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Engaging Public Employees for a High-Performing Civil Service

image of Engaging Public Employees for a High-Performing Civil Service

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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From crisis to performance

current trends and challenges in public employment

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.

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