Release of major research study on career aspirations of public servants
Media release from Mark Prebble, State Services Commissioner, 1 May 2006.
The State Services Commissioner, Mark Prebble, today released the 2005 Career Progression and Development Public Service Report. This research is the only survey across the Public Service that asks staff about their perceptions of career aspirations, training and development, and their work environment.
The State Services Commission last undertook the survey in 2000.
Mark Prebble says as with any survey, the results are a snapshot in time, but they provide some insights into the working lives of public servants.
"Overall, the report shows a committed group of public servants who take pride in their work. It also shows a continuing need to improve the skills of management. The work programme to support the Development Goals for the State Services will address the workforce issues raised through this survey," Mark Prebble said.
Some of the key findings are:
- Overall, public servants' expectations of their employing organisations have increased since 2000, especially in areas such as work-life balance that have had a higher profile.
- Public servants were more ambitious than in 2000 (especially Māori and Pacific peoples), but they were less likely to aspire to a CE position.
- A feeling of accomplishment, challenging work, effective management, and pay and benefits were highly important to most public servants.
- Opportunities for advancement have become highly important to a growing proportion of public servants since 2000, particularly for staff under 30 years. This age group were generally more satisfied with their advancement opportunities than other age groups.
- Public servants' satisfaction with job security and with working for a reputable organisation have increased since 2000.
- Managers were rated well at taking a flexible and supportive approach to work and family conflicts, and at allowing their staff to use initiative in carrying out their work.
- Only a third of managers were rated 'good' at providing their staff with performance feedback and actively encouraging and supporting career development.
- Nearly a third of public servants reported that a concern that they would not be able to balance work and family responsibilities had stopped them from applying for a higher-level position.
- Staff shortages were reported to have adversely impacted on workloads, with remaining staff being required to cover for vacancies and to train new staff. Those public servants aged over 30 years were generally less satisfied with having a manageable workload.
"It is clear from these findings that public servants are primarily motivated by the desire for challenging work that makes a difference. Making a difference for New Zealand is, after all, what public service is all about," Mark Prebble said.
"All Public Service leaders will address the need to make sure managers are better equipped to support the career development of their staff. One of the hardest roles for a manager is getting the best out of people and good performance management is an important contribution to personal and professional growth.
"I am reassured to see the levels of ambition among public servants. But I am concerned that some people have put their ambitions on hold due to the perceived difficulty of balancing work and family commitments. I want the Public Service to model being a good employer, as set out in the State Sector Act. That means being 'family-friendly' as well as maintaining the highest possible standards in terms of fairness, and professional conduct.
"I am also delighted at the reported increase in staff believing that they are working for a reputable organisation. The Public Service has worked hard to establish itself as a good employer.
"The Public Service remains a place of diversity. It is important that the Public Service reflects the diversity of New Zealand - at all levels. It cannot afford to waste talent. Agencies must recognise and respond to the career aspirations of women, Māori and Pacific peoples, and the more complex labour market in which the Public Service operates.
"Lifting the performance of the Public Service depends to a large extent on the capabilities and commitment of public servants. In the current labour market it is not enough to hope that that the Public Service, and wider State Services, will attract and retain quality employees. The Public Service must be smarter and more responsive as an employer if it is to be successful in attracting and keeping the people New Zealand needs.
"The State Services Commission's 'Employer of Choice' and 'Excellent State Servants' Development Goals are part of a strategic, whole-of-sector approach to improve the State Services' ability to attract, develop and retain a workforce that will meet the needs of the Government and New Zealanders," Mark Prebble said.
The survey can be found online at:
Karen Jones, SSC, 04 495 6657