Defence: the federal department with the lowest morale?

EXCLUSIVE: Morale among public servants in the Department of Defence has slipped, a survey obtained by The Mandarin reveals. And there’s still plenty more job cuts to come.

The latest employee attitude results from the Department of Defence’s biannual YourSay survey shows its APS morale has plummeted. The August 2014 snapshot was released internally last week and seen by The Mandarin.

Just 17% of Defence’s public servants rate their workplace morale in positive terms, while 42% explicitly rated it as low or very low. This level of dissatisfaction was found in the APS only, as all three uniformed services had significantly higher positive responses and fewer negative ones; 36% and 22% respectively.

This time 10 years ago, Defence’s APS employees were more pessimistic about promotion prospects as the stand-out concerning result of the 2004 attitude survey. It did not directly ask about morale, as few agencies do now. Instead most agencies favour specific questions about supervision, support and opportunities, and those that do tend not to release them publicly. This result may show why.

Half of the respondents said there was insufficient personnel to do the work required. This comes as an estimated 2000 public servants must be cut in the next few years, although there are no plans yet for which directorates and groups will be targeted.

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