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Our Opinion: Survey sheds partial light on public workforce

Our Opinion: Survey sheds partial light on public workforce

News Tribune Editorial

September 3rd, 2017 by News Tribune in Opinion

A recent survey by state workers sheds some — but not much — light on the state of Missouri's public workforce.

The same could be said for Gov. Eric Greitens' reaction to the survey.

State workers were polled in July. They most frequently describe Missouri's government as "caring," "underpaid," "good" and "unorganized," according to the Associated Press.

None of those descriptive words surprise us. We've always believed state employees to be a caring group, and it's no secret they are underpaid. We've chronicled Missouri's bottom-of-the-barrel pay compared to other states in news stories, and we've pushed for salary raises in editorials.

Greitens told the AP most workers who answered the survey questions say they care about state government and find work meaningful. But most also said the state is not focused on what residents need and how to help them. According to Greitens, many workers also reported agencies lack clear direction.

We've heard our share of anecdotal stories about mismanagement, chaos and general disorganization. And we've all seen the audits that highlight these faults, which occasionally even rise to criminal offenses.

But that's not the norm, and government and its workers always should expect such oversight and scrutiny.

The survey was voluntary, but 35,000 — a good portion of the state workforce — took it.

But the few results of the survey given to the press don't tell the whole story. What percent of workers are engaged in their work and how is morale? What do workers believe needs to be done to address disorganization? Have there been past similar surveys to compare answers and look for trends?

Greitens, who took office in January, said he met with his Cabinet last week to review answers. He says they're committed to change.

We hope the survey, as well as its analysis by Greitens and others, is shared with the public, which can give input to their elected officials as to what the promised "change" entails.

News Tribune