Positive experiences critical to trust and transforming government.
November 20, 2023
By Dustin Brown, Barbara C. Morton, Dr. Maureen Marks
Deputy Assistant Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget; Deputy Chief Veterans Experience Officer; Executive Director at the VHA National Center for Organizational Development
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Numerous studies across different industries show the importance of the relationship between customer experience and employee engagement.
The Federal government is no exception. Data analyzed for the first time by VA’s National Center for Organization Development shows a promising relationship between improving employee engagement and overall customer experience.
The public’s every interaction with a federal agency is an opportunity for the government to deliver an excellent customer experience (CX), one the public expects and deserves. These positive experiences are critical to furthering trust and transforming our government.
The President’s Management Agenda established Strengthening and Empowering the Federal Workforce to improve CX with government services as the first two priorities.
VA analyzed data collected from its workforce and the Veterans it serves to better understand this relationship.
VA defines CX as “The product of interactions between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. VA measures these interactions through Ease, Effectiveness, and Emotion, all of which impact the overall trust the customer has in the organization.”
VA serves approximately nine million Veterans, families, caregivers and survivors at medical centers, benefits offices and cemeteries across the nation and abroad. To fulfill its mission, VA employs over 400,000 people, many of whom interact directly with Veterans and their supporters, and many who provide support services across VA facilities.
As the largest integrated health care network in the nation serving over six million unique patients annually, VA has long held that each employee interaction with a patient is an opportunity to own each moment to directly improve that Veteran’s experience. VA has completed a small quantitative study using health care data that demonstrates a potential relationship between employee engagement and patient satisfaction.
This study assessed the existence of a positive relationship between employee engagement at VA health care facilities and patient experience.
Using results from its patient satisfaction surveys, as well as from the VA All Employee Survey, VA worked to better understand the connection between employees’ engagement and the customer’s experience as patients at VA.
VA asked employees to rate their agreement with statements like, “I recommend my organization as a good place to work” and “This organization really inspires the very best in me in the way of job performance.” VA compared these results to CX data.
CX data came from surveys that asked Veteran patients for their reactions to statements such as “My provider listened carefully to me” and “My provider explained things in a way that I could understand.” After examining this data from 141 VA health care facilities throughout the U.S., VA discovered a potential relationship between employee engagement and patient satisfaction.
Within inpatient mental health care services, evidence showed that an increase in the Employee Engagement Index by 10% was associated with the overall hospital ratings increasing by an average of 4%. Additionally, within outpatient services, an increase in EEI by 10% was found to be associated with an average of a 3% increase in patient trust.
For both inpatients and outpatient centers, there is a relationship between employee engagement and patient satisfaction. For example, where employees reported that they felt more engaged with VA, patients tended to report that their VA health care provider listened carefully to their needs.
Patients were also more likely to report that they felt a higher degree of trust in their VA facility to meet their health care needs.
This study is promising. As agencies work hard to align with President Biden’s executive order on CX, they can explore employee engagement as an investment in both employees and those they serve.
This study also suggests that agencies have two mechanisms to increase public trust in government: First, through direct CX process improvements and service recovery, and second through creating positive employee experiences, thereby improving employee engagement.
Please read the full version of this story at Performance.gov.
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