Most NZ public servants say quest to make a difference is primary reason for being in role

By Jackson Graham

Monday November 8, 2021

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Eighty-four per cent of 40,000 NZ public servants surveyed from 36 agencies stay in their job to make a difference to communities. (FiledIMAGE/Adobe)

More than half of New Zealand’s public servants say they’re in the job to achieve something bigger than themselves, an inaugural  Te Taunaki census of the sector shows. 

For 57% of those surveyed, making a positive contribution to society was the primary reason for being in their role. 

The results of nearly 40,000 public servants from 36 agencies also showed 84% were motivated to stay in the job to make a difference for the communities they served. 

Perhaps more significantly, nine-out-of-10 employees said they understood how their work led to improved outcomes for communities. 

NZ public service commissioner Peter Hughes said the census was proof of a “spirit of service to the community” in the sector.

“It’s coming to work every day wanting to make a difference for New Zealand and the communities we serve,” Hughes said. 

As has been in the case in Australia, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the public service more publicly visible in New Zealand. 

Hughes said the crisis had united public servants and their sense of purpose had come to the fore. 

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a more visible example of the public service in action and the hard work of public servants who are in the job to make a difference for New Zealand.  

“It is in times of crisis when the spirit of service that unites public servants comes to the fore,” Hughes said.

A separate survey of the public in July showed New Zealanders’ trust in the public service had risen during 2020 and remained high as the pandemic continued this year. 

New Zealand celebrates its annual Public Service Day on Monday with an awards event. 

The full results of the survey are set to be published in December.


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