Demonstrating that Staff are Valued

Public Service Pay Guidance 2021

Every employee needs to know that good work is valued in their workplace. For employees to go the extra mile they need to know they are appreciated for the service they give, whether in management, backroom offices or the front line.

Valuing employees can be expressed by their employers in many ways. One is through financial recognition and reward; another is negotiating and agreeing terms and conditions tailored to the lives of employees; another is the quality of day-to-day management, demonstrated in daily, personal interactions, listening, taking time, noticing, expressing gratitude, supporting career development. There will be other ways that value can be expressed.

If public servants and their employers learn about a decision about their pay through the media, it is a shock. If public servants feel overworked, and are the very people now required to implement the significant reforms on the agenda, they could feel undervalued. If consultants supplement capacity at generous pay rates, it would rub salt in the wound.

Genuine care and attention can go some way towards expressing value. Such attention will already be demonstrated in public sector agencies, but its importance is now accentuated. It might include, for example:

  • recognising the signs of burn out early enough. Always having contingency plans, back up options so that no public servant - whatever their seniority, public-facing or in the back-room - carries a load that is not sustainable;
  • acknowledging excellent performance by finding ways of rewarding a staff member that is genuinely meaningful to them; and
  • If absolutely necessary, pushing back on the pace of change that is being demanded if it is evident that critical members of staff need more time, or additional expertise around them to deliver a quality result.

In the meantime, the unions are doing the job which they must do, which is to protect and promote the interests of their members.

Many public servants do their work for the intrinsic reward of being of service. Let’s never take this for granted.