Highlights: 2019 Public Service Employee Survey

Participation in the 2019 Public Service Employee Survey (PSES):

The following sections contain highlights of results from the 2019 PSES, organized by 6 themes:

Employee engagement

A majority of employees are engaged in their work and in their organization. Overall, the 2019 indicators of engagement are similar to those from 2018. In 2019:

  • 81% of employees indicated that they like their job, higher than in 2018 (80%); 
  • 76% of employees reported that they get a sense of satisfaction from their work, higher than in 2018 (75%);
  • 71% of employees indicated that they are satisfied with their department or agency, higher than in 2018 (68%);
  • 70% of employees indicated that they would recommend their department or agency as a great place to work, higher than in 2018 (67%); and
  • 68% of employees felt valued at work, higher than in 2018 (66%).

Leadership

Perceptions of both immediate supervisors and senior management have shown notable improvement compared to 2018.

  • 79% of employees indicated that they are satisfied with the quality of supervision they receive, higher than in 2018 (75%); and
  • 62% of employees indicated that they have confidence in senior management, higher than in 2018 (58%).

Workforce

Performance management

Overall, results related to performance management are higher than in 2018. In 2019:

  • 74% of employees indicated that they have clear work objectives, higher than in 2018 (71%); and
  • 65% of employees indicated that they receive meaningful recognition for work well done, higher than in 2018 (60%).

Career development

The 2019 results show that employees feel slightly less positive about training, however more positive about support for their career development than they did in 2018. In 2019:

  • 69% of employees felt that they get the training needed to do their job, lower than in 2018 (70%);
  • 57% of employees felt that their organization does a good job of supporting employee career development, higher than in 2018 (53%); and
  • 52% of employees believed they have the opportunity for promotion in their department or agency, given their education, skills and experience, higher than in 2018 (48%).
  • Employees identified the following top factors that adversely affected their career progress in the public service in the past 12 months (new question in 2019):
    • Lack of opportunities in their region (20%);
    • Lack of access to developmental programs (16%);
    • Lack of access to learning opportunities (12%); and   
    • Lack of access to language training in their second official language (12%).

Empowerment

Results relating to empowerment are notably more positive than in 2018. In 2019:

  • 72% of employees believed that they have support at work to provide a high level of service, higher than in 2018 (67%); and
  • 63% of employees felt they would be supported by their department or agency if they proposed a new idea, higher than in 2018 (57%).

Workplace

Work-life balance and workload

The 2019 results on work-life balance and workload are slightly higher compared to previous survey years. In 2019:

  • 82% of employees indicated that subject to operational requirements, their immediate supervisor supports the use of flexible work arrangements, higher than in 2017 (80%) (this question was not asked in 2018); and
  • 77% of employees felt that they have support at work to balance their work and personal life, higher than in 2018 (76%).

Organizational performance

The survey asked employees whether the quality of their work suffers as a result of certain factors. An overall improvement was observed in 2019, for example:

  • 38% of employees indicated that the quality of their work suffers because of overly complicated or unnecessary business processes, compared to 42% in 2018; and
  • 36% of employees indicated that the quality of their work suffers because of having to do the same or more work but with fewer resources, compared to 42% in 2018.

In 2019, a new question about change management was added: 50% of employees indicated that they feel change is managed well in their department or agency.

Respectful workplace

The 2019 results on respectful workplace are mixed, although most employees believe that their workplace is respectful. In 2019:

  • 82% of employees felt that their organization treats them with respect, and higher than in 2018 (81%);
  • 79% of employees felt that their co-workers value their ideas and opinions, higher than in 2018 (77%); and
  • 75 % of employees believe that their organization respects individual differences (e.g., culture, work styles, ideas), lower than 2018 (78%).

Ethical workplace

Compared with 2018, the 2019 results pertaining to ethics in the workplace were more positive or unchanged:

  • 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, unchanged from 2018 (71%), and
  • 64% of employees indicated that they are satisfied with how interpersonal issues are resolved in their work unit, higher than in 2018 (59%).

Use of official languages

Questions regarding the use of official languages were not asked in 2018. The results in 2019 are similar to those in 2017.

  • 93% of employees indicated that when they communicate with their immediate supervisor, they feel free to use the official languages of their choice, unchanged from 2017 (93%);
  • 87% of employees indicated that when they prepare written materials, including emails, they feel free to use the official language of their choice, compared to 86% in 2017; and
  • 72% of employees felt that senior managers in their organization use both official languages in their interactions with employees (new question in 2019).

Harassment

In 2019, 14% of employees indicated that they had been the victim of harassment on the job in the past 12 months, lower than in 2018 (15%).

  • Individuals with authority (60%) and co-workers (51%) were the most frequently cited sources of harassment;
  • Offensive remarks (55%), unfair treatment (49%), and being excluded or ignored (47%) were the most common types of harassment experienced;
  • 7% of the employees who indicated that they had been harassed filed a grievance or formal complaint, and 26% took no action; and
  • 18% of employees indicated that they had directly witnessed harassment on the job in the past 12 months (new question in 2019).

Discrimination

In 2019, 8% of employees indicated that they had been the victim of discrimination on the job in the past 12 months, unchanged from 2018 (8%).

  • Individuals with authority (76%) and co-workers (38%) were the most frequently cited sources of discrimination;
  • Sex (29%), age (29%) and race (26%) were the most common types of discrimination experienced;
  • 6% of employees who indicated that they had been discriminated against filed a grievance or formal complaint, and 49% took no action; and
  • 10% of employees indicated that they had directly witnessed discrimination on the job in the past 12 months (new question in 2019).

Duty to accommodate

Questions regarding duty to accommodate were not asked in 2018. In 2019:

  • 16% of employees indicated that they have requested measures to accommodate their needs in the workplace in the last two years, compared to 17% in 2017; and
  • Of those who indicated that measures were taken to accommodate their needs, 80% indicated that they are satisfied with the measures that were taken to accommodate their needs, lower than 2017 (82%).

Workplace well-being

For the most part, the 2019 results relating to workplace well-being were similar to or better than those for 2018.

Psychological health of workplace

  • 83% of employees indicated that their immediate supervisor seems to care about them as a person, higher than in 2018 (80%);
  • 73% of employees indicated that their organization does a good job of raising awareness of mental health in the workplace, higher than in 2018 (71%);
  • 68% of supervisors said that they are equipped to support employees in their work unit who are experiencing mental health issues (new question in 2019);and
  • 61% of employees described their workplace as being psychologically healthy, higher than in 2018 (59%).

Work-related stress

  • 17% of employees indicated that they have high or very high levels of work-related stress, lower than in 2018 (19%);
  • 29% of employees felt emotionally drained after their workday, lower than 2018 (30%);
  • Top sources of stress at work:
    • not enough employees to do the work (29%) lower than in 2018 (32%)
    • pay or other compensation-related issues (28%), lower than in 2018 (32%)
  • Other prevalent causes of stress include:
    • heavy workload (24%), lower than in 2018 (27%);
    • competing or constantly changing priorities (19%), lower than in 2018 (22%);
    • unreasonable deadlines (17%), lower than in 2018 (21%); and
    • balancing work and personal life (17%), lower than in 2018 (20%).

Compensation

Although there has been some improvement in employee responses to compensation related questions, the 2019 results on compensation are mixed.

  • 74% of employees indicated that their pay or other compensation has been affected by issues with the Phoenix pay system, higher than in 2018 (70%);

    Of those who indicated that their pay or other compensation had been affected from “a small extent” to “a very large extent”:

    • 59%  indicated that they have experienced new pay or compensation issues in the last 12 months (new question in 2019);
    • 25%  indicated that they were satisfied with the support they received from the Pay Centre to help resolve those issues, higher than in 2018 (19%); and
  • 20% of employees felt that issues with the Phoenix pay system affected their decision, “to a large extent” or “to a very large extent”, to seek or accept another position within their organization or the federal public service, lower than in 2018 (22%).

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