Post-referendum optimism boosts public servants’ satisfaction

A new CIPD study finds the UK’s public sector workers are more satisfied now that at any point since 2012, despite reporting the highest levels of stress and exhaustion.

Post-referendum optimism boosts public servants’ satisfaction
The latest CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook report, which studied the views of 2,091 employees during September on a range of aspects relating to their work, found 63 per cent of employees are satisfied with their jobs (up from +40 to +45 on the Outlook index between spring 2016 and autumn 2016, yet below the +48 recorded in autumn 2015). The figure rose to 66 per cent for public sector workers; the highest level since autumn 2012 and in the survey series.However, public sector employees still report higher levels of pressure and exhaustion at work than any other sector as government austerity measures and budget cuts continue to bite.

Under excessive pressure

Two in five public sector workers (43 per cent) feel they are under excessive pressure at work at least once a week (all employees: 38 per cent), and nearly half (46 per cent) say they come home from work exhausted either always or often (all employees: 33 per cent).Claire McCartney, associate research adviser at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, commented: “Despite this positive outlook from public sector employees, the fact remains that employees in this sector are most likely to suffer with excessive pressure at work and exhaustion.“This shouldn’t be overlooked, as it can create real problems for employers and individuals. Previous research has shown that the public sector also has the highest levels of absence and number of employees coming into work ill by some margin, so it’s crucial that employers address these issues before workers burn out and satisfaction levels take a nose dive."A further key finding suggests employers have much greater scope to support the development of their people, with many employees actively seeking opportunities for personal growth.

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Rotation and secondments in demand

From a mobility perspective, one interesting finding is 92 per cent of employees said they find job rotation, secondment and shadowing useful. However, only 6 per cent have received this in the last 12 months.Similarly, 81 per cent said blended learning (formal and on-the-job training delivered with the support of digital media) was beneficial, but just 4 per cent report receiving it over the last year.The CIPD suggests that learning and development investment therefore may not be targeting the areas of most use to the workforce.

…but employers failing to deliver?

“In today’s world of work, organisations are increasingly expected to think about the two-way employment contract, giving employees opportunity to develop transferable skills that will support them throughout their careers, not just in their current roles,” said Claire McCartney. “This can be a mutually beneficial arrangement – employees can have more autonomy over their career paths, and employers can be more agile to shape their workforce to fit their business needs.”Related to this, and a consistent finding in CIPD research in this area, a third of employees (33 per cent) say they are unlikely to fulfill their career aspirations in their current organisation. Over a quarter (27 per cent) disagree that their organisation provides them with opportunities to learn and grow, and a similar number (24 per cent) are dissatisfied with the opportunity to develop their skills in their job.

Matching companies to people

Dominique Jones, chief people officer at Halogen Software, which supported the CIPD’s latest Outlook report, said: “To compete against rapidly changing market forces, organisations need to hire smarter, develop faster, and build a compelling and meaningful work experience for employees. They must start with a talent strategy aligned to the needs of both the organisation and its people.“The most effective way to support that strategy is to make performance management an essential part of the day-to-work experience, and direct managers have the largest role to play here. They need to be provided with the tools, training and support to become skilled coaches who encourage forward-focused growth and development.“This approach will ensure that whatever context the labour market finds itself in, organisations are ready to attract, engage, and retain skilled people, motivated to deliver results.”

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