2018 Public Service Employee Survey: Summary report of results for the overall public service

This report contains the results for the 2018 Public Service Employee Survey (PSES) for the overall public service. The results provide insight into federal public service employees’ engagement and into their opinions about their leadership, the workforce, their workplace, workplace well-being, and compensation.

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Background

The PSES was conducted every 3 years from 1999 until 2017. In 2018, the survey became an annual survey.

The survey is led by the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, within the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. The 2018 survey was administered by Advanis, a Canadian market and social research firm, and was conducted from August 20 to October 5, 2018.

The PSES helps the federal public service identify what it is doing well and what it could be doing better to ensure the continuous improvement of people management practices in government. The PSES results support the Federal Public Service Mental Health Strategy and contribute to frameworks such as the Departmental Results Framework and the Management Accountability Framework.

Survey content

Extensive consultations with policy centres, employment equity group chairs and champions committees, central agencies, departments and agencies, and bargaining agents led to some content changes from the 2017 survey. Questions were added in 2018 to provide more insight into issues related to workplace well-being and compensation.

The 2018 PSES contained 91 questions:

  • 72 opinion questions and 19 demographic questions.
  • Of the 72 opinion questions, there were:
    • 14 new questions
    • 58 questions repeated from the 2017 PSES

Overview of analytical approach

This report presents the 2018 survey results for the overall public service and, when possible, compares them with the overall results for the previous 3 triennial surveys. Comparisons are possible only for questions that are identical to questions asked in previous surveys.

Throughout this report, question numbers are abbreviated as Q01, Q02, Q03, and so on.

Results are provided as percentages. The totals used to calculate the percentages are based on the following and do not include the responses “Don’t know” and “Not applicable”:

  • the sum of “Strongly agree” and “Somewhat agree” responses
  • the sum of “Always / Almost always” and “Often” responses
  • the sum of “Very high” and “High” responses
  • the sum of “To a large extent” and “To a very large extent”
  • “Yes” response to yes-or-no questions
  • the selected responses in lists where more than one response could be selected

For most questions, high percentages indicate good results and low percentages indicate poor results. For several questions, however, the opposite is the case. For the questions about the following, high percentages indicate poor results, and low percentages indicate good results:

  • organizational performance (Q16)
  • work-related stress (Q62, Q63, Q64)
  • harassment (Q48)
  • discrimination (Q55)
  • pay or other compensation issues (Q67, Q73)

To protect the confidentiality of individuals’ responses, results are aggregated and are suppressed for groups of fewer than 10 respondents.

Response rate

The invitation to complete the 2018 PSES was sent to 282,615 employees in 84 participating organizations in the federal public service.

A total of 163,121 employees participated in the survey, for an overall response rate of 57.7%,Footnote 1 which is lower than the 2017 and 2014 response rates (61.3% and 71.4%, respectively).

Respondent demographics

This section provides information on some of the demographic characteristics of respondents.

Regional distribution

Table 1 shows the breakdown of 2018 PSES respondents by region.

Table 1: 2018 PSES respondents by region
Region Percentage
Atlantic 10.3%
Quebec (excluding National Capital Region) 10.7%
Ontario (excluding National Capital Region) 13.9%
Prairies, Nunavut, Northwest Territories 12.3%
British Columbia, Yukon 8.5%
National Capital Region 43.7%
Outside Canada 0.7%

Occupational distribution

Table 2 shows the top 10 occupational groups among 2018 survey respondents.

Table 2: Top 10 occupational groups
Ranking Occupational
group
Percentage
1 AS 13.2%
2 SP (CRA) 10.3%
3 PM 10.0%
4 CR 7.4%
5 EC 6.8%
6 CS 6.2%
7 EG 3.4%
8 EX 2.6%
9 AU 2.6%
10 FB 2.5%

Years of service

Table 3 shows the breakdown of respondents by years of service in the federal public service and in their current organization.

Table 3: Respondents by years of service in the federal public service and in their current organization (2018)
Years of service In federal public
service
In current
organization
Less than 3 years 18.0% 30.6%
3 to 10 years 29.6% 34.0%
11 to 20 years 34.3% 24.8%
More than 20 years 18.1% 10.6%

Supervisors

22.8% of respondents indicated that they are supervisors.

Results

This section presents the results for each survey question, organized by theme.

Employee engagement

Engagement is assessed through questions that gauge employees’ job satisfaction, commitment and satisfaction with their organization. The 2018 survey contained 7 questions related to employee engagement.

Table 4 shows the 2018 results for the questions related to employee engagement. It also shows the results for these questions over time, when applicable.

Table 4: Results for questions about employee engagement (2008, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2008
(%)
2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)
2018
(%)

Table 4 Notes

Table 4 Note 1

Question was not asked

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5 I get a sense of satisfaction from my work. 77 76 74 77 75
9 Overall, I feel valued at work. table 4 note * table 4 note * table 4 note * 65 66
10 I am proud of the work that I do. table 4 note * 89 88 87 85
14 Overall, I like my job. 84 82 79 80 80
43 I would recommend my department or agency as a great place to work. table 4 note * 64 63 66 67
44 I am satisfied with my department or agency. 68 65 64 68 68
45 I would prefer to remain with my department or agency, even if a comparable job was available elsewhere in the federal public service. 60 59 57 59 59
  • 75% of employees felt that they get a sense of satisfaction from their work (Q05), a slight decrease from 2017 (77%) and similar to 2014 (74%).
  • 66% of employees felt valued at work (Q09), similar to 2017 (65%).
  • 85% of employees agreed that they are proud of the work they do (Q10), a slight decrease from 2017 (87%) and a decrease from 2014 (88%).
  • 80% of employees agreed that they like their job (Q14), unchanged from 2017 and similar to 2017 (79%).
  • 67% of employees would recommend their organization as a great place to work (Q43), similar to 2017 (66%) and an improvement from 2014 (63%).
  • 68% of employees agreed that they are satisfied with their organization (Q44), unchanged from 2017 and an improvement from 2014 (64%).
  • 59% of employees would prefer to remain with their organization even if a comparable job was available elsewhere in the federal public service (Q45), unchanged from 2017 and a slight improvement from 2014 (57%).

Leadership

The questions about leadership were divided into 2 groups:

  • questions pertaining to the respondent’s immediate supervisor
  • questions pertaining to senior management

Immediate supervisor

Table 5 shows the 2018 results for the questions related to the immediate supervisor. It also shows the results for these questions over time, when applicable.

Table 5: Results for questions about immediate supervisor (2008, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2008
(%)
2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)
2018
(%)

Table 5 Notes

Table 5 Note 1

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23 I can count on my immediate supervisor to keep his or her promises. 72 74 75 77 76
24 My immediate supervisor keeps me informed about the issues affecting my work. 71 73 75 76 75
26 I am satisfied with the quality of supervision I receive. table 5 note * table 5 note * 77 77 75
  • 76% of employees believed they could count on their immediate supervisor to keep his or her promises (Q23), similar to 2017 (77%) and 2014 (75%).
  • 75% of employees indicated that their immediate supervisor keeps them informed about the issues affecting their work (Q24), similar to 2017 (76%) and the same as 2014 (75%).
  • 75% of employees agreed that they are satisfied with the quality of supervision they receive (Q26), a slight decrease from 2017 and 2014 (77% in both years).

Senior management

Table 6 shows the 2018 results for the questions related to senior management. It also shows the results for these questions over time, when applicable.

Table 6: Results for questions about senior management (2008, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2008
(%)
2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)
2018
(%)

Table 6 Notes

Table 6 Note 1

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29 Senior managers in my department or agency lead by example in ethical behaviour. table 6 note * 58 62 64 63
30 I have confidence in the senior management of my department or agency. 55 52 53 57 58
31 Senior management in my department or agency makes effective and timely decisions. 44 45 45 49 48
32 Essential information flows effectively from senior management to staff. 51 48 47 50 48
  • 63% of employees felt that senior managers in their organization lead by example in terms of ethical behaviour (Q29), similar to 2017 (64%) and 2014 (62%).
  • 58% of employees had confidence in the senior management of their organization (Q30), similar to 2017 (57%) and an improvement from 2014 (53%).
  • 48% of employees indicated that their senior management makes effective and timely decisions (Q31), similar to 2017 (49%) and an improvement from 2014 (45%).
  • 48% of employees agreed that essential information flows effectively from senior management to staff (Q32), a slight decrease from 2017 (50%) and similar to 2014 (47%).

Workforce

The 2018 survey asked employees 18 questions about the workforce. These questions covered 5 sub-themes:

  • performance management
  • job fit and development
  • empowerment
  • work-life balance and workload
  • retention

Performance management

Survey questions covered 2 aspects of performance management:

  • performance management of the respondent (setting objectives, providing feedback and recognition)
  • the management of unsatisfactory employee performance

Table 7 shows the 2018 results for the questions related to performance management. It also shows the results for these questions over time, when applicable.

Table 7: Results for questions about performance management (2008, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2008
(%)
2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)
2018
(%)

Table 7 Notes

Table 7 Note 1

Question was not asked

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6 I receive meaningful recognition for work well done. table 7 note * 59 57 61 60
7 I have clear work objectives. table 7 note * table 7 note * table 7 note * 72 71
19 In my work unit, unsatisfactory employee performance is managed effectively. table 7 note * table 7 note * 38 40 41
22 I receive useful feedback from my immediate supervisor on my job performance. 67 70 72 73 73
28 I receive the support I need from senior management to address unsatisfactory performance issues in my work unit. (for supervisors) table 7 note * table 7 note * 66 66 65
  • 60% of employees agreed that they receive meaningful recognition for work well done (Q06), similar to 2017 (61%) and an improvement from 2014 (57%).
  • 71% of employees indicated that they have clear work objectives (Q07), similar to 2017 (72%).
  • 41% of employees felt that unsatisfactory employee performance is managed effectively in their work unit (Q19), similar to 2017 (40%) and an improvement from 2014 (38%). 13% of employees responded “Don’t know”.
  • 73% of employees reported that they receive useful feedback from their immediate supervisor on their job performance (Q22), unchanged from 2017 and similar to 2014 (72%).
  • 65% of supervisors believed that they receive the support they need from senior management to address unsatisfactory performance issues in their work unit (Q28), similar to 2017 and 2014 (66% in both years).

Job fit and development

Table 8 shows the 2018 results for the questions related to job fit and development. It also shows the results for these questions over time.

Table 8: Results for questions about job fit and development (2008, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2008
(%)
2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)
2018
(%)
1 I get the training I need to do my job. 68 69 63 66 70
2 My job is a good fit with my interests. 79 79 78 80 80
3 My job is a good fit with my skills. 85 84 82 84 84
37 My department or agency does a good job of supporting employee career development. 56 55 52 57 53
38 I believe I have opportunities for promotion within my department or agency, given my education, skills and experience. 51 44 42 48 48
  • 70% of employees believed that they get the training they need to do their job (Q01), an improvement from 2017 (66%) and a large improvement from 2014 (63%).
  • 80% of employees agreed that their job is a good fit with their interests (Q02), unchanged from 2017 and a slight improvement from 2014 (78%).
  • 84% of employees felt that their job is a good fit with their skills (Q03), unchanged from 2017 and a slight improvement from 2014 (82%).
  • 53% of employees felt that their organization does a good job of supporting employee career development (Q37), a decrease from 2017 (57%) and similar to 2014 (52%).
  • 48% of employees believed that they have opportunities for promotion within their organization, given their education, skills and experience (Q38), unchanged from 2017 and a large improvement from 2014 (42%).

Empowerment

Table 9 shows the 2018 results for the questions related to empowerment. It also shows the results for these questions over time, when applicable.

Table 9: Results for questions about empowerment (2008, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2008
(%)
2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)
2018
(%)

Table 9 Notes

Table 9 Note 1

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11 I have opportunities to provide input into decisions that affect my work. table 9 note * 68 62 67 65
12 I am encouraged to be innovative or to take initiative in my work. table 9 note * table 9 note * 63 67 66
13 I have support at work to provide a high level of service. table 9 note * 75 66 69 67
39 I feel I would be supported by my department or agency if I proposed a new idea. table 9 note * table 9 note * table 9 note * 58 57
  • 65% of employees felt that they have opportunities to provide input into decisions that affect their work (Q11), a slight decrease from 2017 (67%) and an increase from 2014 (62%).
  • 66% of employees agreed that they are encouraged to be innovative or to take initiative in their work (Q12), similar to 2017 (67%) and an increase from 2014 (63%).
  • 67% of employees believed they have support at work to provide a high level of service (Q13), a slight decrease from 2017 (69%) and similar to 2014 (66%).
  • 57% of employees agreed that they would be supported by their organization if they proposed a new idea (Q39), similar to 2017 (58%).

Work-life balance and workload

Table 10 shows the 2018 results for the questions related to work-life balance and workload. It also shows the results for these questions over time, when applicable.

Table 10: Results for questions about work-life balance and workload (2008, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2008
(%)
2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)
2018
(%)

Table 10 Notes

Table 10 Note 1

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4 I have support at work to balance my work and personal life. table 10 note * 75 71 74 76
15 I can complete my assigned workload during my regular working hours. 64 69 70 73 70
  • 76% of employees reported that they have support at work to balance their work and personal life (Q04), a slight increase from 2017 (74%) and an increase from 2014 (71%).
  • 70% of employees felt that they can complete their assigned workload during their regular working hours (Q15), a decrease from 2017 (73%) and the same as 2014 (70%).

Retention

Table 11 shows the 2018 results for the questions related to retention. It also shows the results for these questions over time, when applicable.

Table 11: Results for questions about retention (2008, 2011, 2014 and 2017)
Question
number
Question 2008
(%)
2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)
2018
(%)

Table 11 Notes

Table 11 Note 1

Question was not asked

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46 Do you intend to leave your current position in the next 2 years? table 11 note * 27 26 26 27
47 Please indicate your reason for leaving:
a) To retire table 11 note * 19 18 18 17
b) To pursue another position within my department or agency table 11 note * 32 32 30 33
c) To pursue a position in another department or agency table 11 note * 31 30 29 30
d) To pursue a position outside the federal public service table 11 note * 8 10 6 6
e) End of my term, casual or student employment table 11 note * table 11 note * table 11 note * 10 8
f) Other table 11 note * 10 11 6 6
  • 27% of employees indicated that they intend to leave their current position in the next 2 years (Q46), similar to 2017 and 2014 (26% in both years).

Employees who indicated that they intend to leave their current position in the next 2 years (Q47) reported the following as their reasons for leaving:

  • to retire: 17%, similar to 2017 and 2014 (18% in both years)
  • to pursue another position within their organization: 33%, an increase from 2017 (30%) and similar to 2014 (32%)
  • to pursue a position in another department or agency: 30%, similar to 2017 (29%) and the same as 2014 (30%)
  • to pursue a position outside the federal public service: 6%, unchanged from 2017 and a decrease from 2014 (10%)
  • end of term, casual or student employment: 8%, a slight decrease from 2017 (10%)
  • other: 6%, unchanged from 2017 and a decrease from 2014 (11%)

Workplace

The PSES contained 27 questions related to workplace practices. These questions covered 6 sub-themes:

  • organizational goals
  • organizational performance
  • respectful workplace
  • ethical workplace
  • harassment
  • discrimination

Organizational goals

Table 12 shows the 2018 results for the questions related to organizational goals. It also shows the results for these questions over time, when applicable.

Table 12: Results for questions about organizational goals (2008, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2008
(%)
2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)
2018
(%)

Table 12 Notes

Table 12 Note 1

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8 I know how my work contributes to the achievement of my department's or agency's goals. 82 80 79 81 84
33 My department or agency does a good job of communicating its vision, mission and goals. table 12 note * 67 65 67 67
  • 84% of employees reported that they know how their work contributes to the achievement of their organization’s goals (Q08), an improvement from 2017 (81%) and from 2014 (79%).
  • 67% of employees indicated that their organization does a good job of communicating its vision, mission and goals (Q33), unchanged from 2017 and a slight improvement from 2014 (65%).

Organizational performance

Table 13 shows the 2018 results for the questions related to organizational performance. It also shows the results for these questions over time, when applicable.

Table 13: Results for questions about organizational performance (2008, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2008
(%)
2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)
2018
(%)

Table 13 Notes

Table 13 Note 1

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16 I feel that the quality of my work suffers because of...
a. constantly changing priorities. 41 40 40 37 37
b. lack of stability in my department or agency. 35 34 37 33 33
c. too many approval stages. 43 45 48 43 43
d. unreasonable deadlines. 28 28 27 25 25
e. having to do the same or more work, but with fewer resources. 42 44 48 41 42
f. high staff turnover. 38 31 31 33 35
g. overly complicated or unnecessary business processes. table 13 note * table 13 note * 44 41 42

Employees indicated that the quality of their work “Always/Almost always” or “Often” suffers for the following reasons:

  • constantly changing priorities (Q16a): 37%, unchanged from 2017 and a decrease from 2014 (40%)
  • lack of stability in their organization (Q16b): 33%, unchanged from 2017 and a decrease from 2014 (37%)
  • too many approval stages (Q16c): 43%, unchanged from 2017 and a decrease from 2014 (48%)
  • unreasonable deadlines (Q16d): 25%, unchanged from 2017 and a slight decrease from 2014 (27%)
  • having to do the same or more work but with fewer resources (Q16e): 42%, similar to 2017 (41%) and a large decrease from 2014 (48%)
  • high staff turnover (Q16f): 35%, a slight increase from 2017 (33%) and an increase from 2014 (31%)
  • overly complicated or unnecessary business processes (Q16g): 42%, similar to 2017 (41%) and a slight decrease from 2014 (44%)

Respectful workplace

Table 14 shows the 2018 results for the questions related to a respectful workplace. It also shows the results for these questions over time, when applicable.

Table 14: Results for questions about a respectful workplace (2008, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2008
(%)
2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)
2018
(%)

Table 14 Notes

Table 14 Note 1

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18 In my work unit, every individual is accepted as an equal member of the team. table 14 note * table 14 note * 73 73 72
20 In my work unit, individuals behave in a respectful manner. table 14 note * table 14 note * 80 80 81
21 The people I work with value my ideas and opinions. table 14 note * table 14 note * table 14 note * table 14 note * 77
40 My department or agency implements activities and practices that support a diverse workplace. table 14 note * table 14 note * 79 76 78
41 I think that my department or agency respects individual differences (e.g., culture, work styles, ideas). table 14 note * 72 78 78 78
42 Overall, my department or agency treats me with respect. 74 76 79 80 81
  • 72% of employees believed that every individual in their work unit is accepted as an equal member of the team (Q18), similar to 2017 and 2014 (73% in both years).
  • 81% of employees believed that individuals behave in a respectful manner in their work unit (Q20), similar to 2017 and 2014 (80% in both years).
  • 77% of employees believed that the people they work with value their ideas and opinions (Q21).
  • 78% of employees indicated that their organization implements activities and practices that support a diverse workplace (Q40), a slight increase from 2017 (76%) and similar to 2014 (79%).
  • 78% of employees felt that their organization respects individual differences (Q41), unchanged from 2017 and 2014.
  • 81% of employees felt that their organization treats them with respect (Q42), similar to 2017 (80%) and a slight increase from 2014 (79%).

Ethical workplace

Table 15 shows the 2018 results for the questions related to an ethical workplace. It also shows the results for these questions over time, when applicable.

Table 15: Results for questions about an ethical workplace (2008, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2008
(%)
2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)
2018
(%)

Table 15 Notes

Table 15 Note 1

Question was not asked

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17 I am satisfied with how interpersonal issues are resolved in my work unit. table 15 note * table 15 note * 64 62 59
34 If I am faced with an ethical dilemma or a conflict between values in the workplace, I know where I can go for help in resolving the situation. 70 74 77 74 71
35 My department or agency does a good job of promoting values and ethics in the workplace. table 15 note * table 15 note * table 15 note * table 15 note * 69
36 I feel I can initiate a formal recourse process (e.g., grievance, complaint, appeal) without fear of reprisal. table 15 note * 44 45 48 48
  • 59% of employees indicated that they are satisfied with how interpersonal issues are resolved in their work unit (Q17), a decrease from 2017 (62%) and from 2014 (64%).
  • 71% of employees reported that, if faced with an ethical dilemma or a conflict between values in the workplace, they know where to go for help in resolving the situation (Q34), a decrease from 2017 (74%) and a large decrease from 2014 (77%).
  • 69% of employees indicated that their department or agency does a good job of promoting values and ethics in the workplace (Q35).
  • 48% of employees felt that they could initiate a formal recourse process (for example, grievance, complaint, appeal) without fear of reprisal (Q36), unchanged from 2017 and an increase from 2014 (45%).

Harassment

15% of employees indicated that they had been the victim of harassment on the job in the last 12 months (Q48).

Until 2018, the PSES was conducted every 3 years and asked employees whether they had experienced harassment on the job in the previous 2 years. In 2018, the PSES became an annual survey. Employees are now asked whether they have experienced harassment on the job in the previous 12 months. Because the questions refer to different timeframes, the 2018 results for harassment cannot be compared with the results from previous surveys.

Sources of harassment

Employees who indicated they have been the victim of harassment, reported the following as source(s) of harassment (Q49):

  • co-workers: 51%
  • individuals with authority over them: 62%
  • individuals working for them: 8%
  • individuals for whom they have custodial responsibility: 5%
  • individuals from other departments or agencies: 6%
  • members of the public: 10%
  • other: 4%

Nature of harassment

Employees who indicated that they had been harassed on the job in the past 12 months were asked to indicate the nature of the harassment they experienced (Q50). The following were the most frequently cited types:

  • offensive remark: 56%
  • unfair treatment: 48%
  • being excluded or being ignored: 46%
  • aggressive behaviour: 40%
  • humiliation: 41%
  • excessive control: 40%

Actions taken to address the harassment

Of the 15% of employees who indicated that they had been the victim of harassment on the job in the past 12 months, 7% indicated that they filed a grievance or formal complaint. 27% of employees indicated that they took no action.

The results for the other actions taken to address the harassment (Q51) are as follows:

  • discussed the matter with their supervisor or a senior manager: 51%
  • discussed the matter with the person(s) from whom they experienced the harassment: 27%
  • contacted their union representative: 20%
  • resolved the matter informally on their own: 14%
  • used an informal conflict resolution process: 10%
  • contacted a human resources advisor in their department or agency: 8%
  • other: 11%

Reasons for not filing a grievance or formal complaint

Employees who indicated that they had been harassed on the job in the past 12 months but did not file a grievance or formal complaint about the harassment were asked to indicate the reason(s) for not doing so (Q52). The following are the most frequently cited reasons:

  • did not believe it would make a difference: 56%
  • afraid of reprisal: 47%
  • concerns about the formal complaint process: 30%
  • did not think the incident was serious enough: 19%
  • issue was resolved: 11%
  • respondent changed jobs: 10%
  • too distraught: 12%

Satisfaction with organization’s response to harassment and efforts to prevent it

Table 16 shows the 2018 results for the questions about employees’ opinions on how their organization responds to and prevents harassment in the workplace. It also shows the results for these questions over time, when applicable.

Table 16: Results for questions about satisfaction with organization’s response to harassment and efforts to prevent it (2011, 2014, 2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)
2018
(%)

Table 16 Notes

Table 16 Note 1

Question was not asked

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53 I am satisfied with how matters related to harassment are resolved in my department or agency. table 16 note * 50 50 48
54 My department or agency works hard to create a workplace that prevents harassment. 72 64 66 66
  • 48% of employees agreed that they are satisfied with how matters related to harassment are resolved in their organization (Q53), a slight decrease from 2017 and 2014 (50% in both years). 23% of employees responded “Don’t know”.
  • 66% of employees felt that their organization works hard to create a workplace that prevents harassment (Q54), unchanged from 2017 and a slight increase from 2014 (64%). 7% of employees responded “Don’t know”.

Discrimination

8% of employees indicated that they have been the victim of discrimination on the job in the past 12 months (Q55).

Until 2018, the PSES was conducted every 3 years and asked employees whether they had experienced discrimination on the job in the previous 2 years. In 2018, the PSES became an annual survey. Employees are now asked whether they have experienced discrimination on the job in the previous 12 months. Because the questions refer to different timeframes, the 2018 results for discrimination cannot be compared with the results from previous surveys.

Sources of discrimination

Employees who indicated that they had been discriminated against on the job in the past 12 months reported the following as the source(s) of the discrimination (Q56):

  • co-workers: 36%
  • individuals with authority over them: 77%
  • individuals working for them: 4%
  • individuals for whom they have custodial responsibility: 4%
  • individuals from other departments or agencies: 7%
  • members of the public: 9%
  • other: 8%

Types of discrimination

Employees who indicated that they had been discriminated against on the job in the past 12 months were asked to indicate the type of discrimination they experienced (Q57). The following are the most frequently cited types:

  • sex: 29%
  • age: 26%
  • race: 25%
  • national or ethnic origin: 20%
  • disability: 17%
  • family status: 15%

Actions taken to address discrimination

Of the 8% of employees who indicated that they had been the victim of discrimination, 6% filed a grievance or formal complaint. 49% of employees took no action.

The results for the other actions taken to address the discrimination (Q58) are as follows:

  • discussed the matter with their supervisor or a senior manager: 29%
  • contacted their union representative: 17%
  • discussed the matter with the person(s) from whom they experienced the discrimination: 15%
  • resolved the matter informally on their own: 9%
  • used an informal conflict resolution process: 4%
  • contacted a human resources advisor in their department or agency: 5%
  • other: 9%

Reasons for not filing a grievance or formal complaint

Employees who indicated that they had been discriminated against on the job in the past 12 months but did not file a grievance or formal complaint about the discrimination were asked to indicate the reason(s) for not doing so (Q59). The following are the most frequently cited reasons:

  • did not believe it would make a difference: 64%
  • afraid of reprisal: 45%
  • concerns about the formal complaint process: 27%
  • did not think the incident was serious enough: 13%
  • too distraught: 11%
  • advised against filing a complaint: 9%
  • did not know what to do, where to go or whom to ask: 11%

Satisfaction with organization’s response to discrimination and efforts to prevent it

Table 17 shows the 2018 results for the questions about employees’ opinions on how their organization responds to and prevents discrimination in the workplace. It also shows the results for these questions over time, when applicable.

Table 17: Results for questions about satisfaction with organization’s response to discrimination and efforts to prevent it (2011, 2014, 2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)
2018
(%)

Table 17 Notes

Table 17 Note 1

Question was not asked

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60 I am satisfied with how matters related to discrimination are resolved in my department or agency. table 17 note * 55 56 53
61 My department or agency works hard to create a workplace that prevents discrimination. 77 70 72 69
  • 53% of employees agreed that they are satisfied with how matters related to discrimination are resolved in their organization (Q60), a decrease from 2017 (56%) and a slight decrease from 2014 (55%). 26% of employees responded “Don’t know”.
  • 69% of employees felt that their organization works hard to create a workplace that prevents discrimination (Q61), a decrease from 2017 (72%) and similar to 2014 (70%). 10% of employees responded “Don’t know”.

Workplace well-being

Psychologically healthy workplace

Table 18 shows the results for the questions related to a psychologically healthy workplace. These questions were asked for the first time in 2017.

Table 18: Results for questions about psychologically healthy workplace (2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2017
(%)
2018
(%)
25 My immediate supervisor seems to care about me as a person. 80 80
65 My department or agency does a good job of raising awareness of mental health in the workplace. 67 71
66 I would describe my workplace as being psychologically healthy. 56 59
  • 80% of employees indicated that their immediate supervisor seems to care about them as a person (Q25), unchanged from 2017.
  • 71% of employees agreed that their organization does a good job of raising awareness of mental health in the workplace (Q65), an increase from 2017 (67%).
  • 59% of employees agreed that they would describe their workplace as being psychologically healthy (Q66), an improvement from 2017 (56%).

Level of work-related stress and emotional exhaustion

Table 19 shows the results for the questions related to work-related stress and emotional exhaustion. These questions were asked for the first time in 2017.

Table 19: Results for questions about the level of work-related stress and emotional exhaustion (2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2017
(%)
2018
(%)
63 Overall, my level of work-related stress is… (High or Very high) 20 19
64 After my workday, I feel emotionally drained. 29 30
  • 19% of employees indicated that, overall, their level of work-related stress is “High” or “Very high” (Q63), similar to 2017 (20%).
  • 30% of employees indicated that they “Always/Almost always” or “Often” feel emotionally drained after their workday (Q64), similar to 2017 (29%).

Causes of work-related stress

Table 20 shows the results for the question about the causes of stress at work. This question was asked for the first time in 2017.

Table 20: Results for question about causes of stress at work (2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2017
(%)
2018
(%)

Table 20 Notes

Table 20 Note 1

Question was not asked

Return to table 20 note * referrer

62 Overall, to what extent do the following factors cause you stress at work?
a. Pay or other compensation-related issues 34 32
b. Heavy workload 26 27
c. Unreasonable deadlines 21 21
d. Not enough employees to do the work 32 32
e. Overtime or long work hours 11 11
f. Balancing work and personal life 19 20
g. Lack of control or input in decision-making 18 17
h. Competing or constantly changing priorities 22 22
i. Lack of clear expectations 19 19
j. Information overload 18 18
k. Physical work environment 9 10
l. Accessibility or accommodation issues table 20 note * 6
m. Harassment or discrimination 8 9
n. Issue(s) with my co-worker(s) 7 7
o. Issue(s) with individual(s) with authority over me 11 12
p. Issue(s) with individual(s) working for me 4 4
q. Issue(s) with other individual(s) (e.g., members of the public, individuals from other departments or agencies) 4 4
r. Lack of job security 10 10
s. Personal issues 6 7

Compensation

Again in 2018, the PSES included questions about issues related to compensation and the Phoenix pay system.

Types of issues

70% of respondents indicated that their pay or compensation has been affected to some extent by issues related to Phoenix (Q67), similar to 2017 (69%).

Those employees reported the following issues (Q68):

  • missing regular pay: 23%, similar to 2017 (22%)
  • underpayment of regular pay: 35%, similar to 2017 (34%)
  • overpayment of regular pay: 23%, an increase from 2017 (18%)
  • incorrect or missing acting pay, overtime pay, or other related extra duty pay: 44%, a decrease from 2017 (47%)
  • incorrect or missing pay relating to a disability, maternity, or parental leave: 7%, similar to 2017 (6%)
  • incorrect or missing retroactive pay : 33%
  • other: 34%, a large decrease from 2017 (40%)

Time spent resolving issues

The following provides a breakdown of the estimated time spent, at work or outside of work, by the 70% of employees who indicated that they had experienced pay or other compensation issues, trying to resolve the issues (Q69).

  • 0 hours: 6%, similar to 2017 (7%)
  • 1 to 9 hours: 41%, a large decrease from 2017 (48%)
  • 10 to 19 hours: 19%, similar to 2017 (18%)
  • 20 to 29 hours: 11%, similar to 2017 (10%)
  • 30 to 39 hours: 5%, similar to 2017 (4%)
  • 40 hours or more: 19%, an increase from 2017(14%)

35% of employees indicated that all their pay issues have been resolved (Q70).

22% of employees indicated that issues with the Phoenix pay system have affected their decision to seek or accept another position within their organization or the federal public service “To a large extent” or “To a very large extent” (Q73).

Support to resolve pay or other compensation issues

Table 21 shows the 2018 PSES results for the questions related to support to resolve pay or other compensation issues.

Table 21: Results for questions about support to resolve pay or other compensation issues (2017 and 2018)
Question
number
Question 2017
(%)
2018
(%)
71 I am satisfied with the support (e.g., regular information, follow-up, making enquiries on my behalf, offering emergency or priority pay) I received from my department or agency to help resolve my pay or other compensation issues. 36 36
72 I am satisfied with the support I received from the Pay Centre to help resolve my pay or other compensation issues. 16 19

Of the 57% of employees who indicated that their pay or other compensation has been affected by issues with the Phoenix pay system:

  • 36% were satisfied with the support they received from their organization to help resolve these issues (Q71), unchanged from 2017
  • 19% were satisfied with the support they received from the Pay Centre to help resolve these issues (Q72), an improvement from 2017 (16%)

Methodology

Target population

The survey targeted active employees of organizations in the core public administration and of participating separate agencies listed in Schedules I, IV and V of the Financial Administration Act. Indeterminate, term, seasonal, casual and student employees, as well as Governor in Council appointees were eligible to participate in the survey. Minister’s exempt staff, contracted individuals and employees on leave without pay were not eligible to participate. This survey was conducted as a voluntary census of the target population.

A total of 84 departments and agencies participated in the 2018 PSES survey. Of the 282,615 employees eligible to participate, 163,121 responded to the survey, for an overall response rate of 57.7%. Of all respondents, 93.3% participated online and 0.7% submitted paper questionnaires.

Questionnaire design

The 2018 survey questionnaire contained 91 questions.

To test new 2018 PSES content, in March 2018, 6 focus group sessions were conducted in the National Capital Region, 3 in English and 3 in French. Participants were from various departments and agencies, and various occupational groups and levels.

The 2018 PSES questionnaire was designed as an electronic survey that respondents could complete online. It was also made available as a paper questionnaire and via a telephone interview.

Data collection

The Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer contracted Advanis, a private sector service provider, to administer the survey.

The survey was conducted from August 20, 2018, to October 5, 2018. Originally designed as a 6-week survey, it was extended by 1 week because of technical issues. Paper questionnaires were accepted until November 2, 2018.

Data collection was primarily done using an electronic questionnaire. Departments and agencies were responsible for providing a complete list of email addresses for their employees.

Employees who did not have email addresses or access to the Internet received paper questionnaires, which were distributed through the human resources service of their department or agency. These employees returned their questionnaires directly to Advanis in postage-paid return envelopes.

Employees who wanted to do so, could complete the survey by means of a telephone interview.

Confidentiality

Underthe Privacy Act, Advanis is required to protect the confidentiality of responses to this survey.

Only results at aggregated levels were published or shared in datasets. Aggregated results were suppressed for groups with low respondent counts. For all questions, results were suppressed for groups with fewer than 10 respondents.

For questions and sub-questions related to being a victim of harassment or discrimination,Footnote 2 an additional suppression rule was applied for groups with a low respondent count for any response category. For these questions, results were suppressed when there were 1 to 4 respondents for any response category.

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