Higher employee engagement leads to higher public trust
Our analysis found that an increase in employee engagement scores led to an increase in public trust.
One way to understand this relationship is by inverting the lens. Disengagement among employees often impacts job performance, which can lead to poor customer experiences, ultimately challenging public trust in government agencies. Importantly, it is not just frontline customer service workers that matter. Even employee engagement among back-office staff who don’t directly interact with citizens can impact trust. It is not just the smile at the counter that can impact trust, but the quality and humanity of government’s work. Regardless of how citizens interact with government, whether in person, online, on the phone, or so on, increasing employee engagement can improve the customer experience, thereby likely increasing public trust. That is the lesson of the Indiana BMV example.
The relationship between employee engagement and trust has important implications for governments. Agencies struggling with low public trust can invest in human capital management practices to increase employee morale and thus create conditions for improving public trust through better employee interactions with constituents.
Aligning employee skills with the agency’s mission can have the biggest impact on public trust
While all of us have different expectations from our workplace, in general, we would like to be involved in activities that are important to our organization. We want to feel that we are part of something important and that our skills support the organization’s mission. Our analysis suggests that this is the most important employee engagement parameter impacting public trust.
This parameter is measured in our data through the category "employee skills–mission match,” which is defined as:
“The extent to which employees feel that their skills and talents are used effectively. Furthermore, it assesses the level to which employees get satisfaction from their work and understand how their jobs are relevant to the organizational mission.”9
This category is built using five questions from the US Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), which measures whether a job matches an employee’s talent and skill, how important it is to the agency’s mission or goals, whether it fosters a feeling of personal accomplishment, and whether the employee views the job as important.
Of the 14 categories, we found employee skills–mission match to have the strongest effect on public trust. In other words, employees who like their work, feel that their talent is being used well, and consider their work to be important, tend to put agencies in a better position to build public trust.10
Figure 4 shows a scatter plot of agency scores on employee skills–mission match and trust. The colors of the dots represent the agencies’ mission area according to Deloitte’s retail-to-regulator (R2R) framework, which categorizes government mission areas into six broad archetypes (figure 5).11 (Read more about Deloitte’s R2R framework.)