Sophie Ryan

Sophie Ryan is an APNZ reporter.

Quarter of state servants bullied at work, report shows

A quarter of state workers have reported being bullied or harassed. File photo / Thinkstock.
A quarter of state workers have reported being bullied or harassed. File photo / Thinkstock.

A survey of New Zealand's state services has revealed 25 per cent of workers said they were bullied or harassed in the past year.

The State Services Commission (SSC) published the report of the 2013 Integrity and Conduct Survey of the State Services today.

The 2013 results showed state servants rated the integrity of their colleagues and managers highly and were proud to work for their agencies.

However, the survey showed that 25 per cent of respondents reported being the subject of bullying or harassment in the past year.

Colleagues and managers were reported as the people most often doing the bullying.

SSC's chief legal adviser Gordon Davis said 1 per cent of respondents reported being subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, down from 5 per cent in 2010 and 7 per cent in 2007.

"It is important that all staff work in a safe and professional environment where they can make a positive difference," Mr Davis said.

"Anything less is unacceptable".

WorkSafe New Zealand and MBIE have recently issued guidance for all New Zealand workplaces on preventing and dealing with bullying.

The survey reports negligible levels of bribery being observed and very low levels of other types of improper behaviour.

"The New Zealand state services is rated highly internationally for its standards of integrity and conduct and is considered one of the most transparent public services in the world," Mr Davis said.

"Sustaining New Zealand's high international standing for integrity requires us to work constantly to maintain and strengthen our performance as a politically neutral, high integrity, and professional state services.

"The report said state servants rate the integrity of their colleagues and managers highly and are proud to work for their agencies.

While staff of District Health Boards rate satisfaction with their work the highest of all survey respondents, the overall DHB results are disappointing in comparison to that of the other agency types.

"The Ministry of Health will be taking the survey results up with the District Health Board chairs and chief executives and will support them to strengthen the systems and culture that support high standards of behaviour," said Mr Davis.

The survey's findings are drawn from 13,395 state servants in 40 randomly selected agencies including public service departments, District Health Boards, crown agents and crown entities and crown entity companies.

Previous Integrity and Conduct surveys were conducted by the commission in 2010 and 2007.

PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff said it was concerning that only 42 per cent of respondents agreed that promotion and appointments to new jobs within their agencies were based on merit and a fair process.

"The report shows that public agencies need to shift to more high performance approaches to management - cultures of open communication where people are encouraged to speak up, they have opportunities to develop and are paid fairly," he said."

A shift in management approach is also needed to encourage retention, particularly of young people, with 30 per cent likely to leave within two years, with the lack of future career opportunities, low pay and a lack of recognition among the key reasons.

"Only 58 per cent agree that they receive good recognition for doing a good job and just 54 per cent say that they are paid fairly for the work that they do.

"We are discussing the issues raised by the report with the SSC and are looking forward to working with them and with agencies on the issues raised."

- APNZ

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