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I was the Head of Policy and Public Affairs at UNISON Scotland until my retirement in September 2018. I now work on several policy development projects, so all views are very definitely my own. You can also follow me on Twitter. I hope you find this blog interesting and I would welcome your comments.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

CIPD survey paints a bleak picture of the pressures on the public sector workplace

The CIPD quarterly employee outlook survey offers an insight into employee attitudes in the workplace. The latest report highlights a marked increase in negative perceptions of senior managers, particularly in the public sector. It also reveals that almost a third of employees believe that their current performance management systems are unfair, again particularly in the public sector.

Only a third of employees feel engaged in the business. Job satisfaction levels (+42) are slightly up with employees in the voluntary sector the most satisfied with their jobs (+48). Job satisfaction has decreased in this survey in the public sector (+37), although still up on 2013 levels (+25).

Attitudes towards line managers remain positive, with 64% of employees strongly satisfied or satisfied. However, this survey sees a fall in ratings for senior managers. Confidence in particular has fallen by 5% and trust in senior leaders and perceptions of consultation have fallen by 4% each. Employees in the public sector remain the most negative about their senior managers and there have been some substantial decreases in this survey. The biggest decreases are in relation to senior managers treating employees with respect (down 12%), trust in senior leaders (decrease of 11%).

More employees reported that they believe their organisation’s performance management process is fair (39%) rather than unfair (30%), but these are very low figures demonstrating little confidence in these systems anywhere. Employees in the public sector were even more likely to believe their performance management process is unfair (33%).

The proportion of employees reporting excessive pressure at work every day or once or twice a week in spring 2014 remains high at 41%. Employees’ satisfaction with their work–life balance has remained at the relatively high level of 58% in this survey. However, it is women (63%) who are significantly more likely than men (52%) to enjoy a better work–life balance. The public sector is now the least satisfied sector.

Spring 2014 sees a slight drop in the overall number of employees saying it is very likely or likely that they could lose their job as a result of the current economic context. Employees’ fears over losing their jobs are highest in the public sector (23%) and lowest in the private sector (13%). There is increasing concern in the voluntary sector over job losses. These numbers show that workers are not convinced by rhetoric around the economic ‘recovery’ and does not bode well for economic confidence in the longer term.

Overall this survey shows a pretty depressing picture of the UK workforce. The fact that the public sector comes off worse in almost every section is a reflection of the constant UK government attacks on workers in the sector.

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