The Yukon government’s senior managers received scathing reviews from staff in the second annual employee-engagement survey.
“I used to be proud to be a member of my department,” one employee wrote. “With the current senior management I am embarrassed. They have repeatedly made bad decisions, hired unqualified people and created the most top-heavy department I have seen while compromising service delivery.”
“People are voting with their feet and leaving.”
The survey, which draws on comments from 1,881 employees, was conducted by the polling firm Ipsos-Reid earlier this year.
It builds on a smaller survey that was conducted in 2007.
Employees have become less engaged in the past year, it concludes.
The overall engagement score dropped to 60 per cent this year, from 64 per cent in 2007.
The biggest gripes had to do with recognition of good work, the fairness of hiring and promotion practices and the performance of senior management.
Confidence in senior management dropped to 47 per cent from 54 per cent the year before, the survey found.
And fewer people agree that essential information flows effectively from senior leadership to staff: 36 per cent agreed this year, from 43 per cent in 2007.
Large numbers of employees disagreed with other statements put to them concerning senior staff.
Asked if senior leadership effectively communicates changing priorities, 37 per cent agreed, 30 per cent disagreed and 27 per cent remained neutral.
Others took a dim view to how their work performance is evaluated.
“I have been here eight years and have never had an employee performance evaluation!!” wrote another employee. “Unfortunately I’m at the point now where I don’t have any enthusiasm left for the job, have not learned anything new for years, and am here just to collect a good paycheque, benefit, etc. and do only what work needs to be done until I can afford to retire (hopefully five years, 10 years max).”
On the question of whether an employee’s department does a good job recognizing its workers, 37 per cent agreed, 32 disagreed, with 28 per cent remaining neutral.
“There is little to no recognition from anyone above me for a job well done,” an employee wrote.
Opinion is evenly split as to whether promotions are “fair and free from favouritism,” with 29 per cent saying yes, 29 per cent saying no, and 19 per cent remaining neutral.
Many also feel that hiring is not based on merit: 32 per cent agree it is, 28 per cent disagree, and 21 per cent remained neutral.
Political meddling in the civil service was also noted in comments volunteered by workers.
“Our unit is becoming stagnant,” an employee wrote. “The morale is low and getting lower. This is due in part to poor management, politics and political correctness over-riding common sense and operational needs.
“I feel our unit is becoming a government pawn with a few flashy headlines, but no real will for us to get the job done.”
Another employee complained of “how political things are in the broader department and how politicians can affect/comment on the running of the service.”
The engagement of Yukon government workers sits lower than elsewhere in the country, the survey finds.
The average score reported in other jurisdictions is 63 per cent, while the Yukon received 57 per cent.
If senior leadership takes a hit in the survey, the upswing is that most government employees get along with their direct supervisors and coworkers.
And most workers feel their jobs fit their skills and interests, and make a meaningful contribution to the public.
In the legislature, the NDP seized on the report as evidence that the Yukon Party is doing a poor job running the government.
“The report reveals the deplorable state of worker morale,” said Steve Cardiff, MLA for Mount Lorne, on Thursday.
“It’s something we’ve known for a long time.”
Patrick Rouble, the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, which called for the report, sees it differently.
The government has “already incorporated many of the comments — good and bad — brought forward in this report on how they will go about doing the public’s business,” said Rouble.
“We value what the employees have to say — that’s why we asked them these questions.”