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Public sector dragging productivity chain - report

JOSH MARTIN
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2014

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Government workers are costing taxpayers $280 million a year in lost productivity, but staff say it is all the bosses' fault, according to a new report.

Advisory firm EY's Productivity Pulse survey found 52 per cent of public sector workers fell below the national productivity average.

But public sector workers were also significantly more likely than private sector workers to agree that "poor planning by management has negatively impacted productivity recently".

Only a fifth of public sector workers were satisfied with their manager and half reported cost-cutting or redundancies in the first half of 2013, which may have undermined performance.

EY government and public sector leader Alan Judge said care was needed in times of re-organisation not to lose high performers. "Unless managed carefully and strategically, the very process of reducing jobs will block gains in productivity.

"We have to ask ourselves why the public sector isn't yielding as many workers who consider themselves as satisfied or productive as other workers," Judge said.

He said motivation was key to lifting productivity in the sector and that came down to management styles. "Managers need the skills to reward and give feedback to workers on their productivity."

The private sector was not immune from the productivity deficit, with only 27 per cent saying they are working at their lifetime best, although that is still more than the 22 per cent of government employees who said the same.

Public Service Association national secretary Richard Wagstaff disputed the $280m cost figure, saying improving productivity was always a goal for his organisation. The report surveyed nearly 750 employees, spanning five industries, across all levels.

THE PRESCRIPTION

EY recommendations for the public sector:

Empower managers to become more accountable for productivity gains

Strengthen employee relations to achieve outcomes

Resource for optimal productivity 


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