The SEC’s Director of the Office of Human Resources (OHR), Lacey Dingman, will testify this morning before the House Governmental Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations. The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) will be submitting written testimony to the subcommittee. The purpose of the hearing is to review trends in employee engagement as reported in the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government annual rankings. Due directly to successful labor-management collaboration in recent years, in the most recent Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), the SEC saw significant improvement in employee engagement scores, and the Partnership for Public Service has recognized the agency as the “most improved” of any mid-sized federal agency.
The recent history of the SEC illustrates how successful labor-management collaboration can address agency-wide cultural problems, boosting employee engagement and overall mission accomplishment.
In 2008, the Partnership for Public Service ranked the SEC 3rd on its annual list of the Best Places to Work (“BPTW”) in the federal government, which is a key indicator of employee engagement and productivity. In 2011, just three years later, the SEC’s ranking had plummeted to 27th out of 33 large agencies. Candidly, this substantial drop followed significant changes in the SEC’s approach to human capital issues and labor relations, which ignored employee perspectives on the full-range of the Commission’s work at a critical time in the agency’s history.
Since 2011, with a renewed commitment to a labor-management partnership through the SEC’s national Labor Management Forum (LMF) process, the SEC’s work-place culture has re-bounded. In 2016, the SEC ranked 6th out of 27 mid-sized federal agencies. In 2016, several of the SEC’s work units ranked among the highest in the federal government. These include the SEC’s Office of Financial Management (3rd out of 350), the Division of Investment Management (7th out of 350), and the Division of Enforcement (16th out of 350). Overall the SEC had a total of nine work units in the top 50 in the federal government. The SEC now ranks in the top 10 in most of the Best Places to Work categories, including work-life balance, which has improved significantly due to gains by the union in recent years.
The SEC is once again among the top federal agencies who are employers of choice across the entire government. The SEC’s success at improving employee engagement has been driven by a substantial commitment by SEC management and NTEU Chapter 293, to a collaborative effort focused on building labor-management relationships in key divisions and offices, generating input from front-line staff directed at improving work processes and improving recognition for work that is marked by quality, creativity and innovation.
In 2013 the SEC’s national Labor Management Forum launched an agency-wide effort to establish “local labor management forums” (“LLMFs”) in key divisions and offices. Each is tasked with labor-management collaboration designed to improve the work unit’s delivery of services. The LLMFs have generated numerous key initiatives. These include improvements in work assignment processes, more efficient document management systems, and detail opportunities that provide employees the chance to perform front-line work in other SEC work units with a goal of bringing the experience they gain back to their permanent positions. LLMFs have also spearheaded locally generated training programs designed to address the needs of particular work units.
In addition, the national Labor Management Forum has also developed and now sponsors a robust agency-wide program designed to facilitate each division and office’s efforts to address areas for improvement identified in the annual FEVS survey. This includes providing individualized FEVS analysis, often presented jointly, to labor and management representatives from individual work units. In work units with noteworthy deficiencies, the LMF also provides joint labor/management teams to meet with staff in order to develop a deeper understanding of the work unit’s particular challenges.
The LMF has also developed an internal SEC internet site that provides managers and labor representatives with a wide-range of user-friendly FEVS data. This affords local work units the ability to work with FEVS data as they develop local initiatives that address employee perspectives specific to their particular work unit.
The LMF has also spearheaded efforts to promote improved strategies for recognizing high performing employees. The federal sector does not have the funding to reward employee contributions with substantial monetary awards. The LLMFs have served as forums for joint labor-management discussions directed at identifying the most effective way to recognize high performing employees in their work units. As a result, individual work units have been able to tailor their programs to their local needs. This includes approaches to awards given under the employee recognition provisions of the CBA. But, it also includes opportunities for professional growth and development through attendance at conferences, leading staff meetings and special projects.
“These efforts and others like them have all had the effect of improving employee engagement and performance,” NTEU Chapter 293 President Greg Gilman noted this morning. “Along with more favorable FEVS scores, the SEC has seen increased metrics in its Enforcement and Examination programs. Like SEC management, NTEU strongly believes that our joint success enhances our ability to accomplish our mission as the investor’s advocate.”