Empowering Employees through Leadership and Commitment
January 12, 2017
In 2013, the “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” rankings from the Partnership for Public Service placed the Economic Development Administration (EDA) last in employee satisfaction. At the time, sequestration, challenges with technology, and leadership changes were having a big impact on morale.
A few months later, in May of 2014, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Jay Williams as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. From day one, Assistant Secretary Williams made it a top priority to improve agency morale. After traveling to each of EDA’s six regional office and speaking to employees, he was impressed by the experience, knowledge and passion of EDA career staff and wanted to find a way to thank them and recognize their efforts.
Many EDA employees expressed interest in professional development opportunities, better communication across the agency, and a way to show appreciation to staff. Assistant Secretary Williams listened and took specific actions to meet these needs. By working with leadership he increased the number of professional development opportunities, improved EDA’s internal communication program and established a robust employee reward and recognition system. He also sent out monthly emails to staff to recognize them for their significant work in helping to create economic opportunity and jobs across the nation. Employees were also recognized for their service and exceptional work at quarterly All-Hands meetings.
Since then, morale has improved across EDA. The actions Assistant Secretary Williams took may in part be why the Economic Development Administration jumped more than 100 spots in the “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” rankings since 2015. His steadfast leadership and commitment to empowering employees over the past two years exemplifies operational excellence and has left the agency’s employee’s more satisfied than before he arrived.