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Public Servants Unhappy but Loyal

by Staff Writers •
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A recent survey has found that Government employees have mixed feelings about their jobs. They are the most likely to hate their managers, hate their colleagues or be bored at work, yet they are the most likely to say they intend to stay working where they are for at least the next decade.

The annual survey by Seek Ltd Satisfaction and Motivation, found that 28% of Government employees are not happy with the quality of overall management where they work, 17% hate their boss and 7% hate the people they work with. Compared with other industry sectors, government employees are the most likely to report having left their last job due to poor management (55%), with feeling unappreciated at work (56%) and boredom (36%) also driving staff churn.

It appears that employment benefits such as leave and flexible work arrangements are a redeeming feature of government employment with 20% of employees saying they love this aspect of their job.

The CPSU (the union representing most Federal public servants) suggests that with the survey showing that 50% of public servants feel unappreciated, the union fears the Rudd Government's razor gang may spark an exodus of experience and talent from a public service already struggling to attract staff. The CPSU suggests that the impact of proposed staff cuts could result in a loss of talent from the Australian Public Service (APS).

"The lesson learnt by the Howard Government, which instituted massive public sector job cuts when it came to office, is that it takes years to rebuild experience and corporate knowledge once lost," according to CPSU National Secretary Stephen Jones.

The Seek report is in contrast with some findings in the Public Service Commissioner’s view on the public service outlined in the State of the Service Report for 2006-07. This report (delivered in January 2008), provides detailed information about the Australian Public Service (APS). It found a high level of pride in working in the APS, with 79% of employees agreeing they were proud to work for the APS.

Intermedium advises clients seeking to sell into government that they should clearly understand what drives public servants. While the Seek survey shows some dissatisfaction amongst public servants, in many cases, public servants express a commitment to public service (rather than to strictly commercial rewards). This may be one of the factors contributing to loyalty and long service.

The negative responses from the Seek survey may be due to the survey sample. The survey seems to be based on responses from people registered with Seek, indicating that they are at least “passively” seeking alternative work. Therefore they may not be representative of all public servants.

Detailed information about the Federal Government recruitment and labour hire market is available in Intermedium’s Labour Hire Report. The report for the period January-March 2008 is now available. Click here for more information.

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