A new report from the Partnership for Public Service examined the best places for human resources, information technology and contract professionals to work in the federal government.

But what it found was that agencies need to embrace more creativity and innovation among employees.

The report—co-authored with Deloitte—looked at data from the Office of Personnel Management's Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey data and the Partnership's broader The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings, finding that the Social Security Administration and the Department of State lead other agencies in employee satisfaction.

Related: Read the report

The Department of State ranked ahead of other large agencies when it came to job satisfaction among HR specialists with a score of 71.6. NASA was second with 70.5.

The Social Security Administration was the best place to work for both IT and contract specialists, followed in both categories by NASA and the Department of Justice.

The report outlined three factors that help bolster employee engagement in the HR, IT and contract specialist fields:

  • Serving as an adviser, strategic partner and team member
  • Having a culture of creativity and innovation
  • Investing in learning opportunities to connect employees to the mission

But while employees reported high scores when it came to the desire to achieve mission goals, the totals dropped when employees were asked about whether there was creativity or collaboration in their agencies.

The report noted that the lack of engagement could be seen as an industry problem, with participants telling the report's authors that they often felt disconnected from the agency's mission goals.

"For example, if an HR employee worked closely with hiring and program managers, they could better understand the job requirements and write a posting that draws in highly qualified applicants who will meet the needs of the specific position," the report said.

"Quite often, however, this does not occur. One HR employee said during our workshop that she and her colleagues are 'seen as an afterthought,' not full participants in the hiring process, and that it works better when they are included from the beginning."

The report recommended that agencies rethink their team approaches to consider HR, IT and contract specialists more in the design of mission goals rather than strictly for support services.

Another approach advocated in the report is the incentivizing of more innovative and risk-based solutions for agencies. Researchers found that only 34.5 percent of employees government-wide felt like creativity and innovation were rewarded.

To change that, the report recommended cultural shifts to embrace creativity, including the use of innovation labs.

Ultimately, the report's authors say that agency leaders would be better served to foster more communication with their HR, IT and contract specialist and incorporate their skills in the mission process.

"To effectively foster an environment where they feel connected and engaged, agency leaders need to ensure these employees' talents are used well, that they are provided with the opportunity and freedom to be creative and that they have access to learning opportunities that can help them improve their skills and develop a better understanding of the work of the programs they enable and support."

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