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Employees could leave public sector as morale hits 'all-time' low, says research

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Senior management and frontline staff have lost their sense of pride in the public sector and are poised to leave, according to research by global management consultancy firm Hay Group.

The research found almost three-quarters (72%) of public sector workers do not feel proud to work in the sector and 70% said their morale is at an all-time low.

According to the research of 1,000 public sector employees 43% want to leave their current employer and 78% are planning to leave in the next three years.

Hay Group associate director in public sector consulting John Howarth said because the public sector has undergone a dramatic change over the past five years, leaders must act urgently to reinvigorate their employees. "If leaders fail to take action, they risk losing their most capable staff. And where talent goes, pride, morale and productivity are sure to follow," he said.

The research also found almost a third (32%) of senior managers who are looking to leave their organisation want to do so this year – higher than for any other job level.

Worryingly, 43% are planning to leave the public sector altogether, with 84% experiencing an all-time low in morale, the research found.

More than a quarter (27%) felt that public criticism is a significant barrier to feeling proud of the sector and 23% highlighted a lack of leadership.

The report suggested that in order to rebuild pride among public sector employees, leaders must ensure staff are supported and feel valued.

"During times of change it is a challenge to motivate and engage staff, uniting everyone behind a clear common vision," said Howarth.

"The good news for public sector leaders is that there is still a fundamental belief among employees that the sector exists to support and benefit the local community.

"To rebuild pride and drive engagement, leaders need to harness this sense of purpose – and follow through on all that they promise."