Saturday 27 December 2014

Outside experts will be hired to make 'miserable' civil servants happier

Paul Melia and Gordon Deegan

Published 22/02/2013 | 04:00

THE State's largest government department is seeking outside help to make their miserable staff happier.

The Department of Social Protection is to hire experts to help review its "culture and values" after a survey found staff did not feel appreciated in their jobs.

More than half of 2,700 people surveyed said they did not feel they were part of a "team". Some 49pc said their employers did not care about their "wellbeing", while almost 80pc felt their prospects of promotion were limited.

The survey was carried out by Irish and UK academics and more than 2,700 responses were received from staff working in the Department, FAS and HSE Community Welfare Service.

The department has since tendered for consultants to help change the organisation, with top-ranking officials expected to engage in brainstorming sessions to help make things right.

The survey, 'Work, Management and Change – A Survey of Employees' Views and Experiences' found that "views on communication and participation are quite negative".

Fewer than 30pc believed they were adequately rewarded given the amount of effort they put into their jobs, but positively, most believed their work was helping people and liked working in the department.

"However, only 32pc of respondents feel inspired by the work they do," the report gloomily noted.

"In the case of overall wellbeing ... quite a high proportion of respondents (38pc) feel drained at the end of their working day. Over half of the sample feel that it often seems they have too much work for one person to do."

Managers were unwilling to deal with underperforming workers, it added.

However, there are positives. Most colleagues help each other, agree that working with others is not a strain and "feel happy" when fully engaged.

Well-being

Staff working in the Department of Social Protection were less happy than their colleagues in FAS and the Community Welfare Service, with "levels of wellbeing significantly lower".

It recommends that communication between staff and management be improved, that criteria for promotion be made clear and that managers be trained to deal with under-performance.

The Department is the largest in Government, with an annual budget of €20.5bn in 2012, and employs 7,000 after 1,000 transferred from the CWS and 700 from FAS.

Irish Independent

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