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NZ state employees 'disengaged,' Right Management Survey says

Tuesday 24th July 2012

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New Zealand's public sector is struggling to engage its employees amid anxiety over looming job cuts as the government looks to reduce costs, according to Right Management's Engagement Benchmarking survey.

The survey of over 2,000 New Zealanders nationwide found 31 percent of public servants were engaged in their work, compared to 37 percent of private sector employees. Central government employees were the least engaged on 28 percent.

Overall, 36 percent of kiwis felt engaged at work, down from 42 percent in 2009, when the last survey was conducted.

"Changes have been going on all around us, that's universal for everyone who has been faced with this difficult economic environment," said Kari Scrimshaw, principal consultant. "The results show us how the wider public service is being impacted operating on a day-to-day basis."

"We know job security is low within the (public) sector, and we've heard how morale has suffered in specific agencies," Scrimshaw said. "Delivering better public services is an ambitious goal."

Unemployment in the capital city of Wellington was 6.3 percent in the first quarter, lower than the national rate of 6.7 percent. The jobless rate for Wellington fell from a 16-year high 7.1 percent in the fourth quarter last year, government figures show.

The Right Management survey found 35 percent of public sector employees felt connected to their organisation down from 43 percent in 2009.

Overall 42 percent of kiwis were engaged with their organisation down from 53 percent in 2009.

Scrimshaw highlighted that the divide between "doers" and "leaders" is increasing.

Some 57 percent of senior management employees are engaged in their work up, from 45 percent. That's compared with 32 percent of workers with no management responsibilities down from 40 percent.

"We have a strange scenario in New Zealand," Scrimshaw said. "Our leaders are becoming more engaged as the people who are doing the jobs are becoming less engaged - we have to look at what is happening to the base of our organisations."

For the third year running engineers topped the most difficult roles to fill, followed by sales representative, trade workers and accountants and finance staff.

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