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Despite budget cuts private sector staff think grass is greener in the public sector

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Private sector staff are envious of their public sector counterparts on issues including job security, training and workplace stress.

Two out of five (39%) private sector employees find the idea of working in the public sector attractive but fewer than half as many (18%) public sector staff would be prepared to work for a private employer, a new study reveals.

The findings on ‘sector envy' come from new research, Attitudes to Work, conducted by IFF Research. They outline the reasons why many public and private sector workers think the grass is greener on the other side and their motivations for wanting to seek employment elsewhere.  

Reports of public sector cuts aside, perceptions of job security are a big differentiator.  Whereas a third (32%) of private sector workers believe they are worse off for job security than their public sector counterparts, only 13% of state employees believe they have worse job security than private sector workers.

Opportunities to train are another significant factor influencing sector envy.  Although 39% of private sector employees feel they are worse off in this regard, only 18% of public sector employees believe this in comparison with private business.      

The public sector is also seen to excel in the stress-free stakes.  Although a fifth (20%) of state employees feel they are worse off for working in a stress-free environment than if in the other sector, 33% of private employees feel the same.

Only when considering pay and financial packages do public sector employees feel themselves to be worse off than if working in the private sector to any significant degree.  Even then, a third (33%) of private workers think the public sector has it better when it comes to remuneration.

Jan Shury, joint managing director of IFF Research, said: "Our research shows there is significant sector envy but it is not split evenly between state and private employees. Overall, public sector employment is seen as more attractive, even at a time when spending cuts are anticipated. What's interesting are the reasons why.


"We found very little difference between the sectors in views on the nature of the work they do, the atmosphere in the workplace or work-life balance.  But there are fundamental differences on key issues including pay and benefits, working hours and the perceived stress of the job.  It is important for employers to note these differences, and what motivates their staff, to ensure their workforce remains happy and isn't tempted to jump ship."