Staff Survey - 'Oh Dear!'
I was very bored, so I took a look through the data for the 2015 Civil Service People Survey. I really can't explain why, other than general nerd-ery, as I work for a CRC and so I wasn't even involved in the survey!
I made some notes as I went, so please feel free to use the below as a guest blog (anonymous, naturally), if you want. One important caveat: although I got an A in GCSE Maths when I was 16, I remember very little about statistics and make no claims about the accuracy of my judgements, which were formed by looking at the responses from NPS staff and then comparing them in a very broad sense with the answers from other departments.
The questions were grouped together into 15 themes - I missed off the last two ('discrimination, bullying and harassment' and 'subjective wellbeing') because I wasn't sure how to interpret the responses. My take on the remaining 13 was as follows:
My work: these questions were about the respondent’s level of interest in their work, but also whether they found it challenging. There were generally positive answers here, particularly to the question “I am interested in my work” – 94% responded strongly agree or agree, which is just about the highest score across all civil servants in all departments. However, only 38% agreed/strongly agreed with question B04 “I feel involved in the decisions that affect my work”, which was amongst the lowest across all departments.
Organisational objectives and purpose: these questions relate to an understanding of the organisation’s objectives and how well the respondent feels their work fits in with those objectives. There appeared to be high levels of positive responses to all three questions.
My manager: these questions relate to the manager’s ability to motivate staff but also recognition and positive feedback. Generally the answers were positive, in the 60-75% range, but concerningly only 34% agreed with the statement “Poor performance is dealt with effectively in my team”. However, looking at the scores across other departments this appears to be a Civil Service-wide problem – most of the responses were in the 20-40% range.
My team: three questions about how well the individual feels their team works. Pretty positive answers here, particularly about the reliability of people in the team to help when things get difficult.
Learning and development: a lower scoring section, with only 30-40% agreeing that they had access to the right L&D opportunities , and particularly poor for questions about career development. From my cursory look at the data for other departments, I’d say these scores were generally lower than for other civil servants. Across the Civil Service as a whole, about 40-60% gave positive answers to these questions.
Inclusion and fair treatment: Most people felt they were treated fairly at work, with 86% responding that they were treated with respect by the people they work with, although only 56% agreed that they felt valued for the work that they do.
Resources and workload: a mixed bag of responses to a mixed bag of questions. Respondents felt that they were clear what was expected of them and had the skills to do their job effectively, but only 50% agreed that they had the tools to do their job effectively (OASys/nDelius anyone?) and even fewer (48%) felt their workload was acceptable. Those scores were quite substantially below the Civil Service benchmark (the median score across all departments).
Pay and benefits: Ouch. 28% agreed that “I feel that my pay adequately reflects my performance”; 25% agreed that “I am satisfied with the total benefits package”; and 27% agreed that “Compared to people doing a similar job in other organisations I feel my pay is reasonable”. Having said that, the median score for these questions across the whole Civil Service were 31%, 33% and 25%, so this is not much different from the national picture. There are a lot of unhappy civil servants out there still stuck in the pay ice age – “we’re all in this together” still clearly doesn't cut it.
Leadership and managing change: Double ouch. The questions in this section look at how well senior managers are doing, and this should make uncomfortable reading for them. Only 27% agreed that “I feel that the NPS as a whole is managed well”; and only 19% felt that there was a clear vision for the future. Only 16% agreed that change is managed well, and – perhaps most damningly – only 9% agreed that “When changes are made in the NPS they are usually for the better”. Only 15% agreed “I have the opportunity to contribute my views before decisions are made that affect me”, and only 21% said “I think it is safe to challenge the way things are done”. These scores were all well below the overall Civil Service benchmark median. Pretty damning stuff.
Employee engagement: an interesting split in the answers here, with 50%+ agreeing that they felt proud to tell others they were part of the NPS and that they felt a personal attachment to the organisation; but only 31% agreeing that they would recommend it as a great place to work. Only 35-40% felt inspired or motivated by the organisation to do their best.
Taking action: 20% said they believed that senior managers would take action on the results from this survey, although 36% felt that managers where they worked would do so. Only 12% agreed with the statement “Where I work, I think effective action has been taken on the results of the last survey”. Did someone say something about the best predictor of future behaviour being past behaviour? Worrying.
Organisational culture: on the whole pretty positive answers here, with 89% agreeing “I am trusted to carry out my job effectively”, though only 58% said they would be “supported if I try a new idea, even if it may not work”.
Leadership statement: really interesting split in the answers here – the questions make a distinction between middle and senior management, and the responses for questions about the ability of senior managers to inspire and lead their staff were 30%+ more negative. This pattern is repeated across the Civil Service as a whole (although the responses from NPS staff were well below the median in general), suggesting that senior managers have a real image problem.
Civil Service Code: as a poor private sector drone the words Civil Service Code mean nothing to me – however it appears that only 66% of NPS staff agreed that they were aware of the Code, only 37% were aware of how to raise a concern under the it, and only 45% were confident that it would be investigated properly. These scores are well below the median level for the Civil Service as a whole – although as relatively new members, this may not be all that surprising.
Overall these responses look like trouble for senior managers. They have a staff group who generally enjoy their jobs and feel skilled and confident in what they do, but who don't feel like they have any say in the direction of travel of the organisation as a whole, or have any confidence that their concerns will be listened to. A comment on yesterday's blog put it more succinctly than I have: "staff survey was grim. To summarise: Do you love your job = YES. Do you have any respect for your leaders = NO. Oh dear"