Nepotism alive and well in YTG workers’ minds

Most Yukon government workers continue to believe that the hiring and promotion of their peers has more to do with favouritism than merit.

Most Yukon government workers continue to believe that the hiring and promotion of their peers has more to do with favouritism than merit.

That’s according to the latest survey conducted by Ipsos-Reid, in the pollsters’ fourth annual effort to measure morale in the territorial bureaucracy.

“Hiring is not consistent or fair,” wrote one respondent. “It is far more important who you know, not what you do.

“My supervisor often tries to manipulate things to (his/her) advantage and many decisions are not made with the well-being of everyone in mind. My supervisor is often away. I do not trust the department I work for.”

The territory’s Public Service Commission has puzzled over the perception that nepotism is rife within government since 2008. That year it conducted an audit, which found that “hiring processes were transparent, that candidates were treated consistently and fairly and that selection decisions were communicated properly,” according to a release. “There was 100 per cent compliance with merit.”

The real problem, the commission concluded, is poor communication within government about how hiring and promotions are handled.

Perceptions of nepotism have slowly declined over the past two years, according to the surveys.

In 2010, 41 per cent of respondents agreed that hiring is based on merit. That’s the same result as last year, and an improvement over 2008’s results of 32 per cent.

And this year 34 per cent of respondents agreed promotions are fair and free of favouritism. That’s up from 33 per cent last year and 30 per cent in 2008.

While these upward ticks are heralded as meaningful, the commission dismisses downward trends within departments as “not significant statistically.” Six departments saw their employee engagement scores drop over the past year, while five departments saw their scores rise and three held steady.

Policy wonks with the Public Service Commission and beancounters in Finance continue to report being happiest in government. Meanwhile, the Justice Department continues to be one of the gloomiest corners of government, joined this year by Highways and Public Works, which is tied for last place.

The Department of Tourism saw the biggest reported drop in morale, with its score falling eight points, to 55 per cent. Three other bodies saw six-point drops: the Yukon Workers Compensation Health and Safety Board fell to 68 per cent; Health and Social Services slumped to 60 per cent; and Economic Development tumbled to 54 per cent.

Engagement slumped two points in the liquor, lottery and housing corporations, to 58 per cent. Education also fell two points to 58 per cent. And Highways and Public Works dropped a point to 52 per cent.

Morale rose two points in Environment, to 69 per cent, and in Community Services, to 58 per cent. Engagement grew one point in Finance, to 73 per cent, and in Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs, to 72 per cent.

And morale remained stable at three departments: the Public Service Commission, at 74 per cent; Energy, Mines and Resources, at 66 per cent; and Justice, at 52 per cent.

Across government, the engagement score remained stable at 60 per cent, where it’s sat since 2008. That’s below the average engagement score of 66 per cent, found across other jurisdictions in Canada.

The survey’s response rate was 52 per cent, up one point from last year. A total of 2,454 employees participated, compared to 2,308 last year.

The survey cost $76,000.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.

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