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Job insecurity up for all, but worse for public sector, says CIPD

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The economic downturn continues to erode workers’ standard of living and undermine job security, says the CIPD quarterly survey, while employee confidence and trust in senior leaders have dropped to record lows.

According to the CIPD's Spring 2011 Employee Outlook survey based on a representative sample of 2,000 people in employment in the UK, the proportion of employees saying their standard of living has worsened in the past six months has increased to 37%, from 31% in the previous quarter.

Public sector employees are most likely to say their standard of living has worsened (47%), compared with 35% of workers in both the private and voluntary sectors.

Although job insecurity has edged up since the previous quarter, with 21% of employees thinking it likely they could lose their jobs as a result of the downturn compared to 20% last quarter, there is again a big difference in the sectors.

Almost one in three (30%) public sector employees say it is likely they could lose their job, compared to 19% of those in the private sector and 27% in the voluntary sector. In all, 21% of respondents say their organisation is planning to make redundancies, rising to 58% among public sector respondents. In all, 29% of voluntary sector employees say their organisation is planning redundancies, as do 10% of those in the private sector.

The net proportion of employees agreeing they have confidence in their senior leaders has fallen to a record -31, from -23 for the previous quarter, while the net trust score has also fallen to -8 from -1 over the same period. These figures are calculated in the survey by subtracting the percentage of employees satisfied from the percentage dissatisfied.

Claire McCartney, CIPD resourcing and talent planning adviser, said: "The survey findings highlight the importance of senior leaders in organisations putting even more emphasis during tough times on how they communicate, consult and involve staff where major changes such as restructuring or redundancies are being proposed.

"Evidence suggests that where employees benefit from effective communication and feel their views matter and are taken into account before decisions are made, they are more likely to remain engaged in their work and committed to the organisation.

"The survey underlines the importance of the Employee Engagement Taskforce launched by David Cameron last month to support and encourage organisations in building the leadership and management capability needed to boost morale and increase the number of high performance workplaces."

On top of this, the proportion of staff looking for a new job with a new employer has increased to 24% from 19% for the previous quarter. As with last quarter, respondents from the public sector are least likely to be looking for a new job and those in the voluntary sector most likely to be doing so.

McCartney added: "The job satisfaction scores provide evidence once again of a fixed-grin effect, where workers tend to be more satisfied during tough times. This time, public sector workers display that 'fixed grin', with job satisfaction among this group considerably higher than private sector workers, despite or perhaps because of the turmoil being experienced by the sector. In these circumstances, it seems employees are more satisfied simply to have a job."