Badenoch & clark - Public Sector Cuts | Rebranding the state


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A workplace study into morale levels in the public sector.

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Badenoch & clark - Public Sector Cuts | Rebranding the state

  1. 1. Page 1 0f 9Re-branding the state:the public sectorbrand in an age of cuts,strikes and reformsKey findings / July
  2. 2. Re-branding the state: the public sector brand in an age of cuts, strikes and reforms / Key findings / July 2011 Page 2 0f 9Re-branding the state: the publicsector brand in an age of cuts,strikes and reformsKey findings Foreword For public sector workers, the last few months have been ‘listening exercises’; it is now important to ensure that the fragile coloured by cuts and crises, strikes and reforms. The public beginnings of a rejuvenation of the sector are not quashed. sector has gone through an unprecedented period of change – a vast upheaval, which has led to catastrophically low morale, Leaders must now reassert the public sector brand more than widespread uncertainty about the future of the sector and jobs, ever before. Workers remain loyal to the ideals traditionally a culture beset by lack of trust and poor communication. The offered by the sector – working for the greater good, making recent strikes over pension reform are the latest manifestation a positive difference to society at large, ensuring the proper of unrest within the sector as a whole, as workers feel the functioning of UK plc – and this must be accentuated over brunt of Osborne’s sharp cuts, intended to redesign Britain’s the coming months. Come October, a year on from Osborne’s economic map. And while highly held benefits packages – initial Comprehensive Spending Review, it will be interesting for many the critical centrepiece of a public sector career and important to observe how, if at all, the public sector – come under increasing public scrutiny, it appears that the has repositioned itself, internally and externally. The need public sector employer brand may well be at as low a point to attract and retain talent is as great an imperative as ever; as ever. The Prime Minister’s announcement this week of the the public sector must now reflect, consolidate and move Open Services White Paper, a massive overhaul of virtually on. They must familiarise themselves with their adjusted every area of the public sector, will be considered by many working conditions and make full use of their streamlined to be but the latest nail in brand public sector’s coffin. workforce’s strengths in the best possible way. The research that we have carried out over recent months has This report analyses some of the most critical questions faced unilaterally demonstrated a crisis in morale, with the majority by the public sector, and our programme of ongoing research of public sector workers, at all levels, reporting poor to average into the most contemporary and engaging employment issues morale. Such a crisis is perhaps highlighted by the fact that in is a reflection of a commitment to our customers. We believe our most recent survey of workers, morale seems not to have that a clear understanding of the current issues faced by the improved; three quarters (73.3%) rated morale average to poor. public sector is central to our pledge to add demonstrable and measurable value to your entire business model. Yet nonetheless, as this report will demonstrate, there are perhaps the first inklings of positive change to be salvaged from the damage inflicted upon the public sector over the last year. The sector has undergone an important cultural shift. And with morale low, further cuts looming, and the future of the benefits packages uncertain, managers must continue to reassess internal communications strategies. The need for careful, grassroots change management is absolute. The Nicola Linkleter public sector has become suspicious of so-called pauses and Managing Director, Badenoch &
  3. 3. Re-branding the state: the public sector brand in an age of cuts, strikes and reforms / Key findings / July 2011 Page 3 0f 9Executive summaryOur latest research report shows that Moreover, when asked why they chose apublic sector morale is still low, nearly public over private sector career, manya year on from the 2010 Comprehensive suggested that they enjoyed working withSpending Review, and that this has posed their colleagues, or that they felt thatthe greatest challenge over the last six their work made a positive difference. Inmonths. Workplaces are under resourced, spite of cuts and crises across the sector,and uncertainty still grips the public sector. workers seem to believe that the strength of the various benefits offered by the publicIn spite of the current situation, public sector outweigh the potential negatives.sector workers are not actively seekingalternative employment, and still cherish Our research perhaps highlights the firsttheir traditionally generous benefits movement towards a revival of the publicpackages – so much so that they consider sector brand, with teams united and moralethem worth striking over. While the in some sectors rising. There is howevermajority of workers did not believe that still a great way to go. Managers must takethe strikes would have a positive effect on the lessons learnt over the last few monthsthe public sector workforce, a third said into full consideration, and ensure that staffthat they would strike over pensions. loyalty to the public sector brand is built upon to affect positive and lasting
  4. 4. Re-branding the state: the public sector brand in an age of cuts, strikes and reforms / Key findings / July 2011 Page 4 0f 9Key findings by sectorCentral Government Local Government• 51.4% would rate central government • 42.9% believed that an under resourced morale as ‘poor’ workforce has been their greatest challenge of late• 48.6% of central government workers were optimistic about the strikes, • 64.4% of local government workers suggesting that they would make a are not currently looking for alternative positive difference to those striking employment• 40.5% believe that pay grades for the • 61.5% of local government workers did not public and private sectors should be equal believe that the June strikes would have an ultimately positive outcomeCharities NHS• 23.7% of public sector charity workers say that they are happy where they are and • 47.5% said that maintaining morale has are not looking for alternative employment been their greatest challenge over the last six months• 65.8% said that the strikes would not make a positive difference to those • 43.4% would rate morale in the NHS as striking ‘average’• 44.7% said that they would receive a • 64.8% of NHS workers are not currently better pay and benefits package if they searching for a new job moved to the private sectorHousing• 40% said that managing budget cuts has been the sector’s greatest challenge over the last six months• 40% would rate morale in the housing sector as ‘good’• 40% believe that pay grades in the public sector should be better than they currently are, regardless of comparison with the private
  5. 5. Re-branding the state: the public sector brand in an age of cuts, strikes and reforms / Key findings / July 2011 Page 5 0f 9Conditions: morale and workplace culturePublic sector has been fluctuating since added media attention that the coalition’s department most clearly feeling thethe first rumours of cuts began to circulate unpopular NHS reforms have attracted will strain of head count cuts (53.2%), withfrom Whitehall in early 2010. Indeed, have only added to workplace unrest. the NHS closely following (52.5%).prior to the October 2010 ComprehensiveSpending Review, over a fifth (22%) of However, the picture is not entirely gloomy. Yet while lack of resource may be a clearthose working in the public sector were Nearly half (45%) of those working in the issue for the public sector in an age ofunsure what to expect, with one in five housing sector suggested that morale cuts and reported crisis, it appears thatsuggesting they were expecting significant was good to excellent, along with a workers are not, on the whole, workingjob losses (18%). In March of this year, such third of those who work in public sector harder as a result. Three quarters (74.9%)a feeling prevailed amongst employers and procurement, legal or IT services. Although of employees said they did not work longeremployees alike, with three quarters (76.6%) this is clearly far short of a widespread hours in the wake of the cuts. This wasciting average to low workplace morale. consensus on morale, we may be seeing not, however, the case for public sector a move within the public sector away from employers, two thirds (61.5%) of whomOn the surface, little seems to have changed. the disheartened majority of the past year suggest that they now work longer hours.Three quarters (73.3%) rated morale average or so, towards a greater expression of theto poor; this was spread fairly evenly across value of the public sector. As we shall see, In contrast, only one fifth (17.9%) of Scottishemployers and employees, with 73.5% of this is certainly borne out in our wider public sector workers said that they areemployees echoing low ratings on morale, research, which reflects on the possible working longer hours, whilst a third (30.3%)and 75% of senior decision makers. rising equity of the public sector brand. of workers in London are working harder in face of the cuts. Those in housing (40%),Moreover, when asked to describe the Yet for the time being, there is certainly central government (28.8%) and NHSgreatest challenge faced by workers in space for internal work to be done. Managers (29.7%) also echoed this sentiment. Workingthe wake of public sector cuts, just under must, as ever, seek to ease bad feeling practices across departments also differed,half (43.2%) of workers suggested that amongst staff through strong, clear and with those in legal (52.0%), Marketingmaintaining high levels of morale was the effective communication on change. This (37.5%), IT (33.9%), project managementbiggest issue faced by staff. Under resourced is particularly the case for under resourced (48.4%) working noticeably longer hours.workplaces, lack of security, and uncertainty workforces, a key and very current challengeat all levels, is impeding constructive change for the public sector. Two in five (43.1%) Such are the conditions in which the publicfor many. The crisis is being felt most employees across sectors and departments sector is operating at present. Indeed,acutely by senior decision makers, nearly believe that the cuts have had a distinctly while some progress has been made totwo thirds (61.1%) of whom cite morale as negative impact on the way in which they effect internal change, our repeated callsan increasing concern in the workplace. work – with processes rendered ineffective, for a review of internal communication and key staff members reduced in numbers. processes are yet to be actualised by publicMorale is a concern for workers throughout This sentiment is felt even more acutely by sector leaders. Clearly the need for strongthe UK, with those in London (40.4%), over half (52.8%) of senior decision makers. internal communications is as much of anScotland (51.3%) and the East Midlands imperative as ever, with stronger morale(52.1%) voicing particular frustration. Those in the West Midlands are particularly almost necessarily leading to a stronger,A high number of workers in the NHS affected by an under resourced workplace, more effective public sector brand.(79.9%) suggested that morale amongst with half (50.4%) expressing suchstaff was average to poor. Clearly, the concerns. Central Government is the Badenoch & Clark morale tracker: How would you rate morale in your department? March 2011 July 2011 Excellent 2.6% 3.5% Good 20.8% 23.3% Average 39.1% 38% Poor 37.5%
  6. 6. Re-branding the state: the public sector brand in an age of cuts, strikes and reforms / Key findings / July 2011 Page 6 0f 9Value and remunerationIn the wake of the recent strikes over public Across sectors, there is a resounding well be better, the benefits would not besector pension reform, commentators belief that the public and private sector so. This was echoed by a fifth (19.5%) ofwere quick to criticise those workers who workers should be on a level economic employees, and a quarter (25%) of seniorspoke out in the defense of the so-called footing. A third (33%) of NHS workers, and decision makers across the public sector,gold-plated schemes, which public sector half (49.5%) of local government workers a third (33.3%) of those based in Londonworkers have traditionally enjoyed. Yet believe that pay should equal that of the and a third (35.1%) of Central Governmentin spite of widespread criticism of public private sector – a view shared particularly workers. However, traditionally lucrativesector benefits – pensions, leave, working across departments by those working in areas are better paid in the private sector,hours, and so forth – it appears that IT (61%) and marketing (50%) services. according to half of IT workers (54.2%)workers themselves continue to firmly and Legal services employees (52.0%).advocate their compensation packages. An important consideration thus comesIndeed, a third (32%) of public sector to the forefront of analysis: what, then, Nonetheless, in spite of the lure of privateworkers believe that they should be are the implications for the public sector sector pay packets, relatively generouspaid more than they currently are; and brand? Will the pension reforms, strikes, benefits packages are still coveted bytwo fifths (40%) believe that their pay working conditions and cuts dissuade public sector workers. When askedshould at least be equal with that of their candidates from seeking public sector whether they would relinquish pay forprivate sector. This attitude is particularly roles? And will we see a talent drain benefits, employees were split almostprevalent in metropolitan areas, where in the coming months and years? 50/50; 55.2% disagreed, 44.8% agreed.the ‘squeezed middle’ of austerity Britain Perhaps this highlights that a commitment–according to the Financial Times, typically Our research highlights that feeling to the constituent elements of ‘brandconstituted by public sector workers – are amongst workers is mixed. While nearly public sector’ – pensions, holidays,feeling the pressure of inflation and VAT half (46.1%) believe that if they moved working hours - is far from waning.rises. Over a third (37.4%) of London- to the private sector, that both pay andbased workers firmly believe that they benefits would be higher, one fifth (19.6%)should receive better remuneration. believe that while private sector pay may Do you think you would receive a better remuneration package in the private sector? Yes, both pay and benefits would be better 46.1% Yes, pay would be higher but the benefits would not be as good 19.6% No, I think the public sector pays better and provides better benefits 18.7% No, benefits would be better but pay would not be as good
  7. 7. Re-branding the state: the public sector brand in an age of cuts, strikes and reforms / Key findings / July 2011 Page 7 0f 9Employer and employee brandingThe recent public sector strikes were sector, over a third (38.3%) noted that theyin many ways demonstrative of a firm feel as if their work makes a difference incommitment from many to safeguarding the the grander scheme of things – with nearlyhallmarks of the public sector brand – the half (45.5%) of London-based workers, andworking culture and compensation and half (50.2%) of NHS workers, echoing thisbenefits packages on offer. Although our sentiment. And on a purely utilitarian level,research reports mixed beliefs regarding two fifths (41.1%) of workers felt that theythe overall success of the strikes, many had been employed in the public sectorpublic sector workers were nonetheless for a number of years and as a result didvocal about the value of striking itself. not want to change job – with half (50.7%) in the North East of a similar belief. AWhen asked to assess which issues third (28.1%) feel that work/life balancewere most worth striking over, a third is better in public than private sector.(33.8%) said pensions, a quarter(26.1%) said pay, and a fifth (20%) As a result, two thirds (64.7%) of publicwould defend their benefits package. sector workers are not currently searching for a new job. Commitment to the sectorThe strikes themselves were perhaps a does seem to strengthen month by month,testament to the continued strength of as teams navigate through the cuts andthe public sector brand; paradoxically, get used to new ways of striking, public sector workersdemonstrated a commitment to the valueof their employer. Indeed, when askedwhich factors attracted them to the public What attracts you to working in the public sector? I’ve been in my job a number of years and don’t want to change 41.1% I feel like I make a difference 38.3% My colleagues are good to work with 33.2% The work/life balance is better than the private sector 28.1% I can’t get a job anywhere else at the moment so have to stay 19% The benefits are better than private sector 14.9% The remuneration is good 12.5% I don’t feel I have the skills to move 11.9% I’m actively looking in the private sector 4.4% Other
  8. 8. Re-branding the state: the public sector brand in an age of cuts, strikes and reforms / Key findings / July 2011 Page 8 0f 9Concluding thoughtsThe public sector brand has undergone an few months into full consideration. Wealmost unprecedented period of change. have suggested that the cuts could beWe have previously suggested that key seen as a genuinely positive opportunity toto the sector’s full regeneration will be reassess internal direction and repositioninternal development, for external gain. the public sector employer brand. This willEffective communication would be key to only be possible if the correct emphasis isreinvigorating the public sector workforce, made on building staff trust, on ensuringto strengthen morale and ensure the that listening exercises are genuine, andredevelopment of the public sector brand. making sure that highly held compensationThis in turn would ensure that a drain on and benefits packages will remain thetalent would be lessened, and that the public sector’s unique selling point.employer brand was able to attract furthertalent to public sector organisations. As we have seen over the last year, failure to do so will only lead to theOur research perhaps demonstrates that worsening of morale, the deepeningthe future for the public sector remains of antagonism at all levels, andas uncertain as ever. Cuts and reforms decreasing performance and results.have been poorly managed, and haveled to a great feeling of unease amongst However, if employers continue to listenworkers. Morale is still low – amongst to staff, and make sure that their concernsworkers and employers. And the recent are indeed addressed satisfactorily,strikes highlighted that the threat to we may see the public sector remergemuch prized benefits packages has led triumphant over the next six outrage throughout the ranks. Come October, a year on from Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review, it will beIn our last two reports, we have resolutely hugely interesting to see how far the publicstated that in times of crisis, communication sector may have developed – if at key. While morale in certain sectorsappears to be lifting, public sector managersmust take the lessons learnt over the
  9. 9. Re-branding the state: the public sector brand in an age of cuts, strikes and reforms / Key findings / July 2011 Page 9 0f 9Details and methodology Other Badenoch & Clark resources Public sector cuts: budgeting for the big societyThe research was conducted by an sector professionals were surveyed across Read the key findings from our opinion researchindependent research company between 17 Central Government, Charities, Housing, undertaken in March 2011.June 2011 and 27 June 2011. 1001 UK public Local Government and the NHS. Public sector cuts: workplace worries Read the key findings from our opinion research undertaken prior to the Comprehensive SpendingAbout Badenoch & Clark Review in October 2010. Nationwide career clinicsWhether you’re looking for a fresh Specialists in public sector recruitment, Our career clinics provided solutions on how tocareer opportunity or to recruit talented we work with a variety of organisations cope with the anticipated redundancy programme as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.professionals, you’ll want to work with a ranging from the NHS and housing They helped public sector professionals preparerecruitment partner who really understands associations to central and local for the jobs market by providing expert adviceyour needs. A partner who listens and you government. Increasingly recognised as on CV writing; interview techniques; personal branding and career plans. Download the toolscan trust to deliver. a leading player, the company is often seen discussed and ensure you are ready to take your as the go-to commentator on recruitment career forward.You’ll discover that at Badenoch & Clark issues in the marketplace. insight.badenochandclark.comwe invest in getting to know what’s really Market commentary, news and analysis forimportant to you. You’ll have access to our Which means that when it comes to building customers and contacts of Badenoch & Clark.know-how and expertise. And you’ll find your team or finding your next career move, Insight is here to help you make informed career and talent management decisions, by keepingthat we work hard to help you make the right there can be only one choice of public sector you on the cutting edge of developments in yourconnections. All delivered in a refreshingly recruitment partner. profession and a thought leader in your field.honest and open way. Connections Our unique magazine for customers and contacts of Badenoch & Clark, published three times ofContact us year. Packed with comment, opinion, news and analysis on recruitment, talent management and broader business issues.For more information on our research please contact Elvira Tynan Career guides A series of ‘how-to’ guides for employers and employees focusing on topics including employer branding, career planning and work-life balance. A quarterly index tracking employee happiness across the UK office workforce. Results by profession and region.© 2011 Badenoch & Clark. All rights reserved. Badenoch & Clark accepts no liability for the accuracy of the contents or the opinions expressed herein.Recruitment specialists for: Accounting & Finance, Banking & Financial Services,Human Resources, IT, Legal, Marketing & Communications, Procurement & Supply Chain,Project & Programme Management, Public