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Public sector employees disillusioned with leaders

Matt McAllister

Low morale can affect staff

Employees have lost faith in public sector leaders, while many senior managers are looking to leave their organisation. Those are the stark findings of a new report out this week

The research, from the management consultancy Hay Group, polled 1,000 public sector employees within the fields of local and central government, health and social care and education. Three quarters (72%) of those surveyed  said they don’t feel proud to work in the public sector, while 70% added that morale is an all time low.

Bearing this in mind, it is perhaps no surprise that many are looking to leave their employer, with more than two-fifths (43%) saying they would like to leave the public sector entirely. This includes senior managers: according to the report, almost a third (32%) are looking to leave their organisation this year.

If leaders fail to take action, they risk losing their most capable staff. And where talent goes, pride, morale and productivity are sure to follow.

Leadership failure is cited as one reason for this lack of morale, with a fifth (23%) pointing to a lack of leadership within their organisation. Almost half (47%) added that they don’t believe that their leaders deliver on their promises.

Austerity measures seems to be one reason for the increasing lack of faith in public sector leadership, with just over half (52%) saying they felt less supported by managers since the spending cuts began.

“Within the context of the new economic reality, leaders urgently need to reinvigorate employees’ enthusiasm and reconnect them with a clear organisational purpose and vision,” said John Howarth, associate director in public sector consulting at Hay Group. “If leaders fail to take action, they risk losing their most capable staff. And where talent goes, pride, morale and productivity are sure to follow.”

The lack of faith in public sector leadership seems to go right to the top. Earlier this year the National Association of Head Teachers passed a vote of no confidence in the education secretary Michael Gove, while the British Medical Association passed a similar vote of no confidence in health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

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