World Bank staff listen during a meeting with the World Bank Group president. Photo by: Dominic Chavez / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND 

World Bank senior management has struggled to make employee engagement a consistent and regular process within the walls of the institution. The delay of last year’s employee engagement survey into 2015 underscored that the World Bank’s reform process — wrought with hierarchical changes — is making employee engagement even more of a challenge.

Our coverage at the end of last year on the World Bank’s delayed employee engagement survey spurred a discussion among our readers around how large development institutions such as the World Bank should approach employee engagement.

According to Nathan Horst, an international humanitarian affairs evaluations systems specialist in Washington, D.C., timing is critical when it comes to employee engagement at institutions such as the World Bank.

“My impression is that higher-frequency, lower-effort feedback mechanisms are needed,” wrote Horst, adding, “Especially during a time of change, continuous feedback seems to be a better fit.”

Aruna Pant suggested that during the World Bank’s reform process, senior management should implement two employee engagement questionnaires — one at the beginning of the year, and one at the end.

Pant suggested that the first questionnaire should be designed to gather expectations for the coming year “in terms of work environment, possible changes, possible opportunities.” The second questionnaire should be designed for evaluation purposes to shed light on whether expectations were met.

“If there are changes the management should be ready to receive all kinds of feedback from the employees as there would be both positive as well as negative impacts especially in such a high reputed and high paid organization like the World Bank,” wrote Pant.

Elvira Beracochea expressed concern regarding the delayed survey.

“If the bank cannot even survey its own staff and manage them to effectively achieve development goals, how can it aim at helping others? It is time to accept that the bank's model of work is not effective and is wasting valuable resources,” Beracochea wrote. “The bank, through the performance of its staff, needs to demonstrate accountability and transparency in achieving lasting results. Anything else is not acceptable for an institution of its role in global development. Sad, sad news.”

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The views in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect Devex's editorial views.

About the author

  • Jeff Tyson

    Jeff is a former global development reporter for Devex. Based in Washington, D.C., he covers multilateral affairs, U.S. aid, and international development trends. He has worked with human rights organizations in both Senegal and the U.S., and prior to joining Devex worked as a production assistant at National Public Radio. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and French from the University of Rochester.