Attitudes of public sector employees towards private sector careers

Social and market research company Macroscope carried out a survey in late 2009 to assess various aspects of working conditions in the public sector in Lithuania and to sound out the attitudes of public sector employees towards career opportunities in the private sector. The findings revealed that Lithuanian public sector employees would prefer private sector careers on a number of criteria and that around two fifths would agree to move to the private sector.

Survey’s aim and methodology

The survey of public sector employees in Lithuania carried out by social and market research company Macroscope in December 2009/January 2010 aimed to:

  • assess different aspects of working conditions in the public sector;
  • find out the opinions of public sector employees towards career opportunities in the private sector.

The survey was conducted through a computer-assisted web interview (CAWI) method and covered 379 employees from the Lithuanian public sector.

Main survey findings

Description of respondents

Half the respondents had up to five years of total service, more than a quarter (27%) had 11–20 years of service and about a tenth had 6–10 years of service. About 11% had more than 21 years of service.

The average monthly net employment income reported by most respondents (41%) was €435–€579 (LTL 1,501– LTL 2,000). Slightly more than a quarter (26%) reported a monthly income of €580–€724 (LTL 2,001–LTL 2,500) and around a fifth (19%) earned €290–€434 (LTL 1,001–LTL 1,500) per month (Table 1).

Table 1: Monthly income of respondents ( N = 379)
Monthly income Percentage
Up to €289 (LTL 1000) 5
€290–€434 (LTL 1,001– LTL 1,500) 19
€435–€579 (LTL 1,501– LTL 2,000) 41
€580–€724 (LTL 2,001– LTL 2,500) 26
€725–€1,014 (LTL 2,501– LTL 3,500) 5
Did not answer question 4

Note: N = number of respondents.

Income and workload

The survey found a reduction in employment income for nearly all respondents (97%) compared with the previous year, with 37% of respondents reporting a significant decrease (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Change of income compared with previous year (%) (N = 379)

Figure 1: Change of income compared with previous year (%) (N = 379)

Note: N = number of respondents.

The absolute majority of the respondents (93%) noted that the level of their income in general did not correspond to their expectations (that is, to what they think they deserved to earn). As few as 5% of the respondents indicated that their current income corresponded to their expectations.

Despite the reduction in income, 58% of the respondents reported an increase in their workload. This often resulted in poorer quality of work:

  • nearly half (49%) said the quality of their work had been impaired by the increased workload and resultant rush;
  • 4% said they had had to work overtime in order to maintain the same quality of work;
  • 41% indicated that the quality of their work had remained unchanged.

Assessment of career opportunities in the private sector

According to the survey, public sector employees find employment in the private sector to be quite attractive:

  • 69% believed that wages were more attractive in the private sector;
  • 49% said that there were more/better career opportunities in the private sector.

However, the most important advantages of employment in the public sector indicated by the respondents are stability of jobs and lesser workload – responses chosen by 80% and 37% of the respondents respectively (Figure 2). But although employment in the public sector is seen as more stable, only a third of the respondents said they were sure of maintaining their current jobs in the next few years.

Figure 2: Assessment of different aspects of work in the private and public sectors (%) (N = 379)

Figure 2: Assessment of different aspects of work in the private and public sectors (%) (N = 379)

Note: N = number of respondents.

Only 16% of the respondents said they would rather not move to the private sector, whereas 41% would take the opportunity to move. More than a third, however, could not give a decisive answer to this question (Figure 3). The desire to move from the public to the private sector fell significantly for workers with more years of service in the public sector.

Figure 3: Willingness of respondents to move to the private sector (%) (N = 379)

Figure 3: Willingness of respondents to move to the private sector (%) (N = 379)

Note: N = number of respondents.

Rasa Zabarauskaite, Institute of Labour and Social Research

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