Sounding off on World Bank employee engagement survey

By Jeff Tyson 16 July 2015

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. In the face of employee discontent, what would you do if you were in Jim Kim’s position? Photo by: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim is faced with responding to the latest World Bank employee engagement survey that highlighted strong discontent with senior management.

Just 38 percent of survey participants said the World Bank Group’s senior management “clearly communicates” the institution's “strategic priorities.” One-third indicated they have “a clear understanding of the direction in which [senior management] is leading [the World Bank Group]. Only 26 percent believed senior management “creates a culture of openness and trust.” And 34 percent were confident “the [World Bank Group] will take action on the engagement survey.”

What would you do if you were Jim Kim?

That’s a question we asked sources inside and outside the global development community and our report solicited a variety of comments from readers weighing in on what they think the World Bank president should do next.

Here’s what readers had to say.

Kim should not make any more organizational changes to the institution, according to NewssGuide, but should “overhaul senior management and get some people around him who understand development rather than just politics and institutional machinations.”

NewsGuide added that “Jim Kim may have been listening to too many management consultants thinking that reformulating the org chart and generating a few new slogans constitutes something innovative.”

The World Bank president didn’t understand “what role the bank should play among all the development partners, private and public,” and he didn’t have a vision for the institution, NewsGuide added.

DaQueen DN suggested Kim “tackle the root causes of the staff engagement survey and address them one by one.”

A reader identified as gyffes wrote that “Kim should do as he did at Dartmouth once he'd trashed the place in his short and highly lamented tenure: flee.”

Other readers pointed out that a client’s perspective can help Kim decide how to move forward.

“Other than the proponents and those anxious of ‘changes’ in service-oriented mandates — where do clients/partners/recipients [and] stakeholders, etc. feature in all these?” wrote lily.

“In this business you just have to let your clients decide if you have/had a good thing going or not. Let them be the judge,” wrote Vaughn Graham.

A reader called Andrew wrote that Kim should check in with his clients at the country level “that have received the fatal energy policy his staff promotes worldwide.”

The reader called lily contributed a “layman” perspective on the discussion, writing that organizational reforms “are generally perceived by the individual/group foremost in terms of effects upon themselves (employment, security of tenure, monetary/other pecuniary benefits, status/prestige, power etc.)”

The reader went on to say that it’s natural for human beings to be fearful of changes “that affect the status quo if not their ‘comfort zone.’”

Kim should consider the needs of both staff and clients to “ensure everyone at the table [and] under the umbrella are in sync,” lily suggested.

Finally, a reader named suzi chimed in with her view that reforms at the bank have had a negative effect on women at the institution and that “the bank needs to clean up its act in gender.”

“I myself was pregnant when the reforms were announced, and after many many years of high performance rankings was made to feel there was no place for me after I had my baby. I checked in with everyone else that had a baby from my sector/unit through the reform process — all gone (so it probably didn't pickup through the staff survey). On my sampling, which was quite small but nonetheless significant, the rate of pregnant/maternity leave/recent mothers pushed out was 100 percent,” suzi wrote.

The World Bank, suzi suggested, “has a lot to offer … both internally and externally” when it comes to gender, “but it needs to be a lot fairer to its women employees.”

How do you think the World Bank president should respond to the latest staff survey? Keep the conversation going by leaving a comment below.

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About the author

Jeff tyson 400x400  1
Jeff Tyson@jtyson21

Jeff is a global development reporter for Devex. Based in Washington, DC, he covers multilateral affairs, U.S. aid and international development trends. He has worked with human rights organizations in both Senegal and the United States, 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.


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