Highlights: 2018 Public Service Employee Survey

Participation in the 2018 Public Service Employee Survey (PSES):

  • In total, 84 participating departments and agencies;
  • 291,854 employees invited to respond;
  • 163,121 responses received;
  • The response rate was 57.7% (61.3% in 2017).

The following sections contain highlights of results from the 2018 PSES, organized by 6 themes:

  • employee engagement;
  • leadership;
  • workforce;
  • workplace;
  • workplace well-being; and
  • compensation.

Employee engagement

A majority of employees are engaged in their work and in their organization, and the 2018 results for most indicators of engagement have changed little since 2017. For example, in 2018:

  • 80% of employees indicated that they like their job, unchanged from 2017;
  • 75% of employees reported that they get a sense of satisfaction from their work, slightly lower than in 2017 (77%);
  • 68% of employees indicated that they are satisfied with their department or agency, unchanged from 2017; and
  • 66% of employees reported feeling valued at work, similar to 2017 (65%).

Leadership

As observed in previous surveys, employees tend to have more positive perceptions of their immediate supervisor than they do of their senior management. Perceptions of both immediate supervisors and senior management have changed little since 2017. In 2018:

  • 76% of employees indicated that they can count on their supervisor to keep his or her promises (77% in 2017); and
  • 58% of employees indicated they have confidence in senior management (57% in 2017).

Workforce

Performance management

Overall, the 2018 results relating to performance management are similar to the 2017 results, for example, in 2018:

  • 60% of employees indicated that they receive meaningful recognition for work well done (61% in 2017); and
  • 73% of employees indicated that they receive useful feedback on their job performance, unchanged from 2017.

Career development

Based on the 2018 results, employees feel more positive about training but less positive about support for their career development than they did in 2017. In 2018:

  • 70% of employees felt that they get the training needed to do their job, an improvement from 2017 (66%); and
  • 53% of employees felt that their organization does a good job of supporting employee career development, a decrease from 2017 (57%).

Empowerment

Results relating to empowerment have decreased slightly since 2017. In 2018:

  • 67% of employees believed that they have support at work to provide a high level of service (69% in 2017); and
  • 65% of employees indicated that they have opportunities to provide input into decisions that affect their work (67% in 2017).

Workplace

Work-life balance and workload

The 2018 results were mixed for questions about work-life balance and workload compared with 2017. In 2018:

  • 76% of employees felt that they have support at work to balance their work and personal life, a slight increase from 2017 (74%); and
  • 70% of employees reported that they can complete their assigned workload during their regular working hours, a decrease from 2017 (73%).

Organizational performance

The survey asked employees whether the quality of their work suffers as a result of 6 factors. In 2018, employees were just as likely as or about as likely as they were in 2017 to indicate that the quality of their work suffers because of these factors. For example:

  • 43% of employees indicated that the quality of their work suffers because of too many approval stages, unchanged from 2017;
  • 42% of employees indicated that the quality of their work suffers because of having to do the same or more work but with fewer resources (41% in 2017); and
  • 42% of employees indicated that the quality of their work suffers because of overly complicated or unnecessary business processes (41% in 2017).

Respectful workplace

Most employees believe that their workplace is respectful. The 2018 results relating to respect in the workplace were similar to or slightly better than the 2017 results. For example:

  • 81% of employees believed that individuals in their work unit behave in a respectful manner, similar to 2017 (80%);
  • 81% of employees felt that their organization treats them with respect, similar to 2017 (80%); and
  • 78% of employees indicated that their organization implements activities and practices that support a diverse workplace, a slight increase from 2017 (76%).

77% of employees felt that their co-workers value their ideas and opinions (new question in 2018).

Ethical workplace

Compared with 2017, the 2018 results pertaining to ethics in the workplace were less positive or unchanged. For example, in 2018:

  • 71% of employees indicated that they would know where to go for help in resolving the situation if they were faced with an ethical dilemma or a conflict between values in the workplace (74% in 2017);
  • 59% of employees indicated that they are satisfied with how interpersonal issues are resolved in their work unit (62% in 2017); and
  • 48% of employees indicated that they feel that they can initiate a formal recourse process (for example, grievance, complaint, appeal) without fear of reprisal, unchanged from 2017.

Harassment

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.

In 2018, 15% of employees indicated that they had been the victim of harassment on the job in the past 12 months.

  • Individuals with authority (62%) and co-workers (51%) were the most frequently cited sources of harassment;
  • Offensive remarks (56%), unfair treatment (48%), and being excluded or ignored (46%) were the most common types of harassment experienced; and
  • 7% of the employees who indicated that they had been harassed filed a grievance or formal complaint, and 27% took no action.

Discrimination

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.

In 2018, 8% of employees indicated that they had been the victim of discrimination on the job in the past 12 months.

  • Individuals with authority (77%) and co-workers (36%) were the most frequently cited sources of discrimination;
  • Sex (29%), age (26%) and race (25%) were the most common types of discrimination experienced; and
  • 6% of employees who indicated that they had been discriminated against filed a grievance or formal complaint, and 49% took no action.

Workplace well-being

For the most part, the 2018 results relating to workplace well-being were similar to or better than those for 2017.

Psychological health of workplace

  • 71% of employees indicated that their organization does a good job of raising awareness of mental health in the workplace, an improvement from 2017 (67%).
  • 59% of employees described their workplace as being psychologically healthy, an improvement from 2017 (56%).

Work-related stress

  • 19% of employees indicated that they have high or very high levels of work‑related stress, similar to 2017 (20%).
  • 30% of employees felt emotionally drained after their workday, similar to 2017 (29%).
  • Top sources of stress at work:
    • pay or other compensation-related issues (32%), slightly lower than in  2017 (34%); and
    • not enough employees to do the work (32%), unchanged from 2017.
  • Other prevalent causes of stress include:
    • heavy workload (27%), similar to 2017 (26%);
    • competing or constantly changing priorities (22%), unchanged from 2017;
    • unreasonable deadlines (21%), unchanged from 2017; and
    • balancing work and personal life (20%), similar to 2017 (19%).

Compensation

  • 70% of employees indicated that their pay or other compensation has been affected by issues with the Phoenix pay system, similar to 2017 (69%).
  • 22% of employees felt that issues with the Phoenix pay system affected their decision to seek or accept another position. (new question in 2018)
  • 19% of employees indicated that they were satisfied with the support they received from the Pay Centre to help resolve those issues, an improvement from 2017 (16%).
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