Supporting the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Information and Technology during Virtual Workforce Transition

Case Study - Change Readiness and Management - Digital and Business Transformation - Findings Analysis and Insights - Human Experience - Performance Optimization - Program and Project Management - Program Evaluation and Measurement - Research and Evaluation - Research Design and Execution - Stakeholder Engagement - Training and Technical Assistance

Supporting the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Information and Technology during Virtual Workforce Transition

Posted on 12.17.22

Optimizing organizational development and modernization

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, VA’s workforce primarily worked onsite at many VA locations nationwide. Suddenly, VA had to switch to a virtual environment. This switch posed significant operational challenges for OIT, which was responsible for the successful transition.

VA leadership values and relies on employee engagement to provide the best care for our nation’s Veterans. During this challenging transition period, some employees indicated they wanted more significant leadership support to help with the daily challenges of assisting VA customers, clients, and stakeholders in a technical capacity.

VA needed to better understand employees’ technical and work engagement needs and provide data-driven solutions. VA joined with Aptive to spearhead the change management efforts that would help VA’s OIT workforce become highly effective within a virtual work environment.


Data capturing the employee experience translated into change management recommendations. Aptive’s team of professionals contributed subject matter expertise in coaching and consultation, organizational psychology, organizational change management and communications. With these strengths and a thorough understanding of VA operations, Aptive effectively developed a methodology to assess and address employee challenges.

Staff surveys

An employee experience survey was the first step in determining OIT’s needs. Aptive conducted virtual workshops and focus groups across the workforce to gather qualitative information regarding customer satisfaction with OIT-provided services. Survey data helped inform OIT’s redesigned help desk portal and phone tree.

Aptive also developed assessments to identify workload and staffing problems. These assessments generated data on individual workloads, work-life balance and team dynamics. Additional focus group sessions helped identify how employees felt about their agency.

Data-informed recommendations

After understanding employee engagement and technical challenges, Aptive used the Prosci ADKAR model for change management. The ADKAR, or Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement model, defines the outcomes individuals need for organizational change to occur. Data from employee surveys informed linear, sequential changes to support VA’s long-term vision.

Aptive created an OIT roadmap that addressed what employees reported as the most significant pain points. Our recommendations included remediation efforts for identified problem areas and steps to improve the employee experience, productivity and efficiency. For example, one product focused on the holistic experience of employees from the time they are hired to when they retire or leave their position, informed by data gathered from new hires and employees nearing retirement.

In addition to using hard data to provide guidance, Aptive team members coached OIT staff in project management principles and vocational expertise that require more soft people skills, ensuring staff would successfully provide technology and customer service.


Greater engagement and connectivity of employees with each other, with leadership and with the mission

Employee surveys generated a high response rate from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent survey had a 72% response rate. Substantial employee input contributed to change management implementation suggestions that accurately captured the employee experience. Additionally, directly formulating improvements based on employee feedback ensures employees feel that their voice, work and opinions matter to VA’s mission.

Even while VA underwent internal leadership changes during the project, VA effectively distributed and used Aptive materials and resources to promote workplace efficiency. These efforts help employees harness their strengths daily to effectively contribute to VA’s mission.

With accurate data to point them in the right direction, VA leaders can better steer the direction of their organization. Increased communication at every level contributes to greater employee satisfaction and buy-in. OIT’s intranet now hosts resources such as monthly articles, news blasts and biweekly employee engagement connection calls. In addition, leaders hold fireside chats to connect with all levels of OIT employees.

VA continuously shows an upward trend in employee engagement and workplace morale, invaluable when undergoing a major workforce transition to a virtual environment and when implementing future workplace changes. Aptive’s team of professionals will continue its support of effective change management and employee engagement practices to best equip the organization’s workforce for future success.