Study: Government Workers Receiving Little Feedback

An Eagle Hill Consulting study finds a disconnect between government employees’ need for performance feedback and how much they receive. Forty-three percent of government workers say they receive feedback only on an annual or semi-annual basis, while 11 percent say they never receive feedback.

Yet, 62 percent of public workers want more immediate “in the moment” feedback on their work performance. This sentiment is higher for younger government workers (69 percent for those aged 18 to 34) compared to mid-career (60 percent for those aged 35 to 54) and older workers (52 percent for those aged 55 and older).

When it comes to remote work, those government employees working in fully remote and hybrid environments are more likely to say that getting constructive feedback is a challenge. More than a third (36 percent) of hybrid workers said getting feedback was a challenge, while 30 percent of fully remote and 25 percent of in-person workers reported feedback as a challenge.

“In the early days of the pandemic, government agencies were forced to move many employees into telework environments. Now, government leaders see that telework is working, with upsides for both workers and employers. One challenge in a telework environment, though, is finding new ways to provide employees with the feedback they need to get the job done and advance in their careers,” said Melissa Jezior, president and CEO of Eagle Hill Consulting.

“For example, our research indicates that about half of government employees are receiving feedback only once or twice a year, and that’s a red flag. Providing employees with regular constructive feedback sets them up for success and helps agencies achieve their mission. And, government employees say they want more feedback, especially younger workers who are early in their careers. This means government leaders and managers should establish more frequent mechanisms for feedback while fostering a culture that encourages more “in the moment” dialogues about performance,” Jezior explained.

This nationwide poll of U.S. government workers also finds:

  • 80 percent say they feel valued when someone takes the time to provide feedback.
  • 78 percent indicate that feedback is important to their professional development.
  • 67 percent agree their organization creates a supportive, comfortable environment for delivering, soliciting, and receiving feedback in the workplace.
  • 59 percent say they receive the same level of feedback during the past two years despite the proliferation of hybrid/remote work.
  • When asked what they need to succeed in their work environment, 35 percent of fully remote government workers said it’s more forums to gather feedback from team leads. Thirty-three percent of hybrid workers held this sentiment, as did 20 percent of in-person employees.
  • During discussions with managers, government employees say it is helpful to align on realistic goals/priorities (43 percent); set goals (22 percent); review performance as it relates to promotion (19 percent), and discuss career development (16 percent).

The findings are based upon The Eagle Hill Performance Management and Feedback Survey 2022, conducted by Ipsos from May 10-12. The nationally representative survey included 1,001 adults in the U.S. aged 18 and older who are employed full-time or part-time. The survey polled respondents on aspects of performance management and feedback.

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