Senior civilian leaders launch employee engagement effort

By Lindsay Marchello, Bayonet & Saber /

The Army has witnessed a decline in the Employee Engagement Index according to scores in the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey conducted by the Office of Personnel Management. These scores suggest a negative impact upon the productivity of the Army Civilian workforce.

Employee Engagement is generally defined as the sense of purpose and commitment employees feel toward their employer and its mission. Workforce engagement shares a similar lane with the concept of esprit de corps within the active duty cohort of our Army family and supports our “One Army-One Team” vision.

Brian Smith, Chief of Work Force Development, explained that due to a protracted period of conflict, there has been a lot of stress upon the active duty cohort portion of the Army, but also upon the civilian cohort.

“Civilians went through a great deal of stress and leadership focus has been almost entirely on the active duty cohort, which is where the focus needed to be,” said Smith. “But now, we also want to devote some focus to our civilian cohort. Leadership wants to take a look at those folks who help support our Army behind the scenes.”

In 2008, the Merit System Protection Board conducted a survey of 24 public sector agencies and 36,926 federal employees to determine the effects of employee engagement. The results showed that engaged employees save time, money and resources. Higher levels of employee engagement in federal agencies resulted in better programmatic results, less sick leave usage and fewer EEO complaints.

Senior civilian leaders at Fort Benning will work together to discuss employee engagement and make specific recommendations to improve the conditions for enhanced work force engagement.

Don Sando, deputy to the commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, is leading the effort. “In any big organization and particularly government organizations, it is easy at times to feel like maybe our particular contributions are not significant, we might feel sometimes that we don’t have a voice,” said Sando.

The employee engagement effort aims to give civilians a voice.

“Our overall employee engagement strategy is to make sure that our civilian workforce is a contributing active participant of our mission here at Fort Benning and the MCoE, so the engagement strategy is a proactive way to get after that in a couple different lines of effort,” said Sando.

The MCoE is standing up five virtual senior civilian work groups comprised of civilian leaders from across the Fort Benning community. The sections include the Maneuver Center of Excellence, U.S. Army Garrison Benning, U.S. Army Infantry School, U.S. Army Armor School and Martin Army Community Hospital.

Bob Brown, the deputy director of the MCoE Directorate of Plans, Training Mobilization and Security, will cover Leaders Leading and STRATCOM.

Scott Fabozzi, the director of the Directorate of Training Sustainment, will focus on supervisory relationship.

Jay Brimstin, Ph.D., the deputy director of the MCoE Directorate of Training and Doctrine, will cover career, growth, training and development.

George Desario, director of the Office of the Chief of Armor, will focus on performance management, and
Gary Fox, director of the Office of the Chief of Infantry, will take empowerment and inclusion.

Each work group will provide three to five recommended actions, with each point supported by an action plan. The sustainability and efficiency of the plans will be taken into consideration.

Smith emphasized the importance of recognizing and valuing civilian contributions.

“This leadership effort sends the clear message that we appreciate you, you’re important and we are listening and taking action to make our great organizations even better,” said Smith. Smith also noted the importance of making sure civilians understand their connection to the larger Army mission.

“I think a lot of civilians come on board and go to an office or work area somewhere on the installation and do not recognize their connection to the larger mission,” said Smith. “They do not always understand that whatever they are doing, even though they may not see it directly, directly impacts the mission of the U.S. Army and that is a very important contribution. Army civilians are important team members and full-fledged citizens of the Army Community.”

Senior Civilian leaders from across the installation will meet in August to discuss recommended actions and to determine which are feasible and most important to accomplish.

“It really all comes down to making sure our civilian workforce is well trained, well prepared and well led to be successful members of our organization so we can, in fact, be a Maneuver Center of Excellence,” said Sando.

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