Stress may be on the rise, but private sector employees are still happy and proud to work in the commercial sector according to new research among employers and staff. The Hays Career Outlook Survey, undertaken in Nov/Dec 2011, shows that over half (57%) say they would actively seek a role in the private sector if they were starting their career again. Private sector staff also rate their leadership, support from management and career development opportunities as better than in the public sector.

Despite 70% of private sector employers stating the sector is more stressful compared to a year ago, over 80% of employers would still encourage today’s graduates to seek work in the private sector. Employees also remain proud to work in the sector, with 71% of staff rating pride in their work within the sector as six out of ten or above. Over three quarters (76%) rated their happiness at working in the private sector at six or above, with most (24%) scoring their happiness at eight.

Charles Logan, Director at Hays, says, “The survey shows that despite the tough times faced by the private sector, staff remain remarkably positive and proud to be working there. This is good news for employers because it means they have a better chance of keeping staff motivated and engaged during what is likely to be a difficult year.”

With almost half (47%) of employers stating they believe managers are to blame for poor morale it is clear that they have a critical role to play in galvanising staff. Logan says, “Employers need to make sure that managers have the skills needed to steer workers through the uncertain year ahead, keep employees proud of their work and subsequently drive performance.”

But employees shouldn’t rely entirely on their managers. They also need to take control of their own destiny, according to Logan. He says, “If employers are not offering the training and development opportunities they want, they need to drive it themselves or consider other options. There are still vacancies out there for people with the right skills and experience, but it’s up to jobseekers to ensure they have what’s being looked for.”

Despite concerns about low morale and stress levels, over two-thirds (67%) of employers in the private sector still do not believe the retention of skilled people will be an issue over the coming year. Private sector employees say the economic outlook is limiting their opportunity to develop and progress their career; three-quarters (75%) call on employers to invest more in training to get the skills needed from staff. Over a third (37%) believe a lack of opportunities in their department or sector as a whole is holding back career progression.

The data also revealed employee perception of each sector:

– Over half (54%) of private sector workers think they have better leadership than the public sector, while only 13% of public sector workers believe they have more effective leaders.

– Over a third (37%) of private sector workers feel they get better support from management, compared to just a 22% in the public sector.

– Staff believe better career development is available in the private sector (44% of private sector employees, 40% of public sector employees).