Largest-ever survey of Kiwi employees shows work culture needs change

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New Zealand’s public servants are hard-working, motivated and resilient, but being failed by a workplace culture which doesn’t recognise their strengths, the PSA says.

In association with Victoria University of Wellington, the PSA has released its Workplace Dynamics Survey 2016.

It’s the biggest-ever survey of New Zealand workers, with more than 14,000 employees from the public service, district health boards and the community public sector responding.

Three-quarters of the respondents say meaningful public service is very important, and nearly 90 percent say they do their best regardless of difficulties.

But more than half say they don’t believe they are paid fairly, and many have not had a promotion in the past 10 years.

"In many ways the survey’s findings confirm what we already knew: our members are amazing people who are deeply committed to their jobs", PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk says.

"But unfortunately, it also confirms they’re underpaid and undervalued."

The PSA also believes workplace culture needs attention, with some front-line staff reporting a high incidence of upsetting behaviour in their jobs.

43 percent of the respondents had been verbally abused by a client in the past year, with call centre staff, inspectors and regulators and social workers at particular risk.

Ms Polaczuk says this, and continued reports of covert bullying, are a concern.

"We agree with Sir Geoffrey Palmer, who recently wrote the wellbeing of the public service goes to the heart of our wellbeing as a nation," Ms Polaczuk says.

"We believe these findings may be echoed in many other Kiwi workplaces.

"We need to start talking about New Zealand’s workplace culture, and the public sector should lead by example.

"We look forward to the discussions the PSA’s research will generate."