We know that savings have to be made and costs cut in public services, that we have to get more from less, and productivity has to improve, because that’s what we are told by Ministers. Strange then that at the Energy Department, as policy lurches from one crisis to the next, and experts predict a mismatch between supply and demand, with an acknowledged shortage of generating capacity and a creaking national grid, and an expensive nuclear deal in prospect that may or may not work,(probably the latter), one has grounds for wondering why so many civil servants who deal with Energy policy are due bonuses.
The Public Sector is heavily into bonuses but has yet to produce any evidence that they work (ie for example- they incentivise employees to increase productivity). Because-well – there isn’t and they don’t. Bonuses might work on a production line, making widgets, but for more complex team oriented tasks and services, there is scant evidence that they do, or at least they only work in certain very specific and limited contexts. Apart from anything else its extremely difficult to disaggregate an individual’s singular efforts and added value from that of other team players. Or, establish clear cause and effect rather than simply identifying correlations. The empirical evidence just isn’t there. If evidence tells us anything it is that non-monetary incentives (e.g., recognition, respect, autonomy, etc.) can be much more powerful motivators of behaviours in the workplace. I can guarantee, by the way, that the departments ‘productivity’ will not have increased over the last year, and as Professor Michael Barber has reminded us in the past, improving productivity is a key task and benchmark of any and every government department.
New figures show that Energy secretary Amber Rudd’s department blew a total of £1,299,729 on whats called “Non-consolidated performance related payments”, aka bonuses, in 2014-15. A whopping £284,586 was earmarked for just 108 “Senior Civil Servants”, meaning these departmental mandarins hooked themselves a median average of £9,800, with some payouts going as high as an austerity-busting £14,700. This is despite an average annual salary of £109,490 . The average private sector bonus for UK workers last year was just £1,500…
Are other civil servants in other departments across government getting bonuses? I think we know the answer to that one.
Schools Week tells us that The Department for Education (DfE) paid out £1.7 million in bonuses last year – with top civil servants pocketing up to £17,500 for good performance. In total, 25.7 per cent of DfE senior civil servants got a bonus, with a median of £11,000. That compared with 23.4 per cent of non-senior civil servants with a median bonus of £1,900. And at Ofsted a quarter of the watchdog’s senior civil servants received bonuses: the largest was £16,500 and the median was £13,500.Question- did productivity in the DFE and Ofsted go up last year? I think we probably know the answer to that one too
Austere times, indeed, in the public sector.