Resident ratings are a key measure used in many local government performance management systems as an indicator of service quality. And researchers are studying the link between positive resident ratings and employees’ job satisfaction. In other words, attention to the well-being of employees should have an impact on how highly residents rate your community services.
Here’s an example: Over a period of three years, a city manager developed a plan to improve what she viewed as lackluster employee ratings of organizational quality – work environment, wages and benefits, communication, and the like. By the end of the period, not only were employees reporting better work conditions, but here was the big surprise – in a citizen survey, residents also gave improved ratings of their community and local government.
Employee satisfaction improves customer resident ratings in the private sector
The link between employee perspectives and customer attitudes has been demonstrated in many studies.* In the private sector, evidence shows that better organizational commitment to service (measured by employee surveys) not only links to better client relations, but is a bridge to better company financials.**
For local governments, the analogue to company financials is community livability. If you improve employee motivation, engagement, and satisfaction, you make it more likely that you’ll be able to build a stronger, more livable community – just as tuning all the parts of a stock car engine is the necessary precursor to winning the Daytona 500.
Local government employee opinion research
Much of the research on government employee attitudes has come from regular federal government reports of its employees. Now, we have a large database unique to local government employee opinion that aggregates survey data from thousands of employees in cities and counties across the United States. The National Employee Survey™ (The NES™), conducted by National Research Center, provides results that help managers understand what already is well oiled in the organizational machine, what still needs tuning, and which parts of the machine matter most to success.
For each of these employee surveys, scores of answers are categorized into twelve dimensions of service: employee performance evaluation, communication and decision making, employee development, morale and modeling, wages and benefits, employee-supervisor relationship, quality of internal support services, timeliness of internal support services, department performance, employee contribution and fit, physical work environment, and job satisfaction. (Several survey questions on The NES™ come from The National Citizen Survey™, allowing these two survey tools to work together in a powerful way.)
What survey data reveal
When we aggregate results from thousands of participating employees, we can see common, essential characteristics of the local government work environment. This graph shows two important results from these surveys: the ratings of each dimension of work and the two dimensions that are most closely linked to employee satisfaction.
First, the aspects of local government work that are least favored by employees are employee performance evaluations, communication and decision making, and opportunities for development. At the top of the ratings are job satisfaction, the physical work environment, and employee contribution and fit to the job. Broadly, employees rate these dimensions highest because local governments deliver best on those aspects of the job.
Key drivers for overall job satisfaction
The dimensions of employment that have the strongest influence are those that matter most for better overall job satisfaction. The graph shows the most important aspects of work environment are morale and modeling combined with contribution and fit. As the key drivers of job satisfaction, these two dimensions are most closely associated with employees’ job satisfaction ratings (even though morale and modeling, on average, is rated lower).
Employees are most likely to express the greatest job satisfaction when they sense strong organizational morale, have trust in their leadership, have jobs that fit their talents, and are able to make meaningful contributions. When organizational morale and personal fit are weak, job satisfaction suffers.
These insights offer a starting point as managers seek to improve the workplace: the engine that drives excellent service delivery and resident opinion about the quality of community life. You can tune up your organization by asking your employees to reflect on their jobs, commitment, colleagues, and leadership and to determine the factors that are most important to them for a more satisfying job experience.
* Corporate Leadership Council, “Linking Employee Satisfaction with Productivity, Performance, and Customer Satisfaction."
** See Schneider, B et al. “Organizational Service Climate Drivers of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) and Financial and Market Performance.” Journal of Service Research. Volume 12 Number 1, August 2009 3-14, c 2009.