Public sector job satisfaction hits four-year high

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Job satisfaction in the public sector is at its highest level in four years and wider post-referendum optimism is evident among UK employees, according to a new survey by CIPD and Halogen.

The report finds post-referendum optimism among UK employees, but more work needed on development and career progression and addresses the need that there is still ample room for improvement in employee development and career progression which employers must address quickly so as not to lose valuable talent.

The survey of more than 2,000 employees found that 63 per cent of employees are satisfied with their jobs, rising to two-thirds in the public sector, the highest level for that sector since autumn 2012.

However, public sector employees still report higher levels of pressure and exhaustion at work than any other sector. Two in five public sector workers say 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).

The report found evidence of post-referendum optimism among employees in all sectors.

More than half of employees believe it is unlikely they will lose their current main job, with one in ten (12 per cent) saying they think it is likely. The majority of employees believe the Brexit decision will make little or no difference to organisational costs, workforce training and skill development and investment in equipment and technology.

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.

“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. 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.“But in order to hold up their end of the deal, employers need to position line managers to support employees’ career progression. This should include having regular development conversations with employees to help them take the steps needed to develop and fulfil their potential. They also need to choose training and development that is right for their staff, not just the most economical. To do this, they must ensure that they are listening to what their employees need in order to make sure training and development is relevant and effective enough to plug skills gaps, as well as improve employees’ ability to do their jobs well.”

The report also reveals that more than a third of employees believe their organisation supports employees with mental health problems either very or fairly well, and a quarter believe they do so either not very or not at all well. More employees were either not very or not at all confident (47 per cent) rather than confident (43 per cent) to disclose unmanageable sTress or mental health problems to their employer or manager.

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