Mission Match

Mission Match

Profiles in Improvement

Mission Match


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The Mission Match category measures whether employees identify with the mission of their organization, believe their work is important and appreciated and feel a sense of accomplishment from performing their job.  

An analysis of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® data shows that job satisfaction and commitment can be strengthened when employees feel connected to the goals of an agency and understand their own contribution to the organization’s mission. Indeed, analysis reveals that employees’ connection to mission is a key driver of employee engagement and satisfaction.  

The 2023 data reveals that Mission Match scores are lowest among the youngest groups of employees, suggesting that there is room for improvement when it comes to showing the new generation of civil servants how their work is critical to the performance of the organization and ensuring that new hires become committed to the agency’s goals early on. 

Agency leaders have demonstrated a number of approaches to address these challenges. These include making sure all employees understand the agency’s priorities and the connection between their work and the goals of the organization.  

Communicating Goals and Work 

Employees can identify their roles more easily when the organization’s priorities are clearly and frequently communicated.  

Leaders at Railroad Retirement Board regularly communicate with agency staff on strategic priorities through large, bureau-wide meetings, smaller office discussions, one-on-one conversations with supervisors and training sessions. New leaders within the agency are encouraged to openly communicate with employees. Larger bureaus at the board use retention surveys and conversations to offer employees the opportunity to connect more personally with their supervisors and share ideas that have later been implemented at the executive level. 

During these discussions, senior staff seek to connect the “what” and the “why” by emphasizing not only what projects or changes are being worked on, but why the projects are important and the reasons for any changes. For example, the agency is currently undergoing an IT modernization effort to sustain the organization’s essential services. At the launch of this project, senior leaders discussed the initiative’s critical importance and emphasized that all employees would have a role in its success. Posters summarizing the project were subsequently posted throughout the agency offering employees an easy-to-read point of reference in the office.  

The Department of Homeland Security uses storytelling to ensure employees have an opportunity to connect with the DHS mission and priorities, share updates and successes and showcase good news. Some of these stories are shared through the DHS intranet site, such as highlighting outstanding programs and initiatives that are beneficial to employees and highlighting good news, achievements, priorities and mission updates. 

This information is also shared in the department’s weekly workforce newsletter and is often amplified by DHS’s components through their intranet sites and newsletters. Town halls, leadership engagements and the events surrounding the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey are also an opportunity for the organization to both share information and receive employee input.  

We are a small agency with a very particular mission: to administer the provisions of the Railroad Retirement and Railroad Unemployment Insurance Acts. Our field office employees are especially aware of our mission as they are our frontline contacts with the railroad community.

Senior official from the Railroad Retirement Board

Creating a Strong Base 

The Department of Homeland Security and Railroad Retirement Board emphasized the importance of communicating their mission and strategic goals early in the employees’ time in their organizations. At the Department of Homeland Security, new employee orientations, employee associations, mentorship programs and strong networks of supervisors all play a role in connecting employees to the agency’s mission to safeguard the American people, homeland and values. 

One example is the DHS Professional-Public Service Ethos Initiative which started in 2022. Ethos is a dedicated orientation session where all new employees learn about DHS, share stories and discuss the importance of public service. Employees are challenged to think about what public service means and how their job and work contributes to it. 

The Railroad Retirement Board addresses new employees’ connections to their work though several initiatives. During orientation for new hires, the agency’s Director of Administration participates and welcomes new employees. The agency also ensures new employees are given an opportunity to provide feedback on their orientation and their experience during their first 90 days. New hires are paired with a current employee in a buddy system. This initiative helps new employees feel more comfortable and connected with their coworkers as they gain an understanding of the agency’s mission and their roles in achieving particular goals.  

Management at the RRB’s Field Service also ensures that their new employees are mentored by experienced staff, supported throughout their training and are provided with tasks designed to build confidence, helping them form a strong foundation before moving on to more complex work. In addition, the agency has increased its hiring of current students and recent graduates in an effort to afford the next generation an opportunity to work for the federal government, and in particular, serve the nation’s railroad employees and their families.

Every employee in DHS, regardless of their job title, plays a vital role in the execution of the department’s mission. The work that administrative and other support staff execute daily is directly correlated to the success of those working the front lines or in the field, and vice versa. Communicating about these ongoing efforts has both raised awareness about the efforts themselves and helped to create the connective tissue between the frontline and mission support.”

Spokesperson from the Department of Homeland Security

Building Connections 

Making connections within the agency outside of an employee’s normal working groups helps build a sense of community and the awareness of how the employee’s responsibilities fit in with the wider work of the organization. 

The Railroad Retirement Board has sought to make greater use of cross-bureau working groups to incorporate a wide range of perspectives and experiences when developing solutions for agency priorities.  

The Department of Homeland Security has found success at building connections between mission support and the frontline staff by bringing representatives from headquarters to observe field operations firsthand. The personnel from headquarters are responsible for helping solve immediate issues, guiding funding allocation and assisting in developing solutions to deliver support most effectively to their frontline personnel. 

DHS also has been building on opportunities for employees to connect across the workforce. In addition to employee associations, DHS has an Impactful Dialogues to Drive Performance program. This program allows employees to share their background and experiences with each other and provides a platform for the group to connect to the department’s values and mission. The program’s goal is to build a more inclusive and connected DHS culture which helps retain employees and skills needed to perform and deliver on the DHS mission.