Happiness and Productivity Go Hand-in-Hand

March 14, 2012

When Carol Waller Pope was designated chairwoman of the Federal Labor Relations Authority in 2009, the independent agency was struggling not only with accomplishing its mission but also with keeping its employees happy. That year, FLRA scored lowest among small agencies in employee satisfaction on a nonprofit's annual rankings.

Just one year later, the agency had achieved a dramatic turnaround. FLRA boasted a record-breaking 250 percent jump in its employee satisfaction score on the Partnership for Public Service's 2010 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey. The agency's score continued to climb in 2011, and it is now ranked seventh in employee satisfaction among 35 small agencies.

Pope, the first FLRA career employee to serve as chairwoman, said Monday during the Federal Managers Association's annual National Convention and Management Training Seminar that it's important to realize that employee happiness and mission accomplishment are interrelated. After taking the lead at the agency, Pope focused dually on tackling the backlogs that plagued FLRA's adjudication of labor disputes and on making a concerted effort to "develop, manage and utilize the agency's human capital resources." Previously, she said, "we weren't actively managing human capital, and employees felt it." 

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