2017 Public Service Employee Annual Survey: Summary report of results for the overall public service

Purpose of report

This report contains a summary of the overall results for the first Public Service Employee Annual Survey (PSEAS). The results provide timely insight into employees’ opinions on various aspects of the workplace across the federal public service.

Background

The Public Service Employee Survey (PSES), which has been conducted every three years since 1999, has been the main mechanism for surveying federal public service employees about their opinions on people management practices.

In 2015, the Clerk of the Privy Council identified a need for more frequent surveys of employees to gather timelier data to inform people management practices. The Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, within the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, developed the PSEAS to meet that need. This short survey complements the more comprehensive PSES.

The 2017 PSEAS was conducted from February 27 to March 24, 2017.

Survey content

The 2017 PSEAS focuses on current government priorities and measures employees’ opinions on different aspects of employee engagement, as well as on diversity, harassment and discrimination. The survey results will support the Federal Public Service Mental Health Strategy and contribute to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Departmental Results Framework.

The 2017 PSEAS contained 34 questions:

  • 17 opinion questions, which consisted of:
    • 7  new questions
    • 10 questions repeated from the 2014 PSES, 4 of which were repeated from the 2011 PSES, and 3 of which were repeated from the 2008 PSES
  • 17 demographic questions

Overview of analytical approach

This report presents the 2017 PSEAS results for the overall public service and, when possible, compares them with the public service results for the previous two triennial employee surveys (the 2014 PSES and the 2011 PSES). Comparisons are possible only for questions that are identical to questions asked in previous surveys.

Throughout this report, question numbers are abbreviated as Q1, Q2, Q3, 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
  • “Yes” responses 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:

  • work‑related stress (Q12)
  • the feeling of being emotionally drained (Q13)
  • harassment (Q14 and Q15)
  • discrimination (Q16 and Q17)

Results

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

My workplace

Table 1 shows the 2017 PSEAS results for the questions in the My workplace section. It also shows the 2011 and 2014 PSES results for these questions, when applicable.

Table 1: Results for questions about the workplace: 2011 and 2014 PSES and 2017 PSEAS
Question
number
Question Public service
PSES PSEAS
2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)

Table 1 Notes

Table 1 Note 1

*Not applicable, question was not asked

Return to table 1 note * referrer

1 My department or agency implements activities and practices that support a diverse workplace. n/atable 1 note * 79 81
2 Overall, my department or agency treats me with respect. 76 79 75
3 I am encouraged to be innovative or to take initiative in my work. n/a 63 66
4 I believe I would be supported if I proposed a new idea, even though it might not work. n/a n/a 59
5 I have support at work to balance my work and personal life. 75 71 72
6 I am satisfied with my department or agency. 65 64 65
7 Overall, I like my job. 82 79 78

Diversity

  • 81% of employees believed that their organization implements activities and practices that support a diverse workplace (Q1), a slight increase from the 2014 PSES (79%).

Respect

  • 75% of employees felt that their organization treats them with respect (Q2), a decrease from the 2014 PSES (79%) and similar to the 2011 PSES (76%).

Innovation

  • 66% of employees felt that they are encouraged to be innovative or to take initiative in their work (Q3), an improvement from the 2014 PSES (63%).
  • 59% of employees believed that they would be supported if they proposed a new idea, even though it might not work (Q4).

Work-life balance

  • 72% of public service employees felt that they have support at work to balance their work and personal life (Q5), similar to the 2014 PSES results (71%) and a decrease from the 2011 PSES results (75%).

Employee engagement

  • 65% of employees indicated that they are satisfied with their organization (Q6), similar to the 2014 PSES results (64%) and unchanged from the 2011 PSES results (65%).
  • 78% of employees indicated that they like their job (Q7), similar to the 2014 PSES results (79%) and a decrease from the 2011 PSES results (82%).

Workplace well-being

According to the 2016, Federal Public Service Workplace Mental Health Strategy, “A healthy workplace is essential to the physical and psychological health of all public service employees, as it enables them to bring the best of their diverse talents, skills and energy as they deliver services to Canadians.”

Table 2 shows the 2017 PSEAS results for the questions in the Workplace well-being section.

Table 2: Results for questions about workplace well-being
Question
number
Question Public service
PSES PSEAS
2011
(%)
2014
(%)
2017
(%)

Table 2 Notes

Table 2 Note 1

*Not applicable, question was not asked

Return to table 2 note * referrer

8 My immediate supervisor creates an environment where I feel free to discuss with him or her matters that affect my well-being at work. n/atable 2 note * n/a 79
9 My immediate supervisor seems to care about me as a person. n/a n/a 79
10 I would describe my workplace as being psychologically healthy. n/a n/a 60
11 My department or agency does a good job of raising awareness of mental health in the workplace. n/a n/a 65
12 Overall, my level of work-related stress is… (high or very high) n/a n/a 34
13 After my workday, I feel emotionally drained. n/a n/a 33

Psychologically healthy workplace

  • 79% of employees agreed that their immediate supervisor creates an environment where they feel free to discuss matters that affect their well-being at work (Q8).
  • 79% of employees felt that their immediate supervisor seems to care about them as a person (Q9).
  • 60% of employees indicated that they would describe their workplace as being psychologically healthy (Q10).
  • 65% of employees felt that their organization does a good job of raising awareness of mental health in the workplace (Q11).

Work-related stress

  • 34% of employees indicated that, overall, their level of work-related stress is “Very high” or “High” (Q12).
  • 33% of employees indicated that they “Always / Almost always” or “Often” feel emotionally drained after their workday (Q13).

Harassment

According to the 2017 PSEAS, 22% of employees indicated that they have been the victim of harassment on the job in the past 2 years (Q14), an increase from the 2014 PSES (19%).

Sources of harassment

The 22% of employees who indicated that they have been the victim of harassment indicated the following sources of harassment (Q15):

  • Co-workers: 50%
  • Individuals with authority over them: 64%
  • Individuals working for them: 7%
  • Individuals for whom they have custodial responsibility: 5%
  • Individuals from other departments or agencies: 6%
  • Members of the public: 10%

Discrimination

The 2017 PSEAS shows that 12% of employees indicated that they have been the victim of discrimination on the job in the past 2 years (Q16), an increase from the 2014 PSES result (8%).

Sources of discrimination

The 12% of employees who indicated that they have been the victim of discrimination indicated the following sources of discrimination (Q17):

  • Co-workers: 36%
  • Individuals with authority over them: 79%
  • Individuals working for them: 4%
  • Individuals for whom they have custodial responsibility: 4%
  • Individuals from other departments or agencies: 8%
  • Members of the public: 9%

Appendix: Methodology

Questionnaire design

All of the questions in the PSEAS were included in the focus testing of the questions that will be asked in the 2017 PSES. Statistics Canada conducted the testing in October and November 2016.

The 2017 PSEAS questionnaire was designed as an electronic survey that respondents could complete online. It was also made available as a paper questionnaire and via telephone interview.

Data collection

The Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer contracted EKOS Research Associates Inc. to administer the 2017 PSEAS and to collect and tabulate the responses. The survey was conducted from February 27 to March 24, 2017. Paper questionnaires were accepted until April 7, 2017.

A total of 74 departments and agencies participated in the 2017 PSEAS, representing more than 95% of the federal public service population.

Of the 249,764 employees eligible to participate, 129,997 responded to the survey, for a response rate of 52.0%. Of all respondents, 128,905 (99.2%) participated online, 1,059 (0.8%) submitted paper questionnaires, and 33 (less than 0.1%) participated via phone interviews.

Data confidentiality

Under the Privacy Act, EKOS Research Associates Inc. must protect the confidentiality of responses to this survey during data collection and when tabulating results. 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 the questions about harassment and discrimination, an additional suppression rule was applied when there were fewer than 5 responses for any response category.

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