Unions warn of Civil Service skills exodus if government ignores pay issue

The government risks a skills exodus after claiming civil servants had 76 better reasons to come to work than pay, a leading union has warned.

Unpublished Cabinet Office research showed pay was only the 77th most important factor for public servants to feel committed to their work. More than 100,000 workers were surveyed to help the government create an ‘engagement index’. This will eventually give line managers a score out of 100 on how committed their team is.

John Bell, Cabinet Office head of employee engagement, told Personnel Today: “In one of the research studies, pay was cited as one of the most poorly received aspects [of the job]. However, as a driver it was 77th most important to engagement.”

Factors beating it included the work itself, the aspiration to improve wider society, and management of the organisation.

“People join the Civil Service for very different reasons than when they join the private sector, and we need to make sure we create our employee proposition accordingly,” said Bell.

The Public and Commercial Services Union, in the midst of a bitter campaign against low pay for civil servants, said the government needed to change its attitude.

“It is naïve to think people work from the goodness of their hearts,” said a spokesman. “People have bills to pay and mouths to feed. There will come a point when people find they cannot get by financially. The Civil Service risks losing skilled, dedicated people.”

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