Governor’s Office Lags Behind in Worker Survey

March 5, 2014
By
Expected staff turnover and low morale were some of the problems highlighted by Colorado state workers in the “Governor’s Office” category.

Expected staff turnover and low morale were some of the problems highlighted by Colorado state workers in the “Governor’s Office” category.

DENVER — A recent survey of Colorado state employees gave strong overall marks to the executive branch but didn’t reflect particularly well on the Governor’s Office.

Headed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, that office received below-average ratings on the 2013 Employee Engagement Survey in areas such as leadership, morale, and workload.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State’s Office received some of the highest marks in the anonymous survey of state employees, outperforming the Governor’s Office across the board in leadership, efficiency, effectiveness and elegance.

Not surprisingly, the results released last week have seeped into the gubernatorial campaign, given that the Democrat Hickenlooper is running for reelection and Secretary of State Scott Gessler is seeking the GOP nomination.

“There’s a lot of people I don’t interact with on a daily basis, but I have set the tone and created a leadership structure that works,” said Gessler. “He [Hickenlooper] hasn’t set a tone, and he’s not created a leadership structure that works.”

The survey, conducted in November by New York-based management-consulting firm OrgVitality, collected feedback from more than 16,000 executive-branch employees in 20 executive-branch departments, including full-time, part-time and temporary workers.

Hickenlooper praised the overall results of the survey in a statement on the Department of Personnel and Administration (DPA) website, which noted that overall employee satisfaction had improved by three percentage points since 2011.

“The 2013 Employee Engagement Survey reveals the state workforce’s resilience and strong commitment to providing effective, efficient and elegant services for Colorado residents and visitors,” said Hickenlooper. “The feedback that we received from the survey will help us enhance current processes and pinpoint innovative solutions to issues facing Colorado.”

A Hickenlooper spokesman did not return a call asking for comment on the survey, but the Department of Personnel and Administration released figures showing that most of the Governor’s Office employees surveyed don’t report directly to the governor.

Of those 768 employees whose responses were included under “Governor’s Office,” fully 677 work in the Governor’s Office of Information Technology, said DPA spokeswoman Michaela Turner.

Another 31 are employed by the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, while 11 work in the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting.

Thirteen of those surveyed work for the Energy Office, while 36 work for Hickenlooper in his office, said Turner.

The Secretary of State’s Office, which recorded responses from 74 employees, received some of the best feedback in the survey, along with the Department of Local Affairs, the Department of Higher Education, and the Department of Education.

Overall, the report gave the Governor’s Office an efficiency index of 52 percent, an effectiveness index of 67 percent, and an elegance index of 54 percent. All three indexes were below the executive-branch averages, while the Secretary of State’s Office was above average on the three categories.

Only 40 percent of those surveyed from the Governor’s Office agreed that they had “confidence in leaders,” compared with 66 percent in the Secretary of State’s Office.

Under “Leaders give clear picture of direction,” 34 percent of employees in the Governor’s Office responded favorably, as compared to 68 percent of those in the Secretary of State’s Office.

On several indicators, the Governor’s Office received the worst scores of any department. For example, only 54 percent responded favorably to the statement, “Amount of work is reasonable,” the lowest percentage in the survey and below the executive-branch average of 62 percent.

The Governor’s Office also brought up the rear on a key morale indicator. Only 87 percent gave a favorable response to the statement “Work is important,” the lowest of any department. The executive-branch average was 92 percent.

Under “Rules, regulations are useful guides, not barriers,” the Governor’s Office saw 47 percent respond favorably, also the lowest of any department and well below the executive-branch average of 63 percent.

On another morale issue, 66 percent of those in the Governor’s Office responded favorably to the statement, “Proud to say employee of State.” That was the second-lowest response of any department and below the executive-branch average of 72 percent.

Staff turnover may also be an issue for the Governor’s Office. Forty-four percent indicated their agreement with the statement, “Seriously considering leaving in the next 12 months,” the second-worst response of any department.

The response rate for the survey was 44 percent, “up from 24 percent overall participation in 2011,” said the DPA statement.

“The survey results are being delivered to the executive directors of all state agencies,” said the DPA statement. “Agencies will create specific action plans based on employee feedback.”

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

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