Surveying the Results of the 2017 Public Service Employee Survey

On March 29, 2018, Treasury Board Secretariat released the results of the 2017 Public Service Employee Survey. Conducted every three years, the survey measures federal public servants' opinions on various aspects of their workplace.

Here are some of the results from three priority areas:


Harassment in the workplace

Disappointingly, the overall level of harassment experienced within the federal public service remains almost unchanged: 18% in 2017 compared to 19% in 2014. The majority of harassment, according to the survey, is perpetrated by those with authority over the alleged victim.

If the numbers are any indication, the current approach to dealing with harassment isn’t working and much more needs to be done to confront the issue.

Bill 65, a government bill introduced last November and currently before the House of Commons, attempts to deal with the problems of workplace harassment and violence. PIPSC has recommended that the government consider several improvements to the bill, including a broader, more inclusive definition of harassment and fewer, narrower exceptions to the Employer’s duty to investigate and report allegations of harassment. You can read PIPSC’s entire brief to the committee here.


Psychological wellness

The 2017 survey was the first to include questions on psychological wellness, so it is difficult to say if the government’s 2016 Federal Public Service Workplace Mental Health Strategy is having an impact.


We are, however, very concerned that only 56% of respondents describe public service workplaces as psychologically healthy. Furthermore, only 67% of respondents think their department is doing a good job of raising awareness of mental health in the workplace.

One year after the launch of the Mental Health Strategy, we can see that the government is interested in improving mental health, though there is clearly room for significant improvement.



Phoenix pay problems have had such an impact on federal employees’ engagement and well-being that the survey included five questions aimed at those who have been overpaid, underpaid or not paid at all by Phoenix.

The results show frustrations with Phoenix are apparent, with "pay or other compensation-related issues" ranked as the number one cause of stress at work.

Among survey respondents, 69% reported that they had issues with pay resulting from Phoenix. The vast majority of these problems involved underpayment and missing payments. Altogether 14% of this group spent 40 hours or more trying to resolve their pay issues.

Only 36% report being satisfied with the support given by their employer to resolve their pay problems and a mere 16% are satisfied with the support they received from the Pay Centre in Miramichi.

On March 28, PIPSC unveiled the preliminary results of our own in-house survey, asking members entitled to back pay if the Phoenix pay system has correctly paid out their retropay. The results show that over 67% of the respondents reported they can't be certain that their retroactive pay is correct. Needless to say, we have conveyed these findings, our members’ frustrations, and our own concerns to Treasury Board.