Voluntary sector sees jump in employee engagement scores despite prolonged job insecurity

According to the CIPD's Employee Engagement Index, more than half (55 per cent) of employees in the voluntary sector feel engaged at work, compared with 41 per cent last quarter, despite a backdrop of increasing redundancies (25 per cent reporting planned redundancies ahead, a jump of 15 percentage points since last quarter). That's compared with engagement levels of 37 per cent in the private sector, where 8 per cent of workers expect redundancies ahead; and 33 per cent engagement levels in the public sector, where 28 per cent of workers report plans for redundancies in their organisations.

Improved job satisfaction accompanied by improved bottom-up and top-down communications provides food for thought for public and private sectors

The quarterly Employee Outlook, which surveyed employees across all sectors about their attitudes to working life, found that engagement in the voluntary sector is driven not only by an affinity to the organisation's core purpose, but more importantly by open and honest management teams and cultures of mutual trust and respect.

The survey found that voluntary sector workers:

  • Enjoy the highest rating of job satisfaction (a net score of +52, compared with +25 in public sector and +45 in private sector) 
  • Are aware of what is happening in their organisations (68 per cent compared with 51 per cent in public sector and 53 per cent in private sector) 
  • Are most likely to agree that their directors and senior managers treat them with respect (+31 net agreement, compared with +19 in private sector and -7 in public sector) and    are most likely to have trust and confidence in their leaders (+19 and +23 compared with -25 and -22 in the public sector and +12 and +14 in the private sector). 
  • Are the most attuned to their organisations' core values and purpose (+40 compared with +1 in public sector and +32 in private sector) 
  • Have the most confidence in their ability to feed their views upwards (50 per cent compared with 36 per cent in public sector and 45 per cent in private sector). 
  • Are most likely to achieve the right work-life balance (61 per cent compared with 55 per cent in public sector and 57 per cent in the private sector).

Claire McCartney, research adviser at the CIPD, comments:  "It would be easy to attribute strong engagement scores in the voluntary sector to employees' affinity to their organisation's charitable purpose, but our survey suggests that quality of management is a principal driving factor behind high levels of job satisfaction and employee engagement despite prolonged job insecurity.”