Public Sector Morale Drops in First Half of 2017

Public Sector Jobs has carried out research that reveals public sector morale to be lower than it has ever been before, with industrial relations worsening. Only 17% of people working in the public sector say that morale is high, while 53% say that it is currently low.

24% of those surveyed said that they would be prepared to support strike action, while another 26% said that they would consider industrial action that was not a strike. This is in contrast to the 18% who said that they would support strike action back in November. Also, it was found that if the government continues with its plans for regional pay variations and to remove the collective bargaining right, 44% of those with careers in the public sector would consider industrial action.

Some of the key reasons for the drop in morale are proposed changes to benefits, job cuts and a three year pay freeze. Many people – 40% – from state and local government organisations said that they thought the public sector is no longer an attractive career, and a significant majority (64%) said that they felt the perception of the sector from the public has fallen.

The Director of Public Sector at, Mike Booker, commented on the findings:

“With debates on how to keep experience and expertise within the public sector, it is vital that organisations remain attractive to jobseekers today so that it isn’t left with staff who cannot continue to support a complex programme of reforms. That is made all the more difficult by a drop in morale, worsening industrial relations and the impression that the public is less supportive of the sector in general.”

Cuts to public sector pensions and ways for businesses to hold onto expertise and skill were also covered in the research. 18% of ex-public sector workers surveyed said that they had more than 2.5 years in the sector, while 32% of ex-public sector workers said they had over 20 years’ working in the sector.

Mike Booker said:

“Those with experience are often on higher wages because of their seniority and can therefore appear an easier way to cut wage bills. But with those senior members of staff goes the decades of experience and loyalty to the organisation which is difficult to replace, especially as morale falls amongst those still working in the sector.”

One controversial finding from the study is that, compared to their private sector counterparts, people working in the public sector are less likely to consider a pay cut to stop a co-worker being made redundant. A third of public sector workers said that they’d refuse a pay cut, compared with a quarter of those working in the private sector.

The results of the research come after public sector pay has been frozen for three years, and workers have seen their real pay decrease.