What if you could provide your people with a great employee experience? One that has them engaged and learning at work, sharing their positive experiences, and even referring their friends to come work there, too? Not only is this a real possibility, but it’s also increasingly an imperative for employers and employees. 

A recent report from Accenture - EX FACTOR: Reimagining the Employee Experience Through the Operating Model – found that enterprises that invest in employee experience (EX) can better attract and retain top talent, reduce cost to serve, and enhance operational agility.  Leaders that recognize the value of EX strive to provide their employees with a sense of purpose and equip them to take effective action. To accomplish this, organizations need to approach their EX with the same level of care, consideration, and investment they’ve given customers or end-users.

This mindset is especially relevant in the federal sector, as Forrester Research found that only 21% of global government employees say they have a high-quality employee experience, compared with 31% of private-sector employees. This suggests federal agencies have room for improvement in ensuring that employees feel their experience is meaningful and valued, empowering them to tackle the high-impact work inherent in federal employment. A quality employee experience helps federal organizations recruit and retain the best people to carry out their mission-critical work.

Findings from EX Factor

The report offers three main ways to integrate EX into an organization:

  1. Co-create the experience.

Organizations shouldn’t assume they know what employees want or need – instead, they should work with them to research and create the experience together. This can be done through the formation of small teams – or “pods” – to ideate, define, develop, test, and deploy solutions that enhance an employee’s sense of purpose, belonging, and value, while also enabling flexibility in the employee’s work life.

  1. Reimagine the model.

Organizations must be accountable for employee satisfaction just as they are for customer satisfaction. As such, agencies can reorient their services around employees’ perspectives and needs – organizing around outcomes, not functions. This can break down silos so that, for example, onboarding is a seamless and engaging experience, bringing together all necessary steps including payroll and benefits setup, facilities access, role orientation, and more.

Measure the success of the reimagined model through a combination of traditional key performance indicators (KPIs) such as workforce productivity and retention, as well as new key experience indicators (KEIs), such as a service net promoter score.

  1. Empower humans and machines.

Organizations can embrace technology to liberate employees for more innovative and meaningful tasks, sparing them the mundane tasks that machines do more efficiently. Our modeling projects that nearly half (49%) of federal workers' time could be augmented using AI, which is 5% higher than the average of the 15 industries analyzed. The catch? Just 18% of federal executives report preparing their workforces for collaborative, interactive, and explainable AI-based systems.

How federal agencies can embrace EX

Federal employment offers a distinctively meaningful employee experience as federal employees truly play a vital role and make an impact on the lives of others. At the same time, federal employers face unique operating requirements not in place for their commercial counterparts.

With this in mind, the following are some key steps agencies can take to further enhance the employee experience:

  1. Adjust perception and start small.

The employee experience is perhaps even more important for federal workers than commercial – consider that the average federal employee’s tenure is 8.2 years as of January 2020, compared to 3.7 years in the private sector. This isn’t a brand-new perspective either – already, we are seeing an uptick in agencies knowing they have to elevate their employee experience.

We recommend federal HR leaders think broadly and creatively first, before narrowing down solutions. Seek not to be constrained by legacy mindsets during the brainstorming stage. Big ideas are welcome.

Federal agencies also don’t need to undergo expensive, whole-scale changes to incorporate EX. Small steps can improve employees experience in the journey from recruitment to the last day of service.

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Federal agencies also don’t need to undergo expensive, whole-scale changes to incorporate EX. Small steps can improve employees experience in the journey from recruitment to the last day of service.


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For example, a virtual or in-person lunch with agency’s leadership in the first week on the job can help employees feel more integrated from the beginning. A well-structured mentorship program can provide invaluable support as employees navigate unfamiliar situations in their new organization.

  1. Keep employees central to the process from the beginning.

Reimagining EX should be a human-centered process and as such, employees must be the cornerstone from the beginning.

Employees are typically happy to share their thoughts. Agencies can hold forums and other virtual engagements to seek employee input. They can also survey their workforce to better understand what they need and desire to stay engaged and work productively.

But beyond collecting this input, agencies should then actively integrate these findings into their processes.

For example, technology and social media strongly influence the lives of employees and job seekers. Thus, agencies can prioritize digital channels to adapt. Many members of tech-savvy “Generation Z” use smartphones not only to purchase items from a store but to apply for jobs.

Agencies should ultimately keep the employee value proposition (EVP) central to how they communicate with employees. The EVP is the promise organizations make to their employees in return for the skills and capabilities people bring to that organization. Consistent reminders of the EVP can elevate the employee experience and help remind employees why they are there.

  1. Tie action items to overall strategy.

The employee experience can’t be built in a vacuum. Rather, it should tie to key priorities for the agency – benefitting both the organization and employees in the long-term.

Consider how many government employees value reskilling opportunities. In fact, Accenture found that 93% of public sector employees are likely to refer their employer if they receive career development opportunities.

Meanwhile, organizations need to attract new technological skills. Forty-three percent of executives surveyed by Accenture anticipate that in the next three years more than 60% of their workforce will move into new roles requiring substantial reskilling due to the impact of technology.

Reskilling can elevate the employee experience and boost ROI – benefitting both employees and employers.

Boosting EX for a more resilient workforce

A positive employee experience is crucial to supporting recruiting and retention, as well as workers’ engagement and productivity, and benefits both the workforce and the agency’s goals in tandem. The biggest obstacle federal agencies need to overcome is the perception of limitations, or the belief that they face too many restrictions to provide positive EX.

Good EX is within reach. By prioritizing solutions and processes built around actual outcomes as opposed to traditional corporate structures, federal agencies can enhance their EX. Ultimately, creating an employee experience that attracts and keeps top talent in federal agencies is all about taking small steps that place employees’ needs first.

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Amber Messersmith

Senior Manager - Accenture Federal Services, Human Capital

Ati Rahbani

Senior Manager – Accenture Federal Services, Human Capital

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