A typical example of public opinion here in Canada shines through this post by Betty White (and ‘liked’ by 117 others) on CBC news online on June 20, 2011, in response to an article about pending public sector layoffs forewarned by Tony Clement: “They could lay off layers and layers and layers of overpaid useless managers that nobody would miss, but instead they will lay off the young, healthy, strong, union workers with the least seniority, who by the way are just starting out with young families.”
It’s sad that this opinion is out there as not everyone is ‘overpaid’ nor ‘useless’. And while some individuals could improve their performance, most government employees want to do a good job. When employees come up against barriers constantly in their efforts to succeed, it can bring the most optimistic employee to a grinding halt.
One of the most important boosters for employee morale and a critical success factor for achieving milestones in government is solid employee communications activity.
Without good internal communications and solid management support, the government employee reputation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy creating a difficult cycle, which can be difficult to break. Employee morale goes low when there is little or poor communications; low morale leads to disengaged, lethargic and unhappy employees and eventually you have employees who aren’t likely to improve this reputation.
Most public servants do want to make a difference, especially when public servants are hired. They really want to change something in their world that can make life easier and better for a citizen: a senior citizen, an Aboriginal or a child and more. Despite what's been revealed in media coverage of the sponsorship scandal and the Gomery Commission, or the Mulroney hearings, among others, most public servants have tremendous respect for taxpayers' money. Over time, the feeling of frustration, lack of power and being beat up in the media largely for what politicians and unions have done can demoralize employees in a system already wrought with plenty of challenges.