'Ain't No Satisfaction' for Public Sector Workers

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Public sector workers score lowest for overall employee satisfaction in a new survey which reveals key differences in the sectors.

According to employee research specialists ORC International, worker satisfaction in the UK remains steady at 68 per cent but organisational pride in local and central government is 8 per cent and 7 per cent below the UK norm. Workers in the housing association are least loyal – 13 per cent below UK norm and, on average, move on to another job after just 12 months.

Despite this, job security is one area where employees feel slightly more positive, with those working in housing associations rating job security +4 above average, those in local government +1 and those in central government only slightly below the norm (-2 percentage points).

In contrast, employees in the retail sector are the most satisfied with a score of +5 percentage points above average, citing autonomy, teamwork and customer interaction as the positive aspects of their job.

"Pride is closely related to the employee's belief in the end product or service that the organisation is supplying – not surprisingly, worthy causes and well known brands tend to engender more pride than the delivery of public services," said Kate Pritchard, head of employee research at ORC International.

"This is worrying for government organisations in particular, as another of ORC’s research projects has shown that employee engagement in local government does directly correlate with customer satisfaction with services."

Training is also perceived less positively by public sector employees; those in local government and central government are least satisfied with the training they receive to do their job. The -9 percentage point score given by central government employees is in stark contrast to +8 in the retail sector.

Pay is the only area where the public sector outperforms the private sector, with far more positivity from employees when considering their earnings against their duties and responsibilities. Charities/not for profit lead the way, scoring +11 percentage points above the national average.

Pritchard added: "Public sector industries need to learn from the current successes being seen in the private sector. Prioritising training and using a management style that recognises achievement are key learnings for public sector employers. Ensuring employee engagement is monitored via employee research allows organisations to measure, understand and improve conditions for staff."

ORC International's Putting it in Perspective Report 2007 report compares data collected from 300 employee surveys representing the views and opinions of over 1.5 million employees in the UK.

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