OECD Public Governance Reviews

2219-0414 (online)
2219-0406 (print)
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This series includes international studies and country-specific reviews of government efforts to make the public sector more efficient, effective, innovative and responsive to citizens’ needs and expectations. Publications in this series look at topics such as open government, preventing corruption and promoting integrity in the public service, risk management, illicit trade, audit institutions, and civil service reform. Country-specific reviews assess a public administration’s ability to achieve government objectives and preparedness to address current and future challenges. In analysing how a country's public administration works, reviews focus on cross-departmental co-operation, the relationships between levels of government and with citizens and businesses, innovation and quality of public services, and the impact of information technology on the work of government and its interaction with businesses and citizens.


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Engaging Public Employees for a High-Performing Civil Service

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14 Nov 2016
9789264267190 (PDF) ;9789264267183(print)

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How can governments reduce workforce costs while ensuring civil servants remain engaged and productive? This report addresses this question, using evidence from the 2014 OECD Survey on Managing Budgeting Constraints: Implications for HRM and Employment in Central Public Administration. The results clearly illustrate the complex challenges facing civil services, such as how to reduce size and cost while still attracting and retaining high-calibre professional talent. The first part of this report shows that the pressure on central public administrations to reduce costs has required many OECD countries to make cuts that have likely resulted in negative impacts on the workforce regarding trust, motivation and commitment. Overall, 67% of countries surveyed have implemented a pay freeze since 2008. The second part explores how a number of OECD countries are using employee surveys as a leadership tool to better manage employee engagement, which is linked to better job performance, organisational commitment, productivity and public sector innovation. Employee engagement can be a powerful counter balance to austerity-driven measures.

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  • Foreword

    This report was prepared by the OECD Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate (GOV), under the direction of Rolf Alter, It is based upon a 2014 Survey conducted by the OECD Public Employment and Management Working Party (PEM) and its related work on employee engagement.

  • Executive summary

    Civil services operate during very challenging times. civil servants face complex policy problems, as they are faced with higher citizen expectations, yet, they have fewer resources.

  • From crisis to performance

    This chapter presents some of the concepts and links the findings from the in-depth analysis of the next two chapters. It describes how most OECD public administrations have been approaching civil service reform to respond to complex policy challenges and to budgetary pressures. It presents two types of HRM measures: cost control measures which look at the workforce in terms of numbers and costs, and reforms primarily intended to maintain the commitment and motivation of employees in the face of difficult retrenchment programmes. It argues that a balance of each is required to manage costs while maintaining longer-term capacity, and introduces the concept of employee engagement as one way of measuring and managing civil service reform.

  • Budgetary constraints, cost cutting measures and civil service reform

    This chapter looks at recent OECD research that suggests changes to human resource management (HRM) between 2008 and 2013 have been driven first and foremost by a reactive need to cut workforce costs, rather than building longer-term workforce capacity and innovation. It explores the survey results from the Survey on Managing Budgeting Constraints: Implications for HRM and Employment in Central Public Administration, which indicate that employee engagement across OECD countries may have been threatened as a result of the cost-cutting measures implemented in most OECD countries. Chapter 2 looks at these measures with a view to their potential longer-term impact on employees, organisations and the fiscal bottom line.

  • An engaged civil service for innovation, productivity and sustainable reform

    This chapter looks at how a number of OECD countries are using the concept of employee engagement to drive a better, evidence-based approach to management. Definitions and evidence of engagement are discussed, followed by a description of how the United States, the United Kingdom and the German Employment Agency (Bundesagentur fur Arbeit, BA) measure engagement and use it to drive performance. This is followed by a discussion of how the tools of leadership and management can promote engagement, as well as a modern and individualised HRM. Chapter 3 concludes with suggestions on how engagement can be improved in OECD civil services.

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