Public-sector pressure hits work satisfaction

satisfaction in the public sector decreased during the 1990s because of a rise
in stress levels, a new study claims.

The report, What Has Been Happening to Job Satisfaction in Britain? by Warwick
University, claims that an increase in depression and sleep loss during the
1990s has made employment in the public sector more pressured and less

On a rating of one to seven, one being completely dissatisfied, seven
satisfied, the average score of public sector staff was 5.6 in 1991, but
dropped to 5.4 by 1998.

The private sector started the decade with a job satisfaction score of 5.45
but by 1998 this was reduced to 5.3.

To assess stress levels, the sample of 5,000 private and public sector staff
was interviewed each year during the 90s.

One of the report’s authors, Andrew Oswald, blamed a heavier workload and
increased evaluation and inspection for the rise in stress and a consequent
reduction in job satisfaction.

He said, "Public humiliation is not found in any other job. Who, apart
from teachers and doctors, get their names published all over the papers saying
that they are second rate?"

All groups of public sector staff have become less satisfied at work but
this was particularly noticeable in the NHS, higher education and local

The report also blames high expectations for making UK graduates the
unhappiest employees in the workplace and claims that older workers are more
satisfied than their younger counterparts.

Oswald said, "It is a process of adaptation. Young people just
finishing university have high expectations, then they go through a painful
period that involves coming to terms with their limitations. After this they
are happy again."

Job satisfaction is higher among women than men, lower among black people
than white and slightly lower in unionised workplaces than non-unionised.

By Paul Nelson

Comments are closed.