What is Workforce Engagement? Here's The Answer
Friday, November 05, 2010

NATCA WE Team Explains the Program, and the Upcoming Survey, Which Starts Dec. 1

What is Workforce Engagement (WE)?
WE is an ATO program aligned with the larger effort to make the FAA workplace culture more collaborative, engaged, and just. It is one of a handful of new programs that support these goals.

Is NATCA supporting this effort? Yes, NATCA is fully supporting Workforce Engagement and has been heavily involved in the program from the earliest steps. PASS is also fully on board and involved.

Another survey! You’re kidding, right? The first important step of WE is a very short survey, conducted and analyzed by Gallup Corporation, which will establish a “baseline assessment” report for each workgroup. High participation in the Gallup survey will make sure each group starts with its own meaningful data. WE does not end with the survey. Workforce Engagement is the collaborative effort built upon after the results come out. It’s only 15 questions and takes about eight minutes!

Haven’t we tried this kind of thing before? Why would this work any better? There are several important ways that WE is very different from other programs that tried to make the FAA a better place to work:

·       The theory, data, science, and track record on Employee Engagement are proven by Gallup Corporation over decades. Both in private corporations and in public organizations, Gallup has improved the work lives of hundreds of thousands of employees. Hiring real experts in their field and not rigging their methods to try and fit FAA hunches of what works is a big difference.

·       The survey reaches out to ALL ATO employees; it’s not a small, random slice that can be easily dismissed as “just a grumpy minority.” Confronting what their employees really think will be good for the FAA, but a big difference from what we’ve tried before with feedback.

·       The results are reported down to the team level in about eight weeks, and specific to the team’s inputs. While there will be analysis provided by Gallup on the whole ATO and big groups within it, each workgroup will be examining and strengthening their own situation instead of getting a plan based on somebody else’s issues.

·       The contract with Gallup includes training, advice, and coaching to help translate the periodic surveys into a real effort to improve employee engagement. Instead of being mailed an action plan from somebody in Washington, D.C., that you’ll never meet, your facility’s leaders and employees will get support in developing your own plan for improving and strengthening engagement. That’s different, too!

·       There’s no hidden agenda. The survey results are transparent, the local responses are transparent, the issues are framed to be actionable, and Gallup’s theory and method is published widely and readily available on the web. The goals are obvious and can’t just be redefined to a new, convenient standard that disguises employee’s concerns.

·       And most important to its success, the ATO partnered with NATCA, PASS, the other FAA unions, and Gallup from the very earliest stages. The decision to even head down this Workforce Engagement path actually represented the will of ALL the represented workforce, instead of being purely the game plan of the Agency’s Directors. It’s been several years since we tried anything like that.

So now what happens? The Gallup Survey will be available online beginning Dec. 1 for three weeks. Watch for instructions of how to get your unique enrollment code. Please take a few minutes to answer the 15 questions! Changing a poor workplace culture to something more engaging, fairer, and more personally rewarding isn’t easy and it takes time. But it’ll never happen if we don’t even start. And when your facility starts digging into its own results next spring, pay attention and chime in. We all know where we’ve been, and some of us have memories that go back a long way with plenty of ugly stories to tell. How often do the leaders of the FAA, NATCA, PASS, etc all agree on the same set of programs to improve the Agency? We must seize this opportunity to modernize the culture of the FAA’s workplace, and not only its equipment and technical procedures. Congress, the White House, the aviation community, and the American public will expect us to try, and they should.

The NATCA WE Team:  Russ Miller – russmiller42@hotmail.com, Jerry Johnston – phx@natca.net, Matt Bonidie – mrbonidie@peoplepc.com, Dub Pearman - wpearman@natca.net, Elena Nash - leinpr@gmail.com, Trisha Pesiri - tapesiri@hotmail.com, Steve Abraham - sjahome@optonline.net, Lisa Cyr - lisa.cyr@natca.net, Scott Robillard -  robillard.scott@gmail.com, James Chipman – james.chipman@natca.net, Troy Decker - a1atcs@gmail.com, Mark Zameda - mzameda@natca.net, Ron Carpenter - zme.pres@natca.net