Headlines: December 10th, 2004

People working in the public sector are generally more satisfied, committed and motivated than their opposite numbers in the private sector, according to a new survey of employee attitudes from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.The study shows that motivation in public sector staff has been increasing steadily and that employees are now 8 per cent more motivated than those working in private businesses, which may be the result of better funding of public services and better line management.

The study also found that people who find work exciting are more likely to be in the public sector and that public sector workers also reported slightly higher levels of loyalty to customers and clients than to their organisation or supervisor. The NHS scores particularly high on offering flexible work practices and both the health service and local government report high levels of supervisory leadership. There has been a big rise in the last two years in the proportion of public sector respondents who say that promises about fair treatment by their immediate supervisors have been kept.

There is more concern in central government where there are particularly low levels of trust and satisfaction. Central government staff are less likely to say they have a high quality workplace. Motivation in central government, though, is still higher than in the private sector.

Mike Emmott, CIPD Employee Relations adviser, said the overall turnaround in the picture painted by public sector staff might be a reflection of the fact more funding was going into public services and better line management. “A good line manager can help motivate staff, reduce absence, improve productivity and retain staff. It makes good business sense to ensure line managers are trained to motivate, communicate and engage with employees,” he said. Central government, he added, still needed to work with their line managers to ensure they have the relevant training to motivate staff.