Staff dissatisfaction with the Hamilton City Council will take up to three years to turn around as confidence in the organisation keeps falling, says the council's chief executive.

Barry Harris said staff concerns about the council's culture had been put on the backburner in the past year as managers became busy with unexpected issues including a damning V8 Supercars audit, criticism of the Claudelands Event Centre and the need to make budget cuts.

"The sheer workload of the leaders and senior managers ... has constrained the amount of time we've had to put into engaging with staff and we've got to do a better job over the next period," Mr Harris said.

Significant staff concerns have been highlighted in a staff climate survey which revealed 7.5 per cent were unmotivated to put in extra effort. Last year in the same survey 3.1 per cent said they were unmotivated.

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Budget cuts, staff losses and increased expectations were blamed for overall staff satisfaction falling 2.7 per cent since last year's survey.

There were also a significant drops in staff confidence in leadership and their perception that the council cared about its staff.

"What the results are telling me is we are not getting that extra effort we are going to need to make us a world-class organisation," Mr Harris said.

"We understand why we are in this situation, but am I concerned, absolutely, and we need to do something about it."

The council planned to address the issues urgently by using input from staff to make a plan.

But he admitted this wouldn't be "easy" and although he expected some improvements within the year, he thought it would take three years to turn around staff feelings about the council.

Public Service Association national secretary Brenda Pilott said the survey showed there was a significant lack of confidence in the organisation - something the union had been telling management for some time.