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The People Survey - where we have made progress and where we can do better

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Civil Service Reform, People survey

Back in October I asked every civil servant to take part in the annual Civil Service People Survey. An impressive 270,793 of you did, and I’d like to extend a big thank you to all of you who took the time to give your views – it is only by hearing directly from civil servants across the country that we can continue to improve.

Today marks the publication of the 2013 Civil Service People Survey benchmark figures. These results are brand new and so the real analysis will come later, but I wanted to offer a few early thoughts and hopefully kick-start the discussion. I want this to become a conversation at a team, departmental and organisational level about where we have made progress and where we can do better.

However I think it’s important firstly to reflect on our strengths. The People Survey shows us that despite the challenges we overwhelmingly remain interested in our work, have the skills we need to do our jobs, work with our teams to improve the services we provide and have managers that are open to our ideas and recognise when we have done well.

These are key components which a good organisation must get right, and I'm very pleased that the Civil Service has scored highly where these issues are concerned over the past five years.

Another encouraging sign is that learning and development scores are up again. I know that giving time to this is often easier said than done given the time demands that our jobs place on us, but I believe that it is vital to our future success. That’s why we reflected this in the Civil Service Reform Plan – each and every civil servant is now entitled to at least 5 days’ learning and development a year.

Our scores on leadership and managing change remain low, but I'm heartened that the visibility of senior managers has risen. Despite improvements the scores aren't good enough, that's why the leadership and management of change are central planks in both the Reform Plan and the Capabilities Plan.

Finally, I'm very pleased that the strongest improvement at the Civil Service level has been for the question on the ability to try something new, even if it might not work.

Innovation is at the heart of how we are going to deliver better products and services, to meet the long-term challenges facing Britain we need to think and work differently and we can't do that without taking risks.

However, as we all know the Civil Service level picture is only the tip of the iceberg and scores are much more varied across and within our departments and agencies. The results for your organisation and for your team will be coming out shortly so look out for them, and I would like everyone to get involved in thinking about how we use them to help make our organisations great places to do great work.

View the People Survey results

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  1. Comment by Michael Swallow posted on

    I didn't complete this year’s survey as largely senior management usually ignore the embarrassingly poor results & again from the comments I’ve already read from senior management this pattern has continued.
    Why ask us to complete a survey, when all you're going to do is cherry pick the results you want to see.
    Until senior management are held responsible for consistently poor results nothing will change.

  2. Comment by Mike posted on

    Any chance of a comment on pay and benefits, employee engagement or taking action?

  3. Comment by Bob posted on

    Considering the huge investment in raising 'engagement' levels these are very poor results. Could this be because they reflect the reality that the Civil Service is a much worse place to work than it was only a few years ago?

  4. Comment by Ron posted on

    Yes, it would be interesting to have some feedback on the comments made relating to pay.

  5. Comment by Carolyn Fraser posted on

    We need input on pay and conditions.

  6. Comment by Paul posted on

    No comments on Pay and Benefits?

  7. Comment by tracy posted on

    Where is the part on, do we feel safe in the job with all the staff cut backs. I like how the goverment want to be harder on criminals, I really do. Should they really be cutting the staffing levels in half to achieve that though. When the riots happen and they will, will all the men and women who made this decision be at my side battling with the prisoners to gain back control.

  8. Comment by James Chan posted on

    Mike's comments are understandable, but it is crucial for us to bring our concerns to senior managers' attention. I have used it raise Expressions of Interest’ (EoI), which is used much more to fill vacancies. Unlike ‘recruitment’, there is no defined process for ensuring fair & open competition. Under EoI, rejected candidates have received negative & anonymous feedback or none at all. Whereas in ‘recruitment’ you receive a letter with the Panel Chairman’s name for which to raise queries. Some managers of EoI campaigns have changed the original competencies sought for jobs, after they were advertised without any public notification. This makes it very difficult for candidates without social connections to such managers to draft applications which match the changed competences. Managers may thus do this just to exclude certain candidates, which is potentially discriminatory & may promote nepotism.

    • Replies to James Chan>

      Comment by Paul posted on

      I'd like to pick up on a comment made by James Chan about potential nepotism in the recruitment of civil servants internally.

      I have applied for numerous posts, particularly in the DWP and HMRC and I never made the sift. It looked very much from the competency feedback received that, at best, the marking was “inconsistent”, fuelling a suspicion that internal candidates were being selected and promoted to maintain harmony within their own department.

      As a result there is the distinct possibility that the credibility of the competency framework will be brought into disrepute if this practice continues.

      HR initiatives such as Talent Management also look like lip service. There seems to me to be not only a failure to identify the best talent, but also a fear to do so by some line managers. This results in talented people being wasted and denied, for example, secondment opportunities to further advance their careers elsewhere in the Civil Service. Consequently it also denies the Civil Service the opportunity to benefit further from the undoubted skills it has at its feet, resulting in for example the hiring of consultants at a premium cost.

      There are some fundamental questions to be asked of both HR and the Civil Service as a whole:

      Does the Civil Service wish to identify and harness its best talent or not?

      Does anyone know anyone who has benefitted from Talent Management?

      Does the Civil Service really think that it is advantageous to have 90% plus staff staying in the same jobs or in the same department for years on end?

      Are DWP, HMRC and co. really looking to recruit from the best talent around Whitehall or merely wishing to churn their existing staff around their department?

      The Civil Service has the talent within its own ranks to deliver a world class service but it is woefully poor at managing their most valuable asset with some line managers’ seemingly viewing talented people as a threat rather than an opportunity. Together with a lack of motivation for training and development it is a recipe for turmoil, low morale, poor service and suspicion.

      I'm never confident with the Civil Service that the best person gets the job. I'd like to think that it’s "what you know" rather than "who you know" but I’m afraid I’m not convinced.

      • Replies to Paul>

        Comment by Paul posted on

        Absolutly right. Re HMRC and DWP I have had exactly the same experience with these depts since the move to the online recruitment system, I have got nowhere. The feedback is poor and the suspicion must be all interviews are going to internal candidates. The system is not at all transparent, I have raised this before with the civil service commissioners but got the brush off, they just look at external recruitment.

      • Replies to Paul>

        Comment by Neil Sutherland posted on

        I share the concerns about selection processes. The new Competency Framework appears to be used as a way of getting around objective selection criteria.

  9. Comment by colin posted on

    Its same old same old. if manangment don't listen in the 15yrs i've been here i can't see any change in the next 15yrs apart form what they want. This is why i'm reluctant when it come to the survey. they on;y want to "pat themselves on the back2 to a job well done WELL IT ISN'T and it won't change for the better.

  10. Comment by Andy posted on

    Pay and Benefits scores this badly. Could this be anything to do with the fact that there are many others like myself - who got promotion 5 years ago, yet are still on their band minimum.
    Scores are also very poor on Leadership and Managing Change. One has to wonder whether the Leadership will explore that in more depth.

  11. Comment by Andrew Tolfree posted on

    Having now read the results we can see that across the civil service "engagement" has remained fairly static and on the whole positive (i.e. over 50%)

    I work for HMRC, where it is clear that this department is far behind other departments on all scores - My main question still remains after two years and it is this: Why is the "Enagagement Index" always shown as a percentage.

    If we use an actual index we see the result is +8 rather than 58%
    I believe that my stating the "index" rather than a converted percentage we uncover a far more useful result and I don't see why we should shy away from this:

    The percentage score is mathematically flawed as if 100% of the respondants replied "Disagree" we would still have a score of 25% rather than an index of -25 even though there is no positive engagement.

    There are many other points to note, noteably "change", but really I just wish we would use statistics better in this aspiring open and transparent government.

  12. Comment by Keith Stoddart posted on

    My own department's lamentable 43% reponse rate reflects a lack of trust in senior management and the increased positive results returned should be considered in the context that 57% of people are so unengaged as to not contribute at all. I did respond as I think these things are important but I believe there are three main issues which led to the majority of staff boycotting it: one- the introduction of the new relative marking system was heralded as a reponse to previous surveys; two- many staff are convinced that their previous responses were viewed by management and used punitively againsts them and three- a previous Board member publicly stated that low levels of engagement could be a factor in selecting offices for closure. Most staff find the work itself rewarding and worthwhile- it's "everything else" that gets in the way and makes the work experience often so trying and difficult. There is a lot of work to do to positively engage the majority of staff.

  13. Comment by Matt posted on

    I do tire of these articles that will only higlight the good, the civil service still seems to not want to report bad news or highlight areas of concern. No matter what bad things occur there will only ever be a positively spun news article. We need to present news of both sides to learn and not shy away from our problems as an organisation.

    I find it concerning 62% of staff do not believe poor performance is dealt with effectively, 62% of staff feel there are no opportunities to develop their career in their organisation, 59% have no confidence in the decisions made by senior managers, 62% of staff feel it is unsafe to challenge how things are done in their organisation, and lastly, 67% think ineffective action has been taken on the last survey.

    Not evening mentioning pay and benefits, this is just a range of some areas that need to be highlighted and addressed.

    8% of staff want to leave as soon as possible, so that will aid in meeting headcount target? I am sure answers to these questions are considered if to run a VES.

  14. Comment by Dave Vincent posted on

    Which SES survey asked us to approve the introduction of Regional Pay? It came in. No-one else has taken this unjustified system on and the Treasury suppressed their own Hays Report which showed the private sector having a pay lead over the public sector. So much for openness and integrity, or plain simple honesty.
    Which SES survey asked us to be subject to pay restraint (whether the economy is strong or weak throughout that period) for over 20 years?
    Which SES survey asked us to approve the Senior Civil Service being on better pay systems than staff in Bands A - F?
    Whilst previous SES surveys did trick staff into claiming they wanted sick absence and poor performance dealt with 'more robustly' they did not mean warnings for genuine sick absence nor that poor performance would be arbitrarily set at a level 800% - 1500% above the actual level of less than 1%.
    What SES survey allowed us to state we oppose privatisation of civil service work - that it is a huge rip off of customers and taxpayers as rail, gas, electricity, water has proven to be and Royal Mail will be?
    The survey questions are carefully selected and our answers cherry picked as a previous poster has said.

  15. Comment by Neil. S. posted on

    The magic of statistics, they can portray any picture you wish. Whist we should celebrate our sucesses, we still have a long way to go. Leadership is a big issue as is bullying, harassment and discrimination; is a 10% figure acceptable, probably not. Pay and staff retention is another issue. Civil Service Pay at lower grades is still far below the industry norms for comparable roles and the pay freezes and nugatory rises are not sustainable to those in these roles. Did i really interpret that almost 50% of staff are considering a short term (1Yr or less) in their posts, thats should be a very alarming figure. Recruitment costs the tax payer large sums of money and destablises an organisiation.

    • Replies to Neil. S.>

      Comment by Sofia S. posted on

      In response to Neil S.
      I am very concerned over the way the results have been presented, and no, it is not the 'magic of statistics', it is just very very poor statistics for which I cannot figure en explanation!

      1) Why are the results shown as 'median scores'. As a person of some statistical training, I would like the point out that median simply splits the distribution in half and does not indicate that the mean or the mode would fall on the same score. Therefore, I am struggling to understand the meaning behind only publishing the median scores.

      2) The document also states that no statistical testing was done as the figures used are only the median scores: why on earth have they used the median scores then?

      3) As a statistical enthusiast (no, I don't appear to have a life) I would like to see the percentages responding positively, neutrally and negatively to each question, and then significance testing between relevant respondent groups (e.g. age, gender, race, location etc.) From these we could see how many staff actually responded positively!

      I would hazard a guess that the median scores have been used in order to positively manipulate the scores to senior management's benefit.

  16. Comment by Peter posted on

    This has to go down as a "Must Improve" for Bob.

  17. Comment by David Green posted on

    I am totally unhappy with the approach that the DWP has to staff at higher levels of management. There is complete disregard for the well being of staff and utter lack of understanding in terms of health (and particularly mental health) of its employees. As I know from the response of the HR Director there is complete lack of knowledge of the effects of mental health conditions and no desire to understand or improve his knowledge.
    I refused to do the survey on the grounds that this is an exercise for show only. The outcome will not reflect best practice in any areas and results will only be used to support the Depatment's way of doing things not to change any areas highlighted for improvement.

  18. Comment by Jon Weston posted on

    Well I clearly must have read a completely different set of results! I have worked in companies where we have been given 3 months notice and the morale level has still been higher than here. Once again there is no mention of pay or especially the pension situation which now costs me more than twice as much as when I joined the Civil Service 5 years ago.....which, incidentally, I consider to be the worst career move I have ever made and would gladly leave if age was not against me.

  19. Comment by Chris B posted on

    Unfortunately, there seems to be a blanket whitewash over anything to do with the rapidly eroding Public Sector terms and conditions of employment. No senior civil servant has even acknowledged a single one of the multitude of comments on this topic, on any blog that I have seen so far.

    The future for employees in the public sector is bleak. Reduced pensions, vastly reduced pay, reduced leave, reduced flexible working yet now we are not able to claim for doctors, dentists and hospital appointments etc we are expected to use the flex systems to work around lost time; no respect and a total disregard of concerns from senior civil servants in that they cannot even acknowledge there is a severe problem with morale; the first pay offer in years delayed by six months and counting while the Cabinet office quibbles over 1%??? Reduced and no staff engagement at all in many areas now, people come in simply to do their job and go home again. Not to mention the constant threat of redundancies. And still no acknowledgment of any of these issues from the senior civil service.

    I would not recommend a career in the public sector to anyone now. There is no sense of being valued by senior staff, not where it matters to most of the ordinary employees, despite David Cameron's public attempts to pretend otherwise..

  20. Comment by Peter Luckett posted on

    The sad fact is that despite my completing all of the surveys since their instigation I have seen no tangible nor quantifiable improvement in the department in which I work. Scores for all the key critieria have been either poor or woeful yet no real acation has been taken to address the key deficiencies. As a civil servant of +40 years I am saddened and depressed that senior management today, both in my department and in the higher components, don't have my interests if not to heart then close to them. For myself I have no confidence that my senior managers, locally or elsewhere, will take any action, either through indifference, indolence or denial. As such the entire exercise seems fatuous and a waste of money. For myself I have no confidence in my seniors to either have the ability to do their jobs, or have the necessary skills to do so. Sadly, regrettably, I simply don't trust them.

    • Replies to Peter Luckett>

      Comment by Martin posted on

      In answer to Peter Lucket. Yes There is a lot that needs to be done, but individuals make up the Service and it for everyone to own the problem and fix it. The days of waiting for someone else to look after you are long gone & that is not a bad thing. I retired after 40 years & always felt that we had the power at all levels to improve. we had one of the bestscores in the cs but we did challenge our leaders in a positive way and they responded. don't wait for change to be done to you. go out and make positive change happen.

  21. Comment by Steve Keohane posted on

    Across the piece departments have successfully implemented the change programs – Change managed by staff that has born the brunt of the austerity imposed after the ‘banking crash’. Now the departments should reward their people - I am not referring to bonuses; but a proper ongoing process (pensionable) such as restoring spine points etc. If you really value your staff you must deliver...

  22. Comment by Andy posted on

    Last year we apparently asked for the (elsewhere discredited) "Stack Ranking" performance management system and also asked for 5% of staff to be placed on Restoring Efficiency. I wonder what we've asked for this year?

    Personally I'd like to see a pay rise in line with inflation (whilst I'm in Cloud Cuckoo Land, can I also ask for it to be back-dated to when we last had one that kept pace with inflation please!) and I'd also like to be placed on a spine point commensurate with my time in grade.

    Seven years a C2 and still on spine minimum, whilst the time-served C2 next to me has spent the last seven years earning £5000+ per annum for the same outputs.

    If someone could explain to me why they are worth £35,000 more than me, not including the affect this has had on their pension, that would be nice. Is it their age because it's certainly not their experience? Because that would be discrimination...

    • Replies to Andy>

      Comment by Pauline posted on

      Andy, I agree with your coments and am in a similar boat stuck as a lowley E1 for 7 years now, although I did manage to crawl up to the second rung on the ever evasive ladder while my pears basked at the top. I was even worthy of a box 5 bonus this year when they were not deemed good enough for one. However I am still not worthy of earning the same pay as they do. how does that work? If I am worthy, I would very much have preferred to get paid a fair salary than a one off bonus? Can anyone explain how this is fair!!!

  23. Comment by John Sims posted on

    I think the complete lack of a response to the 72 people who took the time to leave a comment on your last blog shows how much the SCS are listening....

  24. Comment by Joseph posted on

    I completed only those parts of the survey relating to leadership and senior management, to help reinforce the generally negative views that staff in my organisation have of same. The rest I ignored, because (a) past experience has shown that nothing substantive is ever acted upon, and (b) I turn sixty next month and will be retiring shortly afterwards, so no longer care. In years gone by, I thought I might postpone my retirement, and work on for another few years; but not now. I want out, and won't regret it.

  25. Comment by Pete posted on

    What about some accountability? Where are the statements from our leaders saying "We have clearly got it horribly wrong in the past few years and we will now go back to Ministers to explain how it is going wrong and to suggest what should be done about it."

  26. Comment by Lesley Coulter posted on

    I always try to encourage colleagues to complete the survey by explaining to them it's their chance to express themselves instead of making negative comments all year long.
    However, I don't feel 100% assured that all issues are looked into, and that some issues are simply being 'brushed under the carpet' still.
    Please Sir Bob, if you really want your staff to be completely happy and proud, try to turn your attention to the matters which are more personable to staff. For example, pay, performance bonuses, etc.

  27. Comment by Sofia S. posted on

    I am very concerned over the way the results have been presented:
    1) Why are the results shown as 'median scores'. As a person of some statistical training, I would like the point out that median simply splits the distribution in half and does not indicate that the mean or the mode would fall on the same score. Therefore, I am struggling to understand the meaning behind only publishing the median scores.

    2) The document also states that no statistical testing was done as the figures used are only the median scores: why on earth have they used the median scores then?

    3) As a statistical enthusiast (no, I don't appear to have a life) I would like to see the percentages responding positively, neutrally and negatively to each question, and then significance testing between relevant respondent groups (e.g. age, gender, race, location etc.)

    I would hazard a guess that the median scores have been used in order to positively manipulate the scores to senior management's benefit.

  28. Comment by Paul posted on

    Even the way the questions are worded make it blatantly obvious to me that once again the senior management want to manipulate the results in order to provide evidence for decisions that have already been made. The questions "Poor performance is dealt with effectively in my team" is a perfect example of this. If i was to answer this question and give a poor result (which i would) because under the new rules in my opinion performance is dealt with too harshly, this would be viewed, because of the wording of the question, as if i was saying the policy is too soft and reinforce senior management's decision to introduce harsher ways of reducing the headcount. So literally if anyone shares the same opinion as me, in that the policy is too harsh, then you could not answer this and give the feedback required which surely reinforces my point that the results are to be manipulated.

  29. Comment by Susan posted on

    I looked specifically at the results for the question B57: Where I work, I think effective action has been taken on the results of the last survey. The benchmark score was 33%.
    Here's an example of what staff did in my organsiation to find out what had been done since the last survey. In early October I organised a staff-led event to showcase actions that had taken place since the 2012 people survey, with 4 colleagues talking about action they had taken with a real or potential impact on the organisation as a whole. I publicised the event through the intranet, posters and invited over 500 people directly. 95 accepted the invitation, an unprecedented response to a peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing event. 9 people showed up. The only reasons given to me were a need to produce briefings at short notice for ministers, and it was a sunny day and a walk was preferrable. What can I say other than I remain disappointed that our efforts to share with colleagues were dismissed so blithely.

  30. Comment by Kyashu posted on

    This year I decided to not do the survery. I have been doing the survery, as have many others only to find that regardless of the suggestions we give or the concerns we have, the same results occur and that is usually nothing. This excercise, as many others have put in this forum, is a way of the senior management just to cherry pick the good points and put themselves on a pedestal for all the "positives". They should ask maybe more relevant questions such as job cuts, funding cuts and pay freezes that many of us have to endure. Maybe more relevant questions should be placed on the survery and see what the true outlook is and see how all majority staff are probably at an all time low in terms of morale,how job satisfaction is falling and how everyday for each and every worker apart from senior managment the situation looks bleaker and bleaker, maybe then and only then the people at the bottom might get some consideration.

  31. Comment by Mark posted on

    Lets be quite clear about this civil service survey it is a total misleading result,with regards to specific jobs and work departments........It is a civil service survey and not specific to your own department.
    An area with good percentage results will of course pull up an area with poor results,there own percentage will suffer a little,but the main issue is a poor percentage returning work department will not show as such.

    For instance should the prison service have there own survey and it not be a civil service one,then please be in no doubt the results would be none comparable with the results of this survey.

    As a matter of course we have been issued the civil service results ,and we do not see individual departmental results......Make no mistake individual departmental survey results will be available.......unfortunately not to you and i ..........Ask yourself how fair is that.

    • Replies to Mark>

      Comment by David posted on

      Mark - individual department level survey reports will be published on all 98 participating department's public websites by the end of January for anyone in the world to study. Staff get first sight of the results which is why they are not available today.

  32. Comment by James Brown posted on

    the civil service has felt gloomy now for the last few years.We need the senior civil service to tell young people and othes joining the civil service how are they going to join the housing ladder when Civil service pay is frozen. How are exising members gong to cope. Our pay and conditions have been attached and yet we are told we are vulued. What are you going to do to make the civil service a better place to work in and return us to the days when we felt valued.

  33. Comment by John D posted on

    The fairly meaningless comparison of previous benchmark survey scores worries me and it distracts the reader from the truth.
    For example; 55% of Civil Servants wouldn’t recommend their organisation as a great place to work, 57% of us don’t believe that there job inspires them to do their best etc….. This fairly damming.
    Taking the survey as a whole with few exceptions the results are pretty consistent over the 5 year period of surveys and nothing has really changed over the last 5 years.
    The question surely is why?

  34. Comment by Chris posted on

    I would imagine that those who drew up the official view with regard to the results of the CS People Survey are still 'spinning'. When will the real issues be properly highlighted and positively tackled?
    It is fair to reflect on 'strengths'. In my opinion, the strength of the CS lies with the hard work and abilities of the staff, a fact that is sadly being overlooked in terms of reward.
    Scores on leadership and managing change remain low for a good reason, leadership is not good. Dept's are run by SCS's who are only interested in furthering their own careers. They are too far removed from the actual work of the Dept and, they have little thought for the far reaching results of their actions and poor instructions.
    The better score on 'visibility of senior managers' is not necessarily an improvement. My office has seen several visits from various SCS's in the VOA. Sadly, in most cases, their visit has felt like a 'box ticking' exercise and left staff feeling thoroughly depressed.
    Staff appreciate that we have to work within Gov. imposed restrictions but some SCS's performance, within those restrictions, has been particularly poor. Will they receive a 'must improve' marking? I doubt it.

  35. Comment by David posted on

    The lack of comment on the general dissatisfaction with pay and benefits in this blog really jumped out for me as it seems to have for many others. While there does seem little that we can do about this at the moment I think it is important to acknowledge it.

  36. Comment by Carl posted on

    Public Sector Terms and Conditions of Employment are currently been 'torn-up'.
    The SCS and others have stopped listening to ordinary Civil Servants (who really want to make a difference in the job that they all do) and the staff survey's highlight this fact.

    And there is still no basic politeness of an acknowledgement to all/any of the comments on this post?

  37. Comment by Jo N posted on

    I am within 3 weeks of leaving the Civil Service ( back to pastures new) so I shouldn't really be too concerned about how the People Survey statistics are manipulated. But I am. I fear for the future of colleagues I leave behind, The pathetically poor way that change is being implemented, managers and team leaders who lack the very basic of people skills. (they wouldn't stand a chance in the 'outside world'). Pay and reward that doesn't even progress at the same rate as benefits. Is it no wonder that there is a general air of despondency? The greatest asset in our business is the people. Value them.

  38. Comment by Pete posted on

    Given that large numbers of union members did NOT take part, people who would invariably have voted that many areas remain unsatisfactory, slight improvements in minor areas cannot be taken as a sign of progress. And any answers which did not show an improvement are, in reality, an indication of a deepening dissatisfaction.

  39. Comment by Karen posted on

    A lot of negative comments here its a shame the civil service has so many people that feel like this, no not everything is perfect. We are working on a limited budget & things need to improve. Myself for one I am happy that for once senior management are tackling poor performers, challenging people to improve. I have worked in the private & public sector and half of the people working in the civil service would be sacked within 6 months.
    People need to realise the benefits you do actually have working for the civil service - flexi, a good work/life balance, a decent pay for the job that you do, opportunitiy to delvelop if you can be bothered to invest some time in your own career.
    If you dont like it leave, you'll beg to come back after working in the private sector.

    • Replies to Karen>

      Comment by Sarah posted on

      I have worked in both the private and public sector and I sometimes wished I hadn't left the private sector. My pay and conditions were generally better outside - I had to take a substantial paycut upon entry (after 11 years I am earning only marginally more than I was in the private sector due to the pay freezes) and I definitely don't think that we are valued. Chances for promotion are virtually nil, we cannot do any training that would actually enhance our career prospects and due to the pay freezes and stopping of progression pay someone newly promoted will earn the same as I do (after 4 years in my grade) - how can that be right? The only thing that keeps me in the MOD is my pension (due to the amount I have now paid in) and the ability to work flexi-time alhough I don't know how much longer I can cope with the complete demoralisation of the workforce. In theory I still have 25 years to work but the way things are going I don't think I am ever going to be able to afford to retire if they keep increasing the pension age etc, etc.
      Never mind - things can only get better (can't they!?!?!?)

      • Replies to Sarah>

        Comment by Martin posted on

        I have worked in 3 different agencies within the CS and the differences are huge. In my previous role I was still sunject to a pay freeze, but I felt valued and there were lots of development opportunities. I took a transfer to a new department to help my development and advance my career. 12 months on it is the worst mistake I ever made. After Christmas I will be resigning. there are still good civil service jobs, but there are too many where staff are left feeling undervalued and with no hope of escape.

  40. Comment by David posted on

    It is difficult not to have a cynical view of these surveys and I think we have to see them for what they do. That is, they monitor levels of discontent as our work is changed and our terms and conditions are attacked and eroded. Unless the indicators deteriorate significantly and valuable people start leaving, then senior management will take the view that the attack on conditions of service can continue. We are pliant and even when there is not bread for us, we will be allowed to eat cake.
    I would be happy to be proved wrong.

  41. Comment by Glenn posted on

    As somebody who worked in the private sector for most of my career, where statistics have been shown to be massaged dependant on the outcome required, it comes as no suprise that the survey concentrates on the so called good aspects that was to be expected. The view from the shop floor however suggests a totally different outlook from staff who are poorly paid undoubtably stresssed out with increasing work loads and expectations from a management which has consistantly failed to manage the changing environment effectively.

  42. Comment by Tim posted on

    Really dissapointed that Sir Bob Kerslake has not commented on pay and benefits considering the dreadful score of 29%. Is this beacause Sir Bob has no power to influence pay & benfits?

  43. Comment by Syl posted on

    Statistics, statistics and damn lies. Won't be completing another survey as there is no point at all. How much spin can they put on nil responses.... bet they would give it a go!

  44. Comment by Ian Burns posted on

    I am voting with my feet, I have been a civil servant for nearly five years, having had extensive work experience in Management and Training roles. I can honestly say that I have never worked for such a deshevelled organisation with so little focus on the people that work in low paid roles. Goalposts are continually moved to keep staff on the lowest possible pay scale and its disgusting.

    I have a new role away from the civil service thank goodness, in 5 years, no one has recognised the skills I can bring to the civil service, however, in a 45 minute interview recently I have been able to impress strangers with my professionalism and they have trust in me to do a good job. Needless to say I will be taking up the offer and turning my back on my current role.

    I find it sad that there is very little praise or recognition for many staff doing a great job, yet there is tolerance by the spade full, for those that consistently underperform and contribute only negatively to the office. There needs to be wholesale changes and those changes should begin and end with managers not the rank and file AA and AO level staff, whose morale is constantly subjected to the laissez faire attitude of the managers who control them.

    Put your people first, actively listen to the criticisms, use them as an opportunity to improve things and don't just sweep them under the carpet. I am willing to discuss these issues should anyone be willing to listen. However, the opportunity to do so will only be open until the 24/12/2013....Thankfully my last day!

    • Replies to Ian Burns>

      Comment by Paul posted on

      “I find it sad that there is very little praise or recognition for many staff doing a great job, yet there is tolerance by the spade full, for those that consistently underperform and contribute only negatively to the office. There needs to be wholesale changes and those changes should begin and end with managers…”

      Wonderfully put.

      I’ll go further. There seems to be a wish for there to be a buffer placed between the talented people and senior management with a requirement for promotion that you are good at saying “yes”.

      I’ve never known so many insecure managers. This insecurity really begs the question of how these managers got their jobs and whether they are qualified to be in their positions. It also begs the question of who is holding them to account.

      It is a formality to come to a conclusion that you are indeed promoted to a level where you can be easily controlled and your poor performance can be turned a blind eye to; whilst the talented people i.e. those that actually do the work and do it well are kept down below the radar and are seen as a threat and a challenge to management.

      Why promote someone who is good at doing their job? All it does is open up a hole in the department that can’t be filled. Better to keep the good people doing the work and let those that can’t do it well….manage, out of harms way.

    • Replies to Ian Burns>

      Comment by Jo N posted on

      Well said, you have summed it up precisely. I too spent most of my working life in private industry, whereas I have enjoyed my 7 years as a Civil Servant I too have to say that the quality of Management is lamentable and the hard working front line staff have to bear the brunt of it.
      Whoever said 'we're all in it together' didn't really mean ALL.

  45. Comment by Pat Hall posted on

    If I put my fingers in my ears, sing la la la & bury my head in the sand then maybe the nasty people asking awkward questions will go away & leave me alone.

  46. Comment by Lorraine posted on

    We had an office meeting above the results that were poor in our office from the 2012 people survey a couple of months before this years survey. We were put in groups AO, EO, etc. Then we were asked what our office could do to improve and told that we could feel free to say what we thought was wrong and make suggestions to improve. In the past i have had a bad manager (which turned out to be bullying and harassment and i had to be moved because of this) I have also had problems with previous mangers in the office i work in. I asked the question in the meeting What can you do if you have a bad manager?
    I was alarmed to find that my HEO took me in the office and told me that my questioning was aggressive.( I had witness who said that i was not) This resulted in me being marked as lower in my last appraisal because of my behaviours. I have had to have mediation with my Heo and find this whole situation to be unfair. My HEO said they are no problems with my work.
    How can you hope to improve if this is the kind of thing you have to go through. I am going to appeal my marking as i feel this is totally unfair.

  47. Comment by Jim posted on

    Oh dear! I'm not sure that the PS is hitting the right spot judging by the overwhelming negativity in our colleagues comments. Do the comments in this blog (it's like a poll!) offer a true reflection of how the vast majority of Civil Servants feel right now? Not surprisingly, pay, pensions and terms & conditions are at the forefront of the conflict once again with a sprinkling of other concerns and views.

    Mind you, what does one expect? Taking the strain of all the woe's in society over recent times, this is certainly how it feels when one reads some of the reports in the media, has had a tremendous impact on a great number of people, many of whom probably work hard and expect just rewards and not the threat of the 'Spanish Inquisition' at every turn - sorry, a Monty Python moment! Mind you, they are doing OK...the media likes them because they are not Civil Servants!

    Wouldn’t it be marvellous if there was something for Civil Servants to be really positive about that would offer a real boost to our battle-weary colleagues, and I don't mean more messages from the Prime Minister (and I like David Cameron) and Nick Clegg telling everyone what a great job we are all doing in difficult times etc. when on the other hand the Civil Service has been pounded on the front line. Unfortunately, there is a still a sense of foreboding, negativity and uncertainty in the trenches and going on what we read in the media about many more years of austerity, well, morale will continue to slide when we think that the good old Civil Service will be there to soak up the punches.

    It's good to read other peoples comments and points-of-view but presented in a respectful, professional manner.

  48. Comment by Matt Kerlogue posted on

    I lead the team in the Cabinet Office that coordinates and manages the People Survey across the whole Civil Service and I think it’s great that just a few hours after publishing the results people from across the Civil Service are already discussing them.

    It is important to highlight that today's publication is just the first release of results from the survey. In the coming weeks your department or agency will be sharing and discussing their overall results, well as sharing team level results with you. After this internal dissemination has been completed, as in previous years, we will be publishing a comparative dataset of all organisations’ scores at the end of January. It’s only a few weeks since the survey closed so we’re just beginning to look at the results and understand what they mean. Sir Bob specifically references in his blog post that the scores on leadership and managing change just aren't good enough, so I don’t think it’s fair to say senior leaders are trying to hide from these figures.

    I’d like to assure everyone that we take a rigorous approach to ensuring the results are statistically robust. To address Sofia’s specific concerns about using median scores, the People Survey was conducted in 98 departments and executive agencies ranging in size from less than 100 people to more than 100,000 people. It is industry-standard practice when looking at the results of a group of organisations to report median scores, and ensures that we aren't just looking at the results of our largest organisations. When we publish the comparative dataset of department and agency scores we will also publish results by demographics; you may be interested in pages 14 to 17 of our 2012 summary of findings report ( which shows the results of analysis to look at the differences between different demographic characteristics.

    Encouragingly the median response rate across organisations rose to 78% from 77% last year, while in two-thirds of organisations more than 60% of people took part and in only 8 organisations was the response rate below 50%. This overall picture and some of our more detailed analysis of the response rates gives us confidence that the benchmark scores can be robustly compared to scores in previous years.

    As well as coordinating the survey my team also supports sharing of knowledge and best practice between the 98 participating departments and agencies and there are many great examples of where the survey does have a positive impact.
    A "Director's Den" held at VOSA to find corporate sponsors for projects on the themes of 'keeping people connected', 'harnessing good ideas from staff' and 'giving people recognition for a job well done. Job swaps in a directorate of HM Courts and Tribunals Service to help policy and operational staff understand each other's roles. Having a 'board observers' scheme in FCO where any member of staff can sit in on boards and committees and see how decisions are made. Peer reviewing of action plans in HM Passport Office to identify common challenges and locate best practice case studies.

    Finally, the People Survey isn't just about how senior leaders respond it’s there to help people at all levels of the organisation to take action to make their organisation a great place to work. For example, over the past few years in the Cabinet Office there have been a wide range of bottom-up projects that have been started by staff to deal with some of the issues that are directly or indirectly manifested in our People Survey results, such: randomised coffee trials, “Policy School”, peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, and the soon to launch Cabinet Office Alumni Network.

    • Replies to Matt Kerlogue>

      Comment by Sofia S posted on

      I do appreciate the fact that you took the time to reply to my email. I am , on the whole, reasonably content with my job within the Civil Service, although I can identify with some of the problems raised in this blog. I can also appreciate the reasons why some people do post passionate comments; I am certainly reading them with interest and reflecting them on my own experiences.

      However, I am slightly less content with the fact that I am still not 100% sure as to what it is that I am seeing in the results..... This is not to say that the results haven't been handled according to industry standards, it is just the specific chosen techniques that cause me some confusion. I am very keen to ensure that I understand the results correctly and do not get drawn to the wrong conclusions.

      In any case, I have gone through the results document with my line manager, and we both feel that the 'technical notes' confuse the matter, therefore, we are not certain as to whether the scores in fact are even median scores:
      " Except for the engagement index (see note 4) the result for each of the headline themes is calculated as the percentage of "strongly agree" or "agree" responses to all questions in that theme."
      This statement has lead me to wonder if the scores are in fact just the combined positive responses. This would be quite easy to understand.

      I would be grateful for clarification; specifically, if the results shown are the median scores, then I would be very interested in better understanding the meaning of technical note 1.

      I am hope that I am not just missing the obvious point here....and if I am , I am happy to be put straight!

    • Replies to Matt Kerlogue>

      Comment by David Nutter posted on

      Sir Bob's acolyte from the Cabinet Office will never win the Campaign for Plain English award. Typical Civil Service speak designed to bamboozle, and, in the end, meaning nothing.
      The majority of staff are not interested in this gentleman's hyperbole designed to confuse. They want honest to goodness fair dealing, which seems singularly absent.

  49. Comment by Colin posted on

    Ihave read the results of this year's survey and have to say I am neither surprisd nor shocked. The whole survey is a shambles,results are twisted to put a positive spin oneverything & senior managers pay lip service to the results If Sir Bob Kerslake is really serious [and I am not holding my breath] then these managers need a shake up. I have to say that in the 11 years I have been in the civil service morale has never been lower & that is before pay & conditions are taken into account. The reality is staff are leaving in droves because managers will not listen.

  50. Comment by Robin posted on

    So 27,000 civil servants feel they have been discriminated against and a futher 27,000 feel they have been bullied - what a great place we all work in.
    What about a comment on that Sir Bob?

  51. Comment by Toby posted on

    Sir Bob, any comment re the following results:

    B37. I feel my pay adequately reflects my performance 29%
    B38. I am satisfied with the total benefits package 32%
    B39. Compared to people doing a similar job in other organisations I feel my pay is reasonable 25%

    Link here:

    As a set of results those look pretty damning. Loud and clear: LESS THAN ONE THIRD OF YOUR STAFF THINK THEY ARE PAID SUITABLY!

    As these results are civil service wide I would expect the numbers of satisfied people to drop even further when the department I am in is examined in isolation. We are one of those departments that have had spine points and any form of inflation increases removed for years.

    A simple question then: what do you intend to do about this?

  52. Comment by Bob Kerslake posted on

    Hello all,

    I wanted to respond to the comments many of you have made on pay, terms and conditions and pensions. I recognise that this is a very sensitive issue.

    The Government has made some really tough choices in order to address the budget deficit and public sector pay restraint is one of these. Tough choices on pay will help protect jobs within the budgets that Departments have to work within. Within the limits set by Government, Departments have taken steps to protect the lowest paid – including guaranteed pay uplifts of at least £250 during the pay freeze.

    I want to reassure you that I do understand times are tough for many Civil Servants. However, it is important to remember that the overall package of benefits offered to Civil Servants is still a good offer.


    • Replies to Bob Kerslake>

      Comment by Toby posted on

      So a "I can't do anything about the freeze so stop whining" response then, ta muchly. Sir Bob, with the greatest of respect, you DO have enough clout to do something about it. Go back to the Government and rock their boat about the constant degradation of civil service pay and T&C's. If the Cabinet Office won't pony up the money, they should expect output to go down in the long term.

      Oh and while you're at it tell them to do something about the constant kicking that civil servants receive in the media without be able to defend themselves.

      • Replies to Toby>

        Comment by Carl posted on

        Toby - I agree with you.
        Many individuals at a senior level could defend the Civil Service - but choose not to because it is politically and career convenient. It would be good if someone 'made a stand' and supported the current T and C's and supported pay progression and inclusion. In any event all changes could be managed and communicated much much better.

        • Replies to Carl>

          Comment by Toby posted on

          Carl: And there in lies on of the main problems with the SCS. It is seen as career limiting to not tow the line that "civil servants are bad and must be punished, private sector are the saviour etc etc". If just one of the SCS with enough clout had a decent backbone and the courage to turn round to the government and say "No, you will not impose any more diktats from the top to hard working rank and file civil servants, and if you do so, expect outputs to drop and sevices to be unavailable" we wouldn't be 15% or more behind our private sector equivilants at this time. Never going to happen though, as it far easier to buckle under and push it off to the next person who will rotate to the post in 2-3 years (or less)

    • Replies to Bob Kerslake>

      Comment by Scott Nelson posted on

      Public Sector workers didn't cause the deficit, so why are we being held responsible for it? I note that my post which I submitted yesterday hasn't appeared on here - is this because senior managers don't like to hear the truth? If so, then this is a clear case of censorship.

      • Replies to Scott Nelson>

        Comment by Moderator posted on

        Unfortunately your previous comment had to be moderated out as it breached the Civil Service Code. You can find out more about the code at

        • Replies to Moderator>

          Comment by Scott Nelson posted on

          Thank you for getting back to me.

          Like my colleagues throughout the Civil Service I am very passionate about what I do. I very much care about my customers and the work that I do. The issue of pay, pensions and the ever-changing Terms and Conditions of employment are very sensitive areas for many of us as shown in the responses posted on here.

          It really is a great shame that so many Civil Servants are very unhappy which is reflected in staff morale (as shown on here). I do have issues with how changes implemented to the the benefit system are affecting customers because I care. Very much. That is why my initial post was somewhat emotional, but no offence was intended on my part, and I apologise if this is how my post came across. I'll be in the line of fire now!

          As for Sir Bob's response to the concerns and issues raised about pay (and I am very grateful for his input), I think the replies he has received sum up the true feeling of many Civil Servants.

          • Replies to Scott Nelson>

            Comment by Moderator posted on

            Not a problem at all - these are topics that are close to civil servants hearts.

    • Replies to Bob Kerslake>

      Comment by David posted on

      thank you for this reply – it would have been good to see this acknowledgement up front in the article.

      I do believe that overall we have a good employment offer, but it's also clear that this survey has consistently highlighted pay and benefits as an issue for staff – we shouldn’t ignore it!

    • Replies to Bob Kerslake>

      Comment by Neil Sutherland posted on

      I'd love to know what comparators Sir Bob is using to justify the statement that the overall benefits package is good. Those of us who have worked for large employers in the private sector are used to much better treatment - both in pay and conditions.

  53. Comment by Henry Bottomley posted on

    It contains a typo but the reporting of question W04 amused me:

    "Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday? (0=not at all happy, 10=completely anxious)"

    with 0 to 3 being reported as positive results.

  54. Comment by Charles posted on

    Well, you all make it sound a real privilege to work in my neck of the woods. We do try stuff out, we do actively engage each other and our managements, we do actively ensure bullying and harrassment just has no place if one wants to get stuff done by a willing crew.

    - and on the stats, it is really interesting to understand how the spread and skewness changes over time. Taking just the median really hides all the other things going on. Getting rid of the tails of unhappiness may make no difference to the median but sure is a big change for the unhappy end group.

    But yes the pay bit is disappointing.

  55. Comment by gareth posted on

    every year i look forward to the results only to see every year that the issues we have are over looked so the seniors can focus only on the positive areas ,there is low morale esp in contact centres where there is constant change very little effective communication no incentive very little respect given now at local levels agents and team leaders work together to make local changes but these are not accepted at higher levels !! whilst i accept we should recognise things that have gone well there should be a bigger push on our failings as this is what the public know about read about and have experienced oh and a bigger pay rise would be appreciatted

  56. Comment by D Allan posted on

    Lets evaluate a few things statistical variation ,the highlighted issues have improved by minor amounts 1,2,3 % points from low base levels so may be absorbed by the natural variation inherent in these samples. The real issues i.e. the treatment by politicians of our pay and conditions are resolutely ignored, IGNORED again and again. FTSE 100 Directors pay up 14% this year hmmmmmm... so it is sad that nothing is being done to address these real issues.

  57. Comment by Chris posted on

    Sir Bob,
    I'm sorry but £250 a year 'unconsolidated' does nothing to tackle the issue of our pay falling, in real terms, for many 10 years. How long will it be before we receive a 'consolidated' pay award? This is just not fair.
    I appreciate that the Government has had to make some tough choices. I and many others are having to live with those 'tough choices'.
    Government pay constraints are difficult to accept but, matters ares made worse by Departmental SCS's making very poor decisions on how to spend the 1% budget increases allowed by the Chancellor. The Chancellor seems to think that by increasing the Dept Salary Budget by 1%, we will all receive a 1% pay increase. This is not the case.
    In the VOA this year some staff received over 3% and others received nothing. Due to poor desicions taken by SCS's in the VOA, year after year, staff on the Max have not received a pay award for 5 years. Considering how our job has changed in those 5 years, how fair is that?

  58. Comment by Mike posted on

    Agree 100% with Jon Weston. Joined Civil Service 7 years ago - worst move ever made in my life. Again if age were no against me - would leave like a shot. Not only would I never encourage anyone to join the Civil Service I would actively persuade them against. Having worked for 40 years in the 'real world' at very senior levels I cannot beleive the lack of ability and professionalism from so called Senior Civil Servants. I view confirmed by the ridiculous spin they have tried to put on the survey results.

  59. Comment by Stewart posted on

    Why should any staff take any real interest in the survey results, the leadership concentrates, only only the good points, do not tackle the main problems, faced by the rank and file in the civil service, why should they they are not in the same position. The fact that the survey is not a true representative of employees, as it doesn't work any response that is neutral, having no strong feelings one way or another, is taken as a negative,. Just shows that as a whole the civil service could not give a damn about your thoughts !!

  60. Comment by A concerned Civil Servant posted on

    Well done you all, for having the courage to voice your concerns. I echo your views and personally speaking would like to leave the civil service as soon as possible.

    I have worked in 5 departments over the course of 7 years and pretty much it has been same story - lack of opportunities, incompetent managers, unfair and biased recruitment of staff etc.

    Trust me, most of the managers who work in the civil service lack common sense. I think we need to have an open and honest conversation about where the civil service is heading.

  61. Comment by David posted on

    The consensus of opinion on ths blog seems to be that the survey questions are designed in such away, and then the results manipulated, to produce a positive glow of achievement and self-congratulation. I think that the questions have always been couched in terms to evince a more favourable outcome, but a few years ago there used to be more free text fields where we could give a genuine opinion to supplement the answers that did not properly encapsulate our views. But those opportunities have been disappearing.

    So I welcome this blog where people can give their honest opinion. But why wasn't this opportunity in the survey? I suspect that this blog will only attrract negative veiws, but that they are more honest and open than the discredited survey. There is more to be learnt from honest complaints and negatives (although I accept they are difficult to respond to and you can never please everyone) than from obviously induced positives and the silence of the masses that believe they would be wasting their breath.
    Only listening to good news leads to disaster.
    I hope there will be an opportunity like this next year.

  62. Comment by Nick posted on

    I did not complete the survey this year as i was disappointed with the spin placed on it last year. I can see it has been the same this year. Pay is not acknowledged and we keep being told we have a good benefits package. Good in comparison to what. Im getting more work and more stress than ever,targets are increasingly important. Im carrying out work that used to be done by an EO. I dont lament the fact im not on there wage but my wage has not increased in years.

    I understand the austerity measures but no one in the SCS does a thing to help. Every month is a struggle to make ends meet and some times i cant figure out how ive managed it.

    Please have a backbone and and get this sorted.

  63. Comment by Chris B posted on

    Dear Bob

    "it is important to remember that the overall package of benefits offered to Civil Servants is still a good offer"

    A good offer as compared to what though? ONS statistics show that public sector workers have borne the brunt, and continue to bear the brunt, of government austerity policies. Does this really come down to the 'you should be glad you have a job' line again? How can anyone be truly engaged in what they do, when all we have left as far as 'reward' goes is to look forwards to the next round of job losses, or if we are very lucky, yet another year of stagnant or reduced wages due to another round of increased pensions contributions, and an ever increasing retirement age, against a backdrop of increasing cost of living? Are we really all now expected to go looking for jobs outside the public sector just so we can make ends meet? Whatever happened to being able to train, specialize, and make a career out of working in public services? Where is the incentive now for anyone to commit to a career in the Civil Service?

  64. Comment by Mike posted on

    I've been filling out surveys for the best part of 20 years and nothing has improved. I've been waiting 7 months to be notified what new job i'll be doing after my role went to CCD. At present i'm scratching around for work with no prospect of any outcome. It galls me a bit that we are told to fill out a survey and paint a picture of everything being rosy when nobody has had the decency for 7 months to advise me whats going on.

  65. Comment by Bill posted on

    I have found reading this fascinating. One thing is for sure Bob, you can say all you want about the low pay and managing the economy but seriosly, do you think the economic resurgence is due to suppressing a decent standard of living from civil servants? We have year on year been tasked with reducing waste and expenditure, year on year we have achieved this. Our thanks...? A loss in earnings. The treatment of civil servants pay stems from the years of abuse from the media about profligacy in the civil service that only sat at the top. While the media lambasted ALL civil servants, no one defended the fact a large majority have to claim the very benefits thay are paid to administer to the public. As a result of this, policy has been enacted to appease the media. Bob tells us about the need for pay constraint? Can I ask if he receieved just £250 as a pay award this year? The way this survey has been received by Bob and his cohorts and the way the have discussed the results highlights all that is bad about the civil service management. If it looks like tea, smells like tea and says tea, in most areas of life, theres a good chance it is tea.

    According to Senior Civil Service management, it's probably coffee. It is this detachment from reality that will always hinder staff opinion and trust..

    • Replies to Bill>

      Comment by David Nutter posted on

      Is Sir Bob proud of the fact that, in a recently published report by the Union (which has not been refuted by the Department), over 40% of the staff processing Universal Credit are obliged to claim the self same benefit. Good benefits package, I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

  66. Comment by Colin posted on

    Icommented yesterday before Sir Bob's reply. Having now read his reply I can only say he does not live in the same world as me or any other of the people who have commented. We DO NOT have either fair nor generous pay & conditions. Sir Bob also comments that the tough choices taken will protect jobs.....What rubbish,given the department I work in wants to shed 1700 more jobs. So sorry Sir Bob your comments are an insult to all the hard working staff like myself who have seen there pay & conditions eroded to such an extent as to make them virtually worthless

  67. Comment by diane posted on

    Does anyone know if we pay the company in charge of the survey? and if we do (which i suspect we must) how much they charge us??

  68. Comment by Leon K posted on

    Dear Sir Bob
    Whilst It's good to find positives. You lose credibility by ignoring the negatives.So many colleagues are disillusioned. We have to increasingly resemble the least desirable parts of outside industry. Want promotion? Okay lose one and a half days holiday and never pass beyond the salary minimum. Public service ethos, civil service values, professionalism
    are valued but the workforce is increasingly running on empty. It's all stick and no carrot?

  69. Comment by Chris B posted on

    Thanks for this. I haven't laughed so much in a long time. In all seriousness though, the direction the Civil Service is looking to move with regard to pay and conditions is a massive step backwards. The sheer fact that each statement regarding the survey is carefully reframed in order to portray a positive view speaks volumes, and people see through this (As is evident in the majority of the above replies).

  70. Comment by Chris Last posted on

    Given the variety of work we all carry out in the Civil Service, it's actually more difficult than you would think to always make direct salary comparisons with the private sector. It's important to take the whole package, including our pensions and other terms and conditions, into account. On this basis, even now, the total reward package is competitive for most civil servants.

    Chris Last, Head of Civil Service HR

    • Replies to Chris Last>

      Comment by Carl posted on

      But what about the other points;

      1. Increased pension contributions
      2. Pay freeze for a number of years.
      3. No progression through various pay points or spine points
      4. Flexi-time arrangements probably under review
      5. Regional pay been investigated
      6. Civil service redundancies (or reform) depending on your point of view
      7. The move to (Privatisation route like the Royal Mail)
      8. Outsourcing / Shared services
      9. Anyhting else that I have probably not listed.

    • Replies to Chris Last>

      Comment by Bill posted on

      We are taking the whole package, which leads to be puzzling why, considering that better pensions have long been a substitute for better pay, why the pension contributions are increasing for worse pension conditions, under the umbrella of a modern employment offer to come into line with the private sector, whilst our pay remains stagnant.

      But, we are seeing the pay scales removed, so I take it that this means that we will see the flat rate brought in at the going rate for the job, approaching the top of our curren scales?

    • Replies to Chris Last>

      Comment by Chris B posted on

      Our 'other terms and conditions' have been pared back to absolute minimum, much less than employers such as Marks and Spencers and John Lewis, or even Fujitsu, offer their staff. Our pensions have been downgraded along with our pay, and the Cabinet office is even now apparently quibbling over a proposed 1% pay increase for staff after a two year freeze.

      So who exactly are we competitive with? I'd really like to know what benchmarking criteria has been used, because I think many of us believe that the lowest possible denominator has been used in all cases.

      • Replies to Chris B>

        Comment by Bill posted on

        I know a few people who asked the question of who we were benchmarked against. Funnily enough, this information is very difficult, nay impossible, to get hold of.

      • Replies to Chris B>

        Comment by Jo N posted on

        Chris, you're pitching way too high, M&S, John Lewis???? Poundland, Home Bargains and Pizza Hut would be a fairer comparison, not to mention Zero Hour contracts.

        • Replies to Jo N>

          Comment by Neil Sutherland posted on

    • Replies to Chris Last>

      Comment by Mike posted on

      Given the disparity in pay between departments and even amongst the same grades, its even more difficult to make comparison with the private sector. The bottom line is , why should I be worse off , in real terms, for continuing to work hard year in year out?

      On a different note , Robert Devereux states on the intranet " our response rate was 62 per cent, only a few points down on last year". I havent seen much prominence given to this and it seemed to be tucked away. How many points was it down and what conclusion can we draw from this?

      • Replies to Mike>

        Comment by Syl posted on

        62% of a smaller workforce speaks for itself.

  71. Comment by Craig posted on

    I am Civil Servant with 20+ years service. Having read these threads in conjunction with the survey results I am increasingly depressed by the blinkered view from SCS which is completely at odds with the real world.
    What disappoints me the most is the lack of challenge from SCS against government policy.
    Why is this?
    To draw a parallel, did Sir Jock Stirrup (the former head of the armed services) have the same fears/restrictions to positively challenge government policy when he believed the terms and conditions of persons in his charge were sadly lacking? By this I refer to his challenge against the government regarding lack of basic equipment to deployed personnel.

  72. Comment by John Dawson posted on

    I work for the Pension Service. My particular office usually (in my time here) finishes bottom of our class. We have, in recent years, received the message that we shouldn't be too negative in our survey responses as it could affect the future of our centre. We have just been told that we are to join the CMG in April 2014, where there is enough work to last until 2017. I am of course highly motivated by this statement and the fact that some of our senior managers (having had prior notice) have already jumped ship. Of course I can be considered naive - i asked a few months ago during a team meeting if senior managers would resign if survey results did not improve - I didn't know they had already put on the lifejackets!

  73. Comment by Patrick posted on

    Picking up on Sir Bob's point about innovation and taking risks, one option to address the perennially low scores when it comes to people management is to put excellent people managers into positions of authority. As it stands, the Civil Service rigidly links where you stand in the hierarchy (your grade) and what you are paid; furthermore, we promote people primarily on their ability to produce outputs/manage the production of outputs. Rising up the grade structure tends to bring with it ever increasing responsibility for leading and managing the human capital on which our performance depends but this is conferred irrespective of whether someone's core strengths are in this area. Couldn't we be smarter about recognising and utilising people's strengths? There are some excellent people managers in the Civil Service just as there are excellent project and business as usal managers. There are, however, very few people who genuinely excel in both areas (or, at least, who have the necessary time & energy to do both really well). If we want to engage staff, those who can do it well and have a genuine passion for it should be placed in a position of authority. That's not to say others no longer have any responsibility for leading and managing their colleagues. But is it really going too far to hope that, in future, Civil Service departments and the units that make them up could be led by people with strong leadership and people management skills and yet the authority they carry doesn't necessarily mean they are paid more than those managing projects or BAU and who "report" to them. Pay, after all, should be a function of the demands and complexity of a specific role and the availability of skills to perform it.

  74. Comment by Sarah posted on

    The striking thing about the survey is how little the results have changed over the last five years apart from a significant deterioration in pay and benefits scores, which were already poor. Sir Bob finds it ‘encouraging’ that learning and development scores are up, but these scores are all actually lower than five years ago. It seems he is a little too easily encouraged while failing to see the blindingly obvious fact that, yet again, the survey is reflecting enormous problems within the Civil Service. Any actions taken in past years as a result of the survey have obviously failed meaning a completely new approach is needed. Unfortunately I see no indication that Sir Bob recognises this. If we all underperformed in this way, year after year, our public services would collapse. It’s time to take responsibility, behave like a good modern employer, stop looking to the worst of the private sector, and start offering something positive after years of degrading pay, benefits, conditions and career prospects. If a couple of percentage points on dismal scores that have remained more or less the same over the past five years, with an overall decrease, is spun as some kind of success story then I really don’t think I’ll bother completing the survey next year as it’s obviously pointless.

  75. Comment by Chris posted on

    Sir Bob,
    I have just read the VOA People Survey results and the VOA CEO seems to be grasping at the same straws as your good self.
    I cannot comment on the results in other CS Depts but if I were in charge of the CS and I had noted the very poor opinion that the VOA staff have of the VOA SCS's, I would be asking some questions. Believe me, the poor results are not entirely due to the recent Pay & Grading Review. VOA staff's opinion of those in charge at the VOA has been deteriorating steadily over the past few years. In my opinion, you need to be asking why?

    • Replies to Chris>

      Comment by Alan posted on

      Chris, those depts lurking at the bottom have been there for a while. You would have thought someone somewhere would have been asking questions long before now.

  76. Comment by Davydh posted on

    Having spent an hour with a calculator, I couldn't figure how my Department's "engagement index" had been derived from the results for its constituent questions. The methodology is the opposite of transparent and the indicator thus appears devoid of verifiable and credible meaning. What does an engagement index of 52% actually mean in real-world terms and how do these results translate into action? How much meaning can this headline index truly have, when 90% of the questions on the survey are excluded from its calculation (including, for example, the bullying stats, which remain stubbornly static at 10% year after year)? I should also like to know what controls are in place to prevent polling of 'ghost' staff members, and whether there is any form of independent audit of the survey's design and conduct. I fear this survey is a costly, ineffective and reductionist exercise in futility. It changes nothing.

    • Replies to Davydh>

      Comment by Paul Allan posted on

      There does seem to be a problem with "ghost staff members" A number of sites (specifically JCP District offices) had completion rates well in excess of 100%. The highest I recall was 115%.
      Anyone care to comment on what might have happened there ?

    • Replies to Davydh>

      Comment by Matt Kerlogue posted on

      Pages 41-49 of our 2012 summary of findings ( provides some technical details about the survey, including at page 47 how we calculate the engagement index and on page 48 how this relates to the other measures in the survey.

      There's a strong correlation (0.7494) between the engagement index and a score that is calculated as a simple sum of all the questions. Interestingly the benchmark figure for this new score is 61% not 58%.

      I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "ghost" members of staff - unfortunately it is very easy for people to use an incorrect team code. The survey doesn't capture any unique information about respondents so this can't be corrected for after the results.

      Separately in relation to Paul's point about response rates over 100%, this could either be due to the issue outlined above of people using the wrong code, or that departments and agencies have supplied incorrect headcount data for that team.

      • Replies to Matt Kerlogue>

        Comment by Davydh posted on

        Thanks for taking the trouble to reply, Matt. The absence of unique information on respondents is a two-edged sword - while it safeguards respondents' privacy, it also surely means the primary data is immune from effective validation. What I mean by 'ghost' respondents is this - not all email addresses in a Department's domain are associated with civil servants who are still on payroll when the survey rolls out. I was surprised to find out quite how many dormant (and even never-used) accounts of this type there were on my Department's system - I won't say how many. This would appear to present a theoretical risk of 'ballot-box stuffing', unless of course your survey mailer is primed with the email addresses taken from last month's payroll files. Unless a preventive control like this is in place, it is hard to see how we can place much confidence in data quality, because (given what you have said) there is no possibility of detecting 'ghost' responses.

        It is not just the occasional response rate over 100% that raised doubts in my mind - it was the combination of response rates which, in my Department, seem to have been very high across the board (nearly 90% on average, much higher than previously) and results which were - with very few exceptions - more positive than last year's.

        I read the explanatory notes before trying to validate our engagement index, but I found they were not sufficiently explicit. I am not sure I would describe a 75% correlation as 'very strong' - I would rather say it was 'significant'. But if the sum of the average scores over all the questions is seen as a benchmark for testing the meaningfulness of the engagement index, would it not be so much more transparent and understandable to replace that highly selective measure with the sum of the average scores over all questions? Such an approach would recognise that all questions carried equal weight - a little simplistic, perhaps, but at least this would not be reductionist in the way that the engagement index is.

      • Replies to Matt Kerlogue>

        Comment by Paul Allan posted on

        Yes , but I don't understand why JCP District offices would be any more likely to input the wrong code or have inaccurate headcount figures than JCP local offices.

        You would expect a certain amount of those errors but you'd expect them to occur at about the same level across all types of sites ; rather than in a cluster at one type of site.

  77. Comment by Mike R posted on

    On the positive side. In years to come we will be able to sit our grandchildren on our knee and tell them the real story behind the Decline and Demise of the Civil Service. Although, they will probably think it's a Fairy Tale, and nothing like it could happen in REAL LIFE.

  78. Comment by John posted on

    The low figures on challenging decision making and policy do reflect the current state as it is seen as being negative and against the behaviour we are expected to demonstrate under the new performance management reviews. We are mean't to be constructive and positive although this can be difficult when the decision has already being made and cannot be changed without long term data collection.

  79. Comment by andy posted on

    I have just read the article by Robert Devereux, regarding the survey. He states that "DWP baseline spend £1.9 billion lower in 13-14 than 09-10; cumulative saving of £7.4 billion in real terms since Election".
    I was under the impression that we were not party polictical, however this statement implies all the good work done in the last few years is down to the result of the election.
    I know we are not allowed to be party political and would hope that no one else would be.

  80. Comment by Andrew posted on

    Whilst accepting the need for fiscal prudence in the current financial crisis after 40 years service I approach retirement next year with dismay. The pay restrictions imposed over the past few years has led to a lower than expected Civil Service Pension and Lump Sum. Non consolidated payments and other "package of benefits offered to Civil Servants" won't help those, like myself, facing retirement in the near future.

    • Replies to Andrew>

      Comment by Jo N posted on

      My sympathy. This is a 'double whammy' probably overlooked by many. I will retire at the end of January 2014. I found a pension statement from 5 years ago and the projected salary at that time was far higher than it will be when I actually retire. Whereas I left behind a private sector pension in 1984, I never considered it for consolidation.(thankfull) I was quite amazed to find that my fund has increased at the rate of 8.5% per year since then!! I know that such generosity will never be seen again but it does indicate how things have deterioated in 20 years.

  81. Comment by Andrew Minney posted on

    I have read the above replies with the growing discovery that I am not alone! I have felt for some time that these surveys were a waste of time. Any problems get brushed under the carpet and too much attention is spent "looking nice" than doing the job. It will be the last time I shall complete the survey unless there is a considerable improvement. It seems that unless what the staff says is what senior management wants to hear, they ignore it.
    I don't knw about others, but I am heartily sick of being constantly asked by (what seems to be) a weak management "How are we doing?" To quote an early Fleetwood Mac song "Don't ask me what I think of you I may not give you the answer that you want me to."

    • Replies to Andrew Minney>

      Comment by Nervous Nellie posted on

      Whilst I agree with the above comments about not being allowed to make constructive criticism or not having the 'voice' to suggest improvements into management, I feel that we should remember that the Cabinet Office is a long way removed from most of our ordinaru places fo work, and thus they cannot individually manage and monitor every place of work. I have had the misfortune of working in a truly disfunctional organisation full of backstabbing and harassment: I doubt the staff and management there take much notice of initiatives from the top level, and will continue to tread on any staff who dare to make their voices heard. I cannot blame the Cabinet Office or the PUS for the behaviour of these managers; the only thing I can blame them for is not giving junior management like myself to opportunity to escalate these issues as far up the food chain as needed, until someone does take notice and intervene.
      On the other hand, I now work in a much more pleasant environment, where my B2 manager does a pretty good job and is one of the few people who want to make a change. Unfortunately, the B1 above him is pretty useless, and several members of the senior management of the organisation only make noise when it serves their own agenda. Meanwhile, the lower grades like myself take the brunt of lack of management, direction and discipline. It was one of the B1 grades who told me that you either want to be an admin grade and just do as you're told, or need to get to B1 where you can do the telling; otherwise you will just go from one crisis to another, everything will be blamed on you and you will have no power to do anything about it.

  82. Comment by David Kelly posted on

    I declined to complete the peoples survey this year as i feared the results however bad would be portrayed as encouraging and the negatives completely ignored. Sir Bobs comments suggest i may be right. Dress it up however you like your not fooling anyone. The real concerns and issues for the majority of the workforce on the frontline - (the future of HMRC) are once again swept under the carpet. Actions speak louder than words.
    However since negative comments tend to be frowned upon and may result in me receiving an "improvement needed marking", i would like to congratulate senior managment for being more visible, this is a fantastic achievement. For them to take time out from there busy schedule of meetings and other important matters to visit our office (which is closing) for one day a month makes it all worth while and can only inspire us all to work even harder for less money.

  83. Comment by Disillusioned posted on

    I didn't think that I was the only one who was disgruntled but my faith has been lifted by CS colleagues who clearly, from what I have read so far on here, are unhappy in their droves!!

    I have been a CServant in MOJ for nearly 8 years after a lifetime in the private sector and if I could leave and go back there I most certainly would. Age, sadly, restricts me now.

    I earned more 20 years ago than I do now. In this CS life I am an F grade, which really should be taken literally! I am at the high end of my scale but still earn so little that I have to receive tax credits!! Even with this benefit, sadly, I do not take home a living wage for a single adult. My youngest son, in his gap year last year, took more home than me, working in a shoe shop and he didn't receive bonuses!!

    Why do I work so hard in a job which is public facing and requires high discretion and responsibility to get paid such a pittance??!! My grown up children are completely baffled as to why I am so badly paid and tell me I should get out and earn a decent wage. Difficult at 55 years of age, I tell them.

    My pension contributions have increased to an amount that would pay my weekly grocery bill. My rent and council tax, per month, are more than £100 over half of my take home pay per month!!

    Becoming a CServant was a shock not only pay wise but more so coming to terms with the way things work regarding managers and team leaders who are so inadequate in their jobs, do not have people skills and who if put into the same role in the private sector would be dismissed for incompetency within a few weeks! And yet, they are kept in their posts and respected by their managers who are equally as inadequate. Why are these people allowed to stay in their jobs? At my level we are talked down to as if we are children. We are expected to give everything and receive nothing, not even praise for a job well done. The pettiness of these said managers is comparable to days at school amongst insolent teenagers. Bullying and harrassment is most certainly not addressed between colleagues when reported to these so called people managers who can only answer "there are a lot of strong personalities here"!!! Not my problem! A manger's problem!

    Oh I could go on and on but why would I??? Nothing will ever change here for the lower grade CServant! If I could afford to walk away I would be gone tomorrow but I cannot as I have rent to be paid, never mind the increasing gas and electricity bills. What has happened to our country?? Why do we not get paid for a decent day's work anymore?

  84. Comment by Richard posted on

    Ther is a lot of negativity on this blog, and I can't say it surprises me. Whilst Civil Servants on the one hand are told they're doing a valuable job etc, on the other hand there has been a constant barrage on our Ts & Cs. Amongst the worst for me is the "Great Pension Con". Back in the early 2000s I was told I could choose from a range of pension products and that it would not be changed in the future. At the time I decided to stay on Classic, paying contributions at 1.5% Fast forward to today, my pension contributions have tripled (and we haven't even finished), but I have had no benefit from this as the extra money has not gone to my pension. So, where exactly has it gone? It's akin to a bank asking you to increase mortgage repayments, but then keeping the money for themselves............

  85. Comment by Bill Fairfoull posted on

    I have just celebrated 30 years in the CS and I have been fortunate enough never to have had one day off sick - so hopefully nobody can fault my committment. I have been through a number of change initiatives however I found the results of the CS survey very disappointing.
    The CS is constantly having to react to Government policies. Nobody likes to implement cuts nor we may not agree with them however we are Civil Servants and it is our job to not to let any personal agendas get in the way. .
    One of the positives from this year is the focus on behaviours in the competence framework that has been rolled out accross all CS departments. We saw last weekend the importnace of "getting on with people" from Baroness Ashton in her negotiations over Iran. Sadly this iseems to be lacking accross certain management areas within the CS. This must be overcome if we are to move towards a fully integrated CS.
    For the second year running I have answered the survey very honestly and I know that last year this failing was dismissed as the staff being "over sensitive". If you analyse the results the poor performance cannot be put down to Change, Pay or conditions but how people are made to feel. We need staff to feel valued and also be supported in innovation . These are not just words but real behaviours we need to see change in middle/senior managers. I hope I will see some improvements this year but i am not holding my breath. If there are then I am sure we (yes "we) will see a vast improvment in future survey results. Another plus is the use of social media. Like it or not - it is now a bona fide way of comunicating. The only down side is that have to access "twitter" through my personal account and not through my workstation. yours in hope.........

  86. Comment by C Cubed posted on

    I am always disappointed that we are only asked: (My Ministry) motivates me to do a good job..
    if the question was broken down into two or three parts:
    My Team motivates me to do a good job (deliberatly NOT team leader)
    My Customer motivates me to do a good job (may be of particular relevance in MoD)
    (My Ministry) motivates me to do a good job

    The responses would be very different. My ministry is a demotivator but my customenrs deserve and get the best that I and my team can deliver with the resources we have.

  87. Comment by Mel posted on

    I’m sorry, I thought you were firstly going to reflect on our strengths and then discuss where improvements were needed? the 'pay issue' for example? You seemed to have ignored the latter...start as you mean to go on I guess! Maybe you will do something about it once all the trained and dependable staff have left for better pay and conditions and the quality of work starts to suffer...or maybe when management cant tick all the boxes they need to anymore and start to miss out on their fat bonuses! attention will have to be paid at some point! Just a thought!

  88. Comment by Andrew posted on

    I didn't complete the people survey as I am deeply suspicious of it. If the Government starts sacking the chief executives who are overseeing these miserable results year on year I might have some faith in them.

  89. Comment by Paul posted on

    Staff survey themes:
    London/Upper management dont listen to staff on the ground that do the work, or get their views before changinging things: Result > No effective changes to this way of doing things over the years.

    The Department needs simpler systems and procedures: Result > Caseflow and a Performance System that defies logic for its complexity and consumption of staff's time.

    Pay is poor and getting poorer in comparison to the cost of living year by year: Result > No change

    Staff have no faith in the staff survey: Result > No changes, same sceptical comments keep coming.

    Apathy for the staff survey is everywhere and in my own section I know many just ignore it:
    Is it kept on just for political correctness? Or should we do the decent thing and let it die a natural death?
    The themes above have been ongoing as long as Ive been here. I dont expect any changes,and I am not dissapointed.

    Upper management dont want staff making decisions as it undermines their place/roles enormously.
    Pay will never change as long as Treasury hold the purse strings and Unions are ineffective. If you want decent pay go be a banker..!

    The systems and procedures chosen are chosen on cost, not effectiveness and user-friendlyness, regardless of effect on the ground where the systems are to be used.

    So whats the answer to all the above.......... Well its >

    Some things in life are bad
    They can really make you mad
    Other things just make you swear and curse
    When you're chewing on life's gristle
    Don't grumble, give a whistle
    And this'll help things turn out for the best

    And always look on the bright side of life
    Always look on the light side of life

    (keep whistling till you feel better.........)