White expresses concern at results of civil service Employee Engagement Survey

29 January 2016

Minister for Communications Alex White today (Friday) said he was concerned at the widespread perception among civil servants that their work was not valued by the public. Responding to yesterday’s publication of the Civil Service Employee Engagement Survey, which found that just 15% of civil servants believed the public valued their work, Minister White warned that this could have a “corrosive effect” on staff morale and public service delivery.

Speaking at the Ireland eGovernment Awards Ceremony at Dublin Castle, Minister White said: “It is always important for politicians to remember that the people who work in our civil and public services are at the frontline when citizens experience or perceive shortcomings in service provision.

“The results of the Civil Service Employee Engagement Survey reveal a very high level of enthusiasm, among civil servants, for the work they do. 70% say they are enthusiastic about their work and only 10% say they are not.

“But, I was equally struck by the finding that just 15% of civil servants believe that the public respects and appreciates their work. This is a shockingly low figure, not least because of the huge positive contribution that public servants bring to the lives of our citizens and communities.

“This widespread perception, among public servants, that their contribution to society is undervalued, could have a corrosive impact on staff morale – and potentially service delivery itself – if it is not addressed.

“This is particularly important now that we are experiencing a sustained recovery in economic activity, growth and – most importantly – employment. We mustn’t forget the huge contribution that public servants have made to this recovery, or how they maintained, and indeed improved, services during the worst economic crisis in the history of this state, and against the background of pay cuts and a 10% decline in staff numbers.

“Now that we are recruiting again, and beginning to restore public service incomes, more needs to be done to highlight both the challenges and achievements of public service delivery. This responsibility falls to politicians and senior public service managers. But it is also a challenge for our media, commentators, and everyone who engages in public discourse on these matters.”

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