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Public sector workers view nursing colleagues as ‘under-appreciated’

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Nurses are the least-appreciated group of professionals among public sector workers, a survey of staff from councils, schools and other emergency services has suggested.

Overall, those behind the survey said it indicated how under-valued staff felt who worked across the NHS, education, policing and civil service.

“It’s shocking to hear how under-appreciated they are”

Heather Glanville

In the poll of around 2,000 public sector workers, 31% voted for nurses as the most under-appreciated, ahead of refuse collectors with 30% and care workers with 26%.

Almost 5.4m people are employed in the public sector and civil service across the UK, but the survey by public sector membership club Boundless has also revealed how rarely they get thanked.

Overall, 7% of all public sector workers had not received a thank you message in more than a year and 20% said they had never received a thank you message in their entire career.

For those who work in the NHS, survey respondents said it had been 43 days since they were last thanked, while 10% had never been thanked at all.

Boundless described the figures as “shocking” and said it had prompted the organisation to launch a campaign to “put the nation’s hard-working public servants in the spotlight”.

The research was carried out in advance of the United Nation’s Public Service Day on Sunday 23 June, which Boundless wants to draw more attention to in the UK.

“A simple ‘thank you’, whether that is online, in a letter or in person, can go a long way”

Heather Glanville

Boundless chair Heather Glanville said: “Our lives are touched so often by the millions of people who work in public service in the UK, so it’s shocking to hear how under-appreciated they are.

“Those who work in the NHS said it had been 43 days since they were last thanked – and 10% had never been thanked at all,” she said.

“It’s time to put that right. As our research shows, a simple ‘thank you’, whether that is online, in a letter or in person, can go a long way,” said Ms Glanville.

She added: “Public Service Day was officially launched by the United Nations as long ago as 2003 but sadly it has been largely overlooked in the UK. We’d like to see it recognised by more people.”

Boundless is a membership club for civil service and public sector workers, which offers opportunities for experiences, events, volunteer activities and things to do during time off.


Boundless survey findings

The most underappreciated public sector jobs were:

  • Nurses – 31%
  • Refuse collectors – 30%
  • Care workers – 26%
  • Police – 24%
  • Teachers – 20%
  • Firefighters – 14%
  • Bus drivers – 13%
  • HMRC – 12%
  • Doctors – 11%
  • Lollipop ladies/men – 10%
  • Probation service – 10%
  • No public sector jobs are unappreciated – 9%
  • Civil service – 8%
  • Driving examiners – 5%
  • Other – 1%

When asked what would make you happier in your job, NHS workers answered:

  • More money – 59%
  • Being thanked by your boss – 38%
  • Being thanked by the public – 29%
  • Fewer hours – 24%
  • More sociable hours – 27%
  • Nothing could make me happier – 3%
  • Other – 3%

On average, NHS workers were last thanked by a member of the public 43 days ago:

  • Less than a day ago – 25%
  • A day up to a week ago – 20%
  • More than week, up to two weeks ago – 15%
  • More than two weeks, up to a month ago – 12%
  • More than a month, up to two months ago – 6%
  • More than two months, up to six months ago – 3%
  • More than six months, up to a year ago – 5%
  • More than a year ago – 4%
  • I’ve never been thanked by a member of the public for doing my job – 10%

When asked if they feel appreciated by the public for doing their job, NHS workers answered:

  • Yes, totally – 52%
  • No, not really – 42%
  • No, not at all – 6%


  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • As A nurse I get Thanked all the time by Patients and visitors. There are some do not seem to understand how much pressure we work under , but I believe they are the minority still . I am certain there are other workers in the NHS who deserve a big thankyou and do not get one. Many Managers are particularly bad at saying thankyou . One Small word in the right place can make an enormous difference. It Is the WHO international Year of The Nurse next year so lets hope lots of attention is made of that event and how special nurses are .

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