GNWT job satisfaction increasingly resembles shrug emoji


The latest GNWT satisfaction survey suggests life at the territorial government is, for an increasing number of staff, as appetizing as a gentle slap in the face with a wet fish.

While a majority of employees are broadly happy, results published on Tuesday show morale has dipped since a 2016 survey and pride in the NWT government is slipping.

Sixty-five percent of people said they are proud to work at the GNWT, a drop of six percent since 2016. Sixty-six percent of people said they’d recommend the GNWT as a great place to work, also a six-percent decline.

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Seventy-four percent of staff responding to the survey said they agreed with the phrase: “Overall, I am satisfied in my work as a GNWT employee.” That figure had dropped just under one percent since the last survey and has essentially remained unchanged for a decade or more.

Overall, the survey reported a 3.4-percent drop in GNWT morale since 2016. High turnover rates and an inability (or disinclination) to take annual leave were highlighted issues. The report containing the results stated that the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated travel rules were probably factors.

A GNWT press release about the results on Tuesday avoided mentioning any of them, though there were some bright spots among a general sense of mild decay.

“These results provide the GNWT with the information needed to improve employee engagement and satisfaction across the public service,” said finance minister Caroline Wawzonek, whose department oversees human resources.

The good news? NWT government staff think some aspects of diversity at work are going well.

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Seventy-five percent of respondents agreed that “the GNWT promotes cross-cultural awareness opportunities for employees,” a whopping nine-percent increase on 2016’s figure and the largest improvement across any aspect of the survey. The report’s authors concluded GNWT initiatives in this area are having “tangible impacts.”

On top of that, 90 percent of respondents said they have good relations with their coworkers. More than 80 percent find at least some of their work “challenging and interesting.”

Yet despite this, only 52 percent of people responding agreed with the statement: “I would describe our workplace as being psychologically healthy.” (This was a new question for 2021 and doesn’t have a previous result for the purposes of comparison.)

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Only 57 percent said they felt valued as a GNWT employee.

If you work at the GNWT, you may find some of the lowest scores telling.

Just 37 percent of respondents, the survey’s lowest score, agreed that “the GNWT has adequate reward programs in place to help celebrate and acknowledge individual and team efforts.” (The report recommends, as one solution, that “employees may be given pay-for-performance as a reward for work well done.”

Forty-nine percent agreed that “essential information flows effectively from senior leadership to staff.” Those were the only two scores below 50 percent.

You can find report cards by department and agency on the GNWT’s website.