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Public sector feels undervalued and underpaid

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Public sector employees feel undervalued and think their pay does not match their performance.

A Study reveals attitudes of public sector workers towards their profession, pay and working conditions. Only 25 percent feel adequately paid, while 69 percent feel less valued by society than 10 years ago. The poll of 1,200 public and private sector workers, commissioned by civil service and public sector membership group CSMA Club, found that the majority believe they are underpaid, with only a quarter feeling their pay adequately reflects their performance, compared to almost 40 percent of those in the private sector.

Discontent with pay could be driven by increased working hours, the survey suggests, given that over half of public sector respondents (54 percent) stated that they are expected to work longer hours compared with five years ago. As well as feeling underpaid, 69 percent of those in the public sector said they felt less valued by society than 10 years ago – more than double the proportion of those in the private sector (34 percent).

The research suggests that many public sector employees blame the media for making them feel undervalued, with 66 percent of public sector employees feeling the media creates a negative bias towards them. Despite perceived negativity about their roles, public sector employees retain a pride in their work – with 51 percent saying they felt proud to tell others where they worked, compared to only 37 percent of private sector employees. Almost two thirds (61 percent) in the public sector said their job allowed them to give something back to society, while only a third in the private sector gave the same response. Carl Fillery, chief executive of CSMA Club, said: “It is clear that although some dissatisfaction with pay and working conditions exists, our survey suggests those in the public sector are extremely committed to their work and gain a huge sense of personal satisfaction from it.

“But we know from separate research that despite the slow thawing of the freeze on public sector pay, employees are worse off now in real terms than they were three years ago. Public sector employees’ outlook on their sector is shifting rapidly so it is crucial that managers and HR professionals recognise that reward and recognition is as important a factor in effective employee engagement in the public sector as it is in the private sector.”

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