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government data graphic

McChrystal Group data indicates that employees in the government sector don’t feel like their organizations care about them and their well-being. Leaders can build trust—which leads to well-being—among their teams with a clearly communicated, shared vision of success.


A dwindling number of employees report feeling that their organization cares about their well-being. In an era of unprecedented turnover marked by high rates of burnout and turnover, leaders must look to boost feelings of well-being and engagement on their teams or be left behind.

Of course, all industries and sectors do not experience this in the same way. In fact, out of all sectors, employees in government report the lowest scores when it comes to feelings of well-being.

Government employees are 28% less likely than employees in other industries to agree that their organization cares about its employees and their well-being.

While there is a myriad of resources and think pieces detailing why employee well-being is important, less often are the underpinnings explored and broken down by sector.

Drawn from field interviews and survey responses from thousands of workers from more than a hundred organizations across several industries, McChrystal Group’s database collected over the last decade presents a framework to underscore actionable insights, allowing leaders to engage their teams with intention and precision.

28% Less Likely

Government employees are 28% less likely than employees in other industries to agree that their organization cares about its employees and their well-being.

Graph of government vs. non-government employees' trust in their organization

The findings are key for organizations to take heed of since employees who strongly agree that their employer cares about their overall well-being when compared to those who don’t are 69% less likely to actively search for a new job, and roughly five times more likely to strongly advocate for their company as a place to work and to strongly agree they trust the leadership of their organization,  according to Gallup.

Research from Eagle Hill Consulting reveals that 65% of government employees feel burnt out at work, significantly higher than the 44% of workers in the private sector who indicate they feel burnt out. However,  according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the government sector has less turnover in the United States than almost all other sectors.

The fact that government employees tend to burn out and stay, rather than experience burnout and leave—as private sector employees often do—carries a heavy cost in lost productivity, as  Gallup found that employees who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged cost the world $7.8 trillion in lost productivity.

How We’ve Worked with Clients to Address These Challenges

The opposite of employee engagement is burnout, and McChrystal Group has worked with several clients to address their employee burnout to foster true engagement.

Understanding the drivers behind employee burnout is key to addressing the root of the problem, because once an employee is burned out, there is no quick fix. Simply put, we often see that organizations are ignoring early warning signs of employee burnout and addressing the issue too late by focusing on the wrong problems at the outset.

McChrystal Group worked with an organization that was growing to meet the needs of its constituents, yet some teams were struggling with low employee engagement due to burnout, leading to fears of turnover.

Much of our work focused on team leaders to increase overall organizational engagement. Repeatable processes through coaching were created so leaders were empowered to have regular discussions with peers, superiors and direct reports to provide an alternative perspective and a lens on a leader’s actions, leading to increased self-awareness, which will in turn fostered greater engagement.

By utilizing data from the engagement assessment, we were able to identify pressure points that posed threats to the organization’s long-term goals. Armed with insights to make data-driven decisions regarding its workforce, the organization was able to:

  • Proactively identify disengaged teams and the underlying reasons driving disengagement
  • Develop a targeted approach to addressing teams with disengaged employees
  • Implement regular cadence of small group discussions with leaders to tackle their individual team-level engagement challenges in a way that was complementary to the larger organizational solutions
  • Equip leaders with resources and support to empower them to make changes and act on their team data to sustain engagement from the bottom up


scatter plot graph showing increased network connections


In the first network map on the left before our work with the organization, their workforce was disconnected, with dozens of disengaged employees branched off from the main cluster, a classic sign of a large, disengaged workforce that isn’t being leveraged to its full potential.


The engagement assessment provided a holistic view of the organization’s workforce so it could fully leverage the impact of its greatest resource. By deepening the leadership’s understanding of the organization overall, they were able to further focus on what was working, resolve issues leading to employee burnout and retention, and stay true to its mission-driven culture.

Solving its pressing employee engagement dilemma was key to the organization’s ability to execute on its vision and transform its workforce into a highly engaged, connected, and motivated set of teams.


This article is part of a series of industry insights utilizing McChrystal Group’s proprietary data to highlight industry-specific insights and strategies leaders can adopt to address them.

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