Who are the happiest staff in IFAD?

By Clare Bishop-Sambrook, Lead Technical Adviser (Gender and Social Inclusion)

Younger women? Older men? General service staff or professionals? As is often the case, it depends on the question you are asking.

A recent analysis conducted by the PTA gender team provides some interesting insights.

Our happiness is stable
Each year, IFAD conducts the staff engagement index survey which picks up on six areas of our work environment. The overall index has remained pretty constant at around 75% over the last four years, with little variation at the corporate level between women and men.

Collectively we are most comfortable with understanding the results we are expected to deliver and being held accountable for them (both rated over 90%). We are reasonably content with the level of initiative shown by our colleagues (72%) and our freedom of action without needing to go to our supervisors (68%). But we are least happy with people accepting responsibility for problems that arise in their work (57%) and directors seeking the opinions of people working in their division (63%).

Who are we?
Before digging deeper into the data, let us see who we are – or at least those 485 people who responded to the survey. Of the respondents, 31% were women general staff, a further 30% were international professional men, 28% were international professional women and the balance were male general service (7%) and national professional men and women (4%).

Over 40% of the staff are aged between 46-55 years and another 10% or so are over 55 years. Among the younger age groups, there are more women aged between 25-35 years and more men under 25 years. Professional men (international and national) and general service women tend to be in the older cohort, whereas general service men tend to be younger.

Digging deeper into the data
Men over 55 were consistently more positive across all six indicators. The same holds true for women over 45, but their positivity is much less pronounced than for men. One of the most interesting differences was the fact that as men’s age increased they rated the consultations by their director more positively, whereas the reverse was true for women. Young men and women were both concerned about colleagues accepting responsibility for work-related problems.

Among men, national professional officers have the greatest clarity about what they are expected to deliver (100%) and their accountability to deliver (95%). However, they have the lowest freedom to act without consulting their supervisors (55%).

Male general service staff were least enthusiastic about their colleagues’ ability to accept responsibility for problems that arise in their work (49%) and about the level of initiative shown in their division (60%).
There were fewer differences in the results between women professionals and women general service staff. The most notable ones were that general service women felt there was less initiative shown in their division (66%) whereas professional women were more concerned about people taking responsibilities for work-related problems (53%).

What more needs to be done to improve our worklife in IFAD?
Although overall staff engagement has remained relatively constant in recent years, breaking down the data like this highlights significant differences within the staff population. If we want to improve the index, we need to speak to those who are least happy. That means we need to find out more from male general service staff, younger staff, and women in all categories.

For insights from the 2014 Global Staff Survey, contact gender@ifad.org