TDEC officials survey state employees about morale; toss results in trash

TDEC officials survey state employees about morale; toss results in trash

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation officials used taxpayer-funded equipment to ask employees whether they’re happy at work, but the department refuses to publicize some of those results.

TDEC’s reasoning? The results don’t matter, and they would trash them anyhow.

But department officials bragged about results from the multiple-choice portion of the survey, saying workers were happier and more engaged.

TDEC officials made those results public.

Eric Ward (photo courtesy of LinkedIn)

Eric Ward (photo courtesy of LinkedIn)

The final question on the survey was open-ended, asking TDEC employees to offer open and honest feedback.

TDEC officials, when first asked, failed to provide those responses. Tennessee Watchdog submitted an open-records request for the responses, but TDEC officials said they weren’t available.

“We do not have the information you’ve requested. After compiling and reviewing the comments, they were disposed of,” TDEC spokesman Eric Ward said.

Department officials, Ward said, decided those comments had no value.

Per state law, TDEC officials can toss such records after getting permission from the Tennessee Public Records Commission.

Ward did not say why those answers no longer had value to TDEC officials or how much the survey cost taxpayers.

“We sent the survey via software we already owned so no funds were used. We’ll have no further comment on this matter,” Ward said.

As reported, TDEC officials conducted a similar survey in 2014 that got responses from 800 of TDEC’s then-2,500 employees.

TDEC spokeswoman Kelly Brockman said more TDEC employees participated in the 2016 survey than took part in a survey two years before, but she did not say how many.

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Tennessee Watchdog received anonymous information in 2014 suggesting TDEC management received lousy feedback on that year’s survey.

Regardless of the results, feedback from management to employees is communicated openly.

As reported that year, TDEC’s then-Water Quality deputy director under the Division of Water Resources criticized employees for “non-productive, non-work related activities during the work hours.”

Water Resources Division Director Sandra K. Dudley, the Tennessee official most responsible for maintaining the quality of the state’s water and public works systems, in an email reminded her employees to use toilets properly.

Dudley’s email warned workers about flushing shoes at the department’s main offices in downtown Nashville, at the Tennessee Tower.

Dudley also advised against flushing ink pens and paper clips.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org 

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  • Sherrie Orange

    The results must not have lined up with what they wanted to tell the public. So, the survey was trashed.

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