I have primarily worked in the private sector, although a couple of assignments have been with ex public sector organisations (Transport and Education). If we, as reward professionals, tried to get away with the kind of pay settlements that are being offered to our public servants, then we would be loosing all our top talent and we would be kissing goodbye to our business success.
There is an expression ” If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”. The public sector organisations are in grave danger of ending up with a team of monkeys. It is only so long that employees will put up with being treated as second class citizens.
As Unite, The Police Federation and Prospect all ballot members on strikes over pay (or the right to strike) we look to be moving back to the 1970’s with a strike looming around every corner.
Organisations, whether private or public have a responsibility to their staff as well as to their customers. There is a moral responsibility to award a pay review in line with inflation. If they fail to do this, then they are in effect decreasing the value of their employee’s pay packet each year as their take home wages will not go as far.
Although many employees work for the public sector for reasons other than pay, pay is a hygiene factor. It needs to be at an acceptable level before the other elements can take effect. If pay is too low and employees can not maintain their standard of living, then no matter how good the pension, training, progression or ethical approach, employees will be faced with no option other than to leave and seek a salary level in the private sector which is more acceptable.
All salary increases have to be paid for, there is no difference between the private and public sectors. If private sector companies can find the money, work to a tighter budget and make the organisation leaner and more efficient, then so can public sector organisations. What is saved on employee turnover, retraining and low productivity as a result of low moral, can be used to fund pay rises in line with inflation.