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Public and private both suffer ‘sector envy’, says research


The attitude of public sector employees to working in the private sector – and vice versa – has changed dramatically in the past 12 months, with the private sector now seen as a much more attractive potential employer by state workers.

The findings on 'sector envy' come in the second annual Attitudes to Work study 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.

Last year, just 18% of public sector staff said they found the idea of working in the private sector attractive. The figure now stands at 31%.

In addition, only 18% of private sector workers believe they fare worse for job security than their public sector counterparts, down from 32% last year.

The percentage of private sector employees who believe they work in a more stressful environment has fallen from 33% to 20%, whereas in the public sector the total has risen to 23%.

As in 2010, private sector staff are ahead in perceptions of pay and financial reward - while 35% of them think that the public sector is ahead on remuneration, 47% of public sector workers think they are worse off than the private sector. But a change in attitudes can be seen in terms of career development and progression. Although nearly a quarter (24%) of private sector workers feel they are worse off for prospects for promotion and progression, this is a considerable drop from 33%. In terms of training opportunities, the figure for the same group has fallen from 39% to 32%.

Jan Shury (pictured), joint managing director of IFF Research, said: "This is a substantial shift in attitudes in the course of a year. The formation of the Coalition Government and cuts to the public sector announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review, could have played their part. It may also be that the private sector has seen the worst of cutbacks to recruitment and that staff there now have a more positive outlook.


"However, it remains the case that more private sector workers find the idea of the public sector attractive, rather than the other way round. For example, private sector employees still feel that they are worse off for working hours, job flexibility and training opportunities."