Headlines: February 27th, 2002

Public service staff are essential to the continued improvement of public services, according to a Public Services Productivity Panel (PSPP) report published by the Treasury.The report was prepared for the PSPP by Sir Andrew Foster, Controller at the Audit Commission, Greg Parston from the Office for Public Management and John Smith, Finance Director at the BBC.

Amid much talk of the importance of public sector workers and praise of their commitment, this detailed report adds weight to the idea that it is staff motivation and commitment which will be central to whether this Government delivers on the key promise of improved public services.

The report highlights a number of effective techniques and practices that management and staff have used to raise levels of motivation within their own organisations.

It also urges that organisations regularly assess the motivation of their staff and the skills of their managers and act on both as a minimum requirement to achieve a step change in the quality of public service delivery.

Research for the report found no significant differences between what motivates staff in the public and private sectors, and that so-called ‘soft’ management issues, such as good line management, setting clearobjectives and inviting and recognizing staff contributions to success, are at least as important – if not more so – than pay and benefits.

It also found that motivated employees do not appear by chance, but that active ‘interventionist’ personnel polices are required to develop and reward them.

Organisations involved in the research to feed the report were: Clatterbridge NHS Trust; The Employment Service; Microsoft UK; Ministry of Defence Policy Unit; Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council; Suffolk County Council; Tesco; West Middlesex Hospital NHS Trust .

‘Making A Difference – Motivating People To Improve Performance’ in available online at www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/pspp