards in the Right Way 26

Conclusion 29

Motivation Among Federal Employees 29

Recommendations 33

Job Characteristics 33

Rewards 34

Appendix A: Measurement of the Motivation Potential of Job Characteristics 35

Appendix B: Measurement of the Motivation Force of Eff ort, Performance, and Reward Connections 37

Appendix C: MSPB ’s Engagement Scale Questions 39

Appendix D: The 2010 Merit Principles Survey 41

Appendix E: Overview of the Merit Principles Survey 2010 Methodology 65

Appendix F: Agencies and Subagencies for which Analyses Are Available 69


Federal employees, their supervisors, agency management, union personnel, especially Human Capital officers and employees across the U.S. Federal Government may be interested in this report.  Additionally, members of Congress, and Federal managers within the Office of Management and Budget, and Office of Personnel Management that is responsible for policy making authority may find this guide helpful as a reference with human resources and civil service matters.  Additionally, students pursuing research for courses within these fields, especially public administration, human resources, employment law, organizational development, and industrial-organizational psychology may find this primary source document that deals with civil service issues helpful for assignments.

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