Skip to main content
Civil Service

Civil Service People Survey 2016 – the results

Sir Jeremy at the Civil Service Board meeting, January 2015
Sir Jeremy Heywood

Thank you to everyone who completed the 2016 People Survey. In all, 279,708 of you took part, meaning an overall response rate of 65%, the same as last year. The results are now available here.

This is the eighth annual survey of attitudes towards and experiences of working in the Civil Service. It is an indispensable aid to understanding what civil servants are feeling and thinking about their work and the changes under way to deliver our vision of 'A Brilliant Civil Service'.

Overall engagement is 59% for the Civil Service as a whole, the same as in 2014 and up one percentage point from 2015. This is the highest level since we began the survey.

The results for the nine themes that drive engagement are broadly in line with last year, with some small increases. I take great pride in what this says about civil servants’ dedication to public service and their readiness to take on any challenge, in this year in which we have seen so much change and new work.  

Under these headline themes, we’ve seen consistently high scores for the numbers of us who are interested in our work (90%), believe we have the skills and tools we need to do our jobs (89%), feel trusted to do so effectively (88%) and that we have the respect of our colleagues (84%). These are amazingly positive scores that any organisation in the country would wish for!

It’s good to see that the Leadership Statement is becoming embedded in all that we do.  Significantly more people believe that their own managers, and senior managers in their organisations, actively role model behaviours set out in the Leadership Statement.

I am particularly encouraged by the improvement in perceptions of 'Inclusion and fair treatment': this theme score is up this year by 2 percentage points to 76%. Again, this is the highest it has ever been and a positive indicator for our ambition to be the most inclusive employer in the UK.

However, both the 'Discrimination' and the 'Bullying and harassment' benchmark scores have increased by one percentage point compared to 2015, to 12% and 11% respectively. I don’t think it’s acceptable that any civil servant should have to experience bullying, harassment or discrimination, and it’s particularly disappointing after the efforts we have made this year to tackle this issue head on. We must rededicate ourselves to this, and aim to eradicate discrimination and bullying completely.

Of those who experienced bullying or harassment, only a third reported their experience and just one in five felt that their issue had been resolved. There is a lot more that we need to do in order to give confidence to civil servants, wherever you work, that your concerns will be listened to and action taken.

That makes it all the more important that we take action on the results of the People Survey.  I know that every department, organisation and unit will want to look at their own scores and make sure that they act on the results. I will be discussing this with Permanent Secretary colleagues in the coming weeks to work out what more we need to do for the Civil Service as a whole – learning from and building on successes as well as identifying areas for improvement.  

Meanwhile, thank you again for filling in the survey – and for the great work you are doing in every department.  

Follow Sir Jeremy on Twitter: @HeadUKCivServ

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by Rob B posted on

    With regard to bullying:

    I remember taking an “Assertiveness Training” course. It identified whether one’s personality tended towards aggressive, assertive or submissive behaviour.

    So for anyone out there who has ever been at the receiving end of bullying I might suggest the following Civil Service Learning course:

    And here is a good study for managers:

  2. Comment by rob posted on

    "This is the eighth annual survey of attitudes towards and experiences of working in the Civil Service. It is an indispensable aid to understanding what civil servants are feeling and thinking about their work and the changes under way to deliver our vision of 'A Brilliant Civil Service'."

    Surely the vision of a BRILLIANT CIVIL SERVICE is meaningless without any relevant comparisons being given. We are already the the absolute best, most brilliant and number one civil service in the UNITED KINGDOM We are the only one after all.

  3. Comment by rob posted on

    Regarding the bullying figs it must be borne in mind the majority of those who are bullied have left having been forced out using PMR or left because they cannot stand it any more.
    I know of one manager who bullied 3 staff that I know of and 2 have left because of it one has been off with stress for many months each year because of the bullying so it is probable the fig of 12% is vastly understated. It would be much higher anyway since the bullying from the top regarding the compensation scheme being forced in

  4. Comment by Catface posted on

    When the Military and Contractor input is removed from the Civil Service People survey, the Civil Service satisfaction score with pay and benefits reduces from 30% to the true figure of 24%.

    Thought you may be interested in the real figure without non-Civil Service contribution. To keep calling this is Civil Service people survey is highly misleading. Time for Military and Contactor input to cease so we can have a true representation.

  5. Comment by Trevor posted on

    Jeremy, in MOD the Survey is open to Civil Servants, Miltary Personne and Contractors. However the results pages have printed on them "Civil Service People Survey". Could you please confirm that the results presented to the Cabinet Office give scores for each area for each of the 3 elements who complete the Survey, otherwise the Cabinet Office are given misleading information on the Civil Service Elements of a Civil Service Survey?

  6. Comment by Bill Phillips posted on

    First, what they are doing is calculating the mean percentage for the scores in each section.

    When I do that for Learning and development I get 50% for 2015 and 49.75% for 2016. So the change is -0.25 which is no change when rounded. But page 3 gives the 2015 figure as 49%, hence the +1; where they got that from I have no idea.

    It is not the only score that has problems, the next one down, Inclusion and fair treatment, should be 74.75 and 75.5 respectively, giving a change of +0.75 or +1 when rounded. But page 3 gives 74 and 76 respectively, hence the claimed +2.

    It appears either somebody needs remedial training in use of Excel or somebody is deliberately adjusting the numbers to look better.

    • Replies to Bill Phillips>

      Comment by DARREN IRVINE posted on

      Thanks for shining a light there Bill. I always wonder how we arrive at these figures but like most things know that you can make anything look the way you want to. Without substance to back up these 'percentages' it's merely an exercise or attempt to prove that we did better than last year when in fact the numbers probably show that every year we've gone further down the table. Sad, but true.

  7. Comment by Louise posted on

    Within the RPA we do not even get the 1% pay increase, my pay is little different now to 10 years ago taking into account pension and NI increases. At AO level our numbers have been halved in the last 5 years whilst senior managers have doubled. The stresses felt at the bottom are immense and staff health and wellbeing is being compromised. Out staff satisfaction engagement result has decreased and we are second from the bottom in engagement terms. Not a statistic any of us like, many remember pre- 2009 when we positively enjoyed work, were proud of our jobs and were paid the correct rate. Now I know of no one at my grade who are not feeling financially worried and our health is being compromised by the idealism of change, flexibility and the rule of statistics. Please Sir Jeremy put the case to the government that driving austerity cuts at the expense of it's staff has gone on too long.

    • Replies to Louise>

      Comment by DARREN IRVINE posted on

      It’s concerning to hear that staff at our level are stressed in their jobs. I think the only result that tells us much about engagement is the large percentage of people who don’t complete the survey. On the other side if you do complete the survey, the results are always given a ‘positive’ spin when in fact you can’t substantiate a figure or make such sweeping statements as we have seen without at least a proportion of data which confirm why staff chose certain selections and qualitative data. Instead we see 'how do you feel today' or 'how do you feel with life at the moment'. I for one am hunky dory and because I provide a negative response doesn't mean that I’m unhappy with life. Anyhow, I’ll continue to complete the survey in the hope that something does change but I’m not holding out for that hero.

  8. Comment by Biscuit posted on

    I bet no one reads the free text comments. I am still mad that I am refused deputising E2 to E1 to cover operational (yes it is although the attitude is usually its just an E2...) work and we see contractors worth hundreds of punds a day being engaged for months at a time. Seriously???Well see how you like it when those at the lower end leave and you have no one to do the real work.

    Also when I read things like accept the new stitch up or else we will give you worse terms, well, that is bullying, no argument. From the top too.

  9. Comment by William (MOD) posted on

    With respect Sir Jeremy,

    It doesn't take long to see that the vast majority (if not all) the comments are negative.
    A number are asking why the two main low figures have not been mentioned in your article and many are asking what can be done to remedy the dissatisfaction with pay across the Civil Service.

    I make no apologies for being blunt, but I ask directly - why did you not mention pay or the possibility of a cost of living pay rise that goes some way to regress the massive increases in deductions we (your staff) have suffered over the last 6 years?

  10. Comment by MT posted on

    Until the majority of staff are on minimum wage and zero hours contracts (e.g privatised), the civil service will always attract applications. This appears to be where government really want to get to as we are in to their eyes unproductive jobs. My local MP (a junior govertment minister) comment when discussing real ternm pay/condition cuts to civil service tome was "they dont know whats hit them and there is more to come". This before he knew I was a civil servant! Says it all really. I now work to the second and my job description as a contractor would. No Cheers or Regards.

  11. Comment by another Terry posted on

    If eliminating discrimination were treated as an obligation and duty, as opposed to an aim, perhaps the "benchmark score" could improve.

  12. Comment by DARREN IRVINE posted on

    The trouble with a pure quantitative survey is that you can't substantiate the results. The problem with this survey being quantitative is that it's easy to attribute responses positively when in fact they are actually negative.

    Staff must be given the opportunity to substantiate their answers and until they are the survey is little more than a paper exercise in order to promote a positive outlook when in fact the answers are redundant without context.

    • Replies to DARREN IRVINE>

      Comment by Stuart Holttum posted on

      Darren, you're quite right. Take for example the ridiculous "Future Intentions" question.

      "I want to stay working for [my organisation] for at least the next three years"....what might a "Yes" response mean?

      Does it mean "I really really love it here"?
      Does it mean "I'm fairly happy here, and would like to stay - but BoF is making that impossible"?
      Does it mean "My chances of getting another job are slim at my age, so even though I hate every second here, I don't want to leave"?

      A "Yes" gives no information about engagement. No information about happiness, or job satisfaction.

      Moreover, a "yes" to "I want to leave [my organisation] as soon as possible" could as easily mean
      "I hate every second here, I wish I could leave - but I won't, because I can't afford to"
      "I absolutely love it here, but since I'm in my late 50s I want to take an early bath so I can see the world while I can still walk".
      - so once again, gives no information on engagement, happiness, or even serve as a marker for expected natural wastage, since "wanting to leave" says nothing about what that person will actually do.

      That's not the only meaningless question, just one of the most obviously useless.

      • Replies to Stuart Holttum>

        Comment by DARREN IRVINE posted on

        Thanks Stuart.
        It goes to show just how complicated an exercise it is and having one big survey a year as the benchmark for how well engaged staff are isn’t really that useful.
        It could actually be doing a disservice to the CS given that staff can’t provide positive responses either.
        I imagine that if context was provided though, it would confirm just how disengaged people are, despite the many engagement tools and opportunities there are.

  13. Comment by Pliney the Elder posted on

    We chatted in the office and the opinion was that this article matches what Mr Oliver Letwin called "management guff"?

    see -

  14. Comment by Another one bites the dust. posted on

    Since I started with the civil service back in the day, I’ve gone from a strong independent individual who was proud of the work they did every day and eager to work their way through the ranks and files (the correct way) to then be continually bullied, demoralised, demoted, crushed and ridiculed over the years to the state where all I want now is to get out.

    Yes, this is a great outcome from the survey! Spin Doctoring at its best.

    I stupidly tried to use my voice one last time before I go, to say to colleagues if you don't use your voice, you can't complain nothing is done about it - yet after reading the comments on this blog, it's clear to me that nothing has changed and isn't going to. I'll be more than part of the 35% next year; I’m hoping I won't be around as a civil servant for that long. I'm not proud to be a civil servant and regularly hope people don't find out what I do, it's like a dirty little secret I have to own up to every now and again and my conscious is getting the better of me.

    Well done on completely crushing a person to such an extent that they can’t manage to get into work anymore and then crush them more by reducing the attendance process so you can get rid of them sooner – I should have become a bully myself, that way I’d be earning oodles by now and have a lovely job title – shame I’m a hard working individual.

  15. Comment by Andy posted on

    Of note is that we seem to have reduced our aspiration of being a "World Class Civil Service" a few years back to just a "Brilliant Civil service"?

    That the latter, lower, objective is supposed to be achieved in just over three years from now, against the background of barely changing statistics (even Sir Jeremy can't manage to spin his way out of that particular fact) doesn't say much for the current state of the Civil Service. Given the results of the latest survey, I can't realistically see a "Brilliant Civil Service" becoming a reality by 2020.

    Any politician worth their salt (or senior Civil Servant reporting to ministers) should now be looking at the overall trends in the surveys, given that they have been running for eight years now, and wondering why they aren't getting those much improved scores that were suggested would arise when the likes of PMR was introduced.

    And of course, the public sector are just supposed to accept worsened terms and conditions, real reductions in take home pay combined with greater workloads and less training because in the eyes of the likes of Sir Jeremy, that's what makes a "Good Modern Employer".

  16. Comment by An honest civil servant. posted on

    My whole life I have seen bullying and harassment dealt with swiftly and effectively - the course of action is always the same: identify the culprit and make an example of them. If these 2 steps are not taken you send out a clear message that bullying is tolerated and can continue. The fact that no-one in the department has either the strength of character or desire to do this speaks volumes and the bullying appears set to continue far into the future.

  17. Comment by RJB posted on

    Hopefully you'll recognise the following statement....'We will be straightforward,truthful and candid in our communications, surfacing tensions and resolving ambiguities'. How does your article above rate against this?

  18. Comment by Russell posted on

    If anyone is found guilty in subjecting a colleague to bullying, then they should either be demoted or dismissed. Speaking from experience, I have found that these sociopaths are allowed to stay in the post and the victim has had to move into another job or department. These staff surveys are a waste of time if they are just going to set up working groups (and it is always with SMT who are often the source of the problem) instead of taking decisive action.

  19. Comment by Another annoyed posted on

    Your good wishes are appreciated, unfortunately none of my bills will accept good wishes as payment!!!

    I love my job, but the time is fast approaching when I can no longer afford to stay working where I am, and that is so, so depressing.

  20. Comment by Some people in the MOD posted on

    Mr Flibble,
    Agreed J.
    We have over 50% contractors and a large military presence in here.

    If they all marked higher than civil servants - that would make the results "statistically significantly different".

    Sir Jeremy - can we have a CIVIL SERVANT ONLY survey please?

  21. Comment by Steve Anon posted on

    Referendum on the true state of HMRC anyone ?

  22. Comment by J posted on

    Once again, the MOD results reported up to the Cabinet Office and appearing on this website, include an undesclosed number of military personnel and contractors, who are on vastly superior T&Cs to the MOD civil servants, so can the MOD figures be trusted?

  23. Comment by Jan posted on

    As an SEO, I have spent hours over the last year sitting with team managers who are being bullied by staff in retaliation for them trying to do their job in line with the Civil Service policies and procedures that are in place.

    It has become common practice for Managers to have whistle blowing or comments written within formal interviews and within mitigation about them claiming 'I am not supported by my manager', My Manager is incompetent or I believe there is a breakdown of communication or my manager is not approachable comments made (some of these are quite damning as conversations on occasions have been made up). I have found there is absolutely no support for Managers who are being investigated for carrying out DfT policies and procedures when staff retaliate.

    • Replies to Jan>

      Comment by NAC posted on

      Jan, you have a valid point. I have dealt with many LM who have been caught in the middle of accusations of Bullying and /or Harrassment. I am not saying they are all Innocent but there seems to be an inbuilt bias towards the complainee, an assumption that they are the injured party leaving the individual accused having to prove their innocence.

      The lack of understanding over what constitutes Bullying or Harrassment does not help, like Stress these terms are often misused.

  24. Comment by Dave posted on

    The survey is flawed from the start because most of the questions are open to interpretation and is so long winded that a lot of people lose the will to live towards the end and give less thought to their answers. What really irritates me though, is that we will waste countless hours in the coming months holding focus groups to try and determine why people answered questions in a certain way and what we can do to improve the scores.
    Yet again this is lazy management. It is the management's survey, go away and digest the results and you come up with answers as to how YOU can improve the scores.
    The fact that the scores have barely changed over the life of the survey surely renders it as a pointless expensive waste of time.

  25. Comment by Another Bob posted on

    I think all departments need an injection of morale and incentive, we are lagging so far behind outside industry especially in pay, and then being frozen out of any grade increases as we used to have, a lot of people feel very "seen off", but remain loyal for the sake of having a job and famlies.

  26. Comment by Chris posted on

    In light of the persistence of the discrimination and bullying and harrassment findings, comments here in response to the Cabinet Secretary's inital blog, and conversations I am party to through the year, and especially at around people survey time, I do hope the discussion with Perm Secs about what to do about it will home in on follow-up surveys to try and establish, generically and for each Department, how much of the findings are (a) genuine "in the office" specific one-off examples of bullying and harrassment, or discrimination, (b) ongoing and more insidious practices, or (c) perceived or actual organisational harrassment or discrimination. That will then help make the links with other findings, be more transparent, and therefore better identify what to do.

  27. Comment by Guy posted on

    Lies damned lies and statistics…
    The results will be spun in a positive light regardless of the actual results, how else will the strategic business partners and senior managers claim that their management actions are a benefit to the government as a whole?
    Until someone who is high enough to make a difference is brave enough to take a stand and act upon the negative aspects of the survey then nothing will change.

  28. Comment by Mr F posted on

    no body cares about these results its only managers and above who care about it!
    Its not like anything will happen from top down as a result of the people survey!

  29. Comment by dave posted on

    Sir Jeremy's carpets must need relaying with the amount of stuff he's brushed under it

  30. Comment by Colin posted on

    With regards to the 'Discrimination' and the 'Bullying and harassment' categories, you say “…We must rededicate ourselves to this…”.
    I’m not sure what you mean by REdedicate: the scores would suggest the Civil Service hasn’t ever been dedicated to it – it’s made no in-roads into these scores in the last 8 years, none at all, they have only ever stood still or gone up!

  31. Comment by John posted on

    How many of the 279,708 responses were actually genuine?
    What was the number of responses rejected? (Due to duplication by same individual etc)
    How were the responses verified and validated?
    I've been waiting for over a year for these questions to be answered by ORC and the Cabinet Office?

    What a BRILLIANT civil service!

    • Replies to John>

      Comment by Catface posted on

      It was possible to complete the survey as many times as you wished so it is not true that 279,708 took part, there were 279,708 surveys completed (including by Military and Contract staff in the MOD).

  32. Comment by Some people in the MOD posted on

    With respect, why don't you just say it as it is - about pay - you're all stuffed, there's nothing I can do.

    We'd have more admiration for that.

  33. Comment by Martin posted on

    The superficial spin and cherry-picking are shameful, only fuelling contempt and distrust. A missed opportunity to acknowledge, in plain, honest language, that dysfunction exists and provide real analysis and leadership on what those senior managers are going to do about it.

    This meaningless exercise will continue. The bottom line is, the employee needs to pay their rent/mortgage or needs a working pattern that they won't get in the private sector. The reality is, if you want this, then you put up and shut up, or risk 'polite' isolation and undermining. The snow globe will not be shaken. Hierarchy and nepotism trumps all. Any initial goodwill is eroded over time. Staff are not incentised as good performance is not commensurate with pay and benefits. Those who ask questions are firmly put back in their box, as line managers are fearful, threatened and perceive a challenge as personal criticism.

  34. Comment by Anon posted on

    I would love to know if you expect the majority of the workforce (below SCS, that is after all where the majority of work is done) to agree with what you say. You completely ignore the biggest result. I work with maths and stats all day, yet based upon my organisation's (one of your biggest departments) scoring under 50% "for having the tools to do our jobs" I struggle to see how the whole of the civil service scores 89%.
    I'm just glad nothing is being sold as I suspect trading standards would be involved as quite simply there is no correlation between what you say the Civil Service is like and what staff say life is like working in the Civil Service.

    I glad you are happy, as that make one.

  35. Comment by Christopher Collett posted on

    Have to agree with all the comments made by my colleagues, the civil service is going downhill fast which is probably what the government wants so it can privatize us. I do not feel engaged nor valued, I am used like a slave and paid the same. Whilst SMT all cosy up together and pat each other on the backs the rest of us are suffering bullying, discrimination and have worked so long for the government we have become brain dead and useless in the job market. Like everyone else we were supposed to be paid in August it is now November and have not heard anything of the pay deal so yeah I feel really valued, especially when we will only receive 1%.

    • Replies to Christopher Collett>

      Comment by Christopher Collett posted on

      I would like to point out that bullying comment does not relate to my line manager or a specific person but rather the culture in the Service, we are being bullied by decisions made that are attributed to policy or HR nameless hidden sections.

  36. Comment by Catface posted on

    You fail to state that the 279,708 figure includes an unquantified number Military and Contractor staff who are far better paid than the average Civil Servant and have not suffrered the same spiteful reductions to their pensions and had detrimental attacks to their Terms and Conditions of service imposed upon them without proper consultation.

    This is not a Civil Service survey and it is misleading to term it as such.

    If you wish know why the utterly shameful bullying figures are increasing, here's why:

    1. Stack rank reporting being used by Line Managers and Reporting Offficers to threaten staff with marking down if the don't carry out X,Y, or Z. sometimes expecting them to do X,Y or Z is unreasonable.

    2. Cabinet Office intentional degradation of Trades Unions - Union members no longer have anyone to turn to for support in the face of bullying so it continues to flourish.

  37. Comment by Brian Allen posted on

    Talk about "spin". HMRC engagement was just under 69% and yet the head of HMRC tweeted for all to see that it was 74%.

  38. Comment by Heisenberg posted on

    You can't stop yourself, can you Jeremy? This is classic spin; cherry-pick the good bits and ignore the bad bits. The trouble is, the good bits - such as interest in work etc - are a reflection of our own public service ethos and little or nothing to do with the way senior staff have been managing us. The bad bits are the "bread and butter" stuff like pay, and what we actually think of the way you senior managers are doing your jobs. I would say "ignore these at your peril", but it's already too late - you've let them wither for years.

    A "Brilliant Civil Service"? No, that's just PR puff. What these results show is the continuing decline of a great institution, the loss of the continuity, deep knowledge and expert capability aspects of government.

  39. Comment by D posted on

    Another survey gets the thumbs up, how? I will never understand. Many of our departments trudge along together under the grim reality of unmanagable workloads, reduced or static pay and slim chances or encouragement for promotion. This is no longer a career, merely a job.
    Still, as one manager once pointed out...... "you are ultimately hired help, should you not like the civil service and its operations, you should seek alternative arrangements"

    ........ how encouraging.

  40. Comment by Richard posted on

    Sir Jeremy if these results were from a survey conducted in any large company from within the private sector, then I imagine some very senior heads would be rolling. The positive points do not outway the negative points, and nor should they when the negative points are so damning, so why highlight the survey as some form of great success. I can only applaud the willing shown by publishing a 'Blog' knowing full well what the reaction would be, or could it be you genuinely believe we are all so very happy with our lot, surely not? Oh well the winter holidays are approaching fast and I'm sure there are some far flung exotic beaches waiting in which the very Senior Civil Servants, and Cabinet Ministers alike, can bury their heads for another year.

  41. Comment by Knulp posted on

    What Advertising Agency came up with the Civil Service is Brilliant! How much money did it cost the hapless Taxpayers this time? Brilliant I doubt it!!

  42. Comment by TWE posted on

    "Under these headline themes, we’ve seen consistently high scores for the numbers of us who are interested in our work (90%), believe we have the skills and tools we need to do our jobs (89%), feel trusted to do so effectively (88%) and that we have the respect of our colleagues (84%). These are amazingly positive scores that any organisation in the country would wish for!"

    It is significant that none of these has anything to do with management.
    Yes, I am interested in my work and I have more than enough skills to do it even with ancient IT tools. Yes, my colleagues and I have mutual respect and I am broadly trusted to get on with my work. However, I am not allowed to do it as well as I did.
    My role as a removals caseworker has been generally de-skilled, much of it has been 'outsourced', centralised to 'hubs' and removal figures have plummeted to an all time low. NRC has an 'atrition' rate of 80% (I assume that means failures) which is apparently acceptable. I would have been horrified had I failed to remove 5% of my cases. Imagine what it does for the morale of the Enforcement Teams who are actually out there making the arrests when the same people are back in their illegal jobs two weeks later.
    That is all down to poor management and the failure of the SCS to listen to those who know what they're doing.

  43. Comment by tony posted on

    Bulling Managers, the result of poorly applied Competency Based Promotion procedures allowing those with a narcissistic character flaw to shine< these people need help not encouragement. what happened to the employers duty of care for its staff?

  44. Comment by Jane Fort posted on

    I think it's disappointing that the article in the newsroom is closed for comments, leaving this blog as one of the few places to react.
    I understand why the emphasis is put on the positives, and indeed there are some, but glossing over the negatives as if they weren't there can't lead to improvement.

  45. Comment by Anon posted on

    Lovely bit of cherry picking there from Sir Jeremy. Who can blame him for ignoring the unpalatable survey results in this era of post-truth politics. He's only following the example of others like Trump, Farage, Johnson, etc.

  46. Comment by Lawrence posted on

    Ditto all of the above.

    Quick wins are to greatly improve investment in staff by improving learning and development, then improving pay and benefits. Next accept that the leaders who have instigated this survey to identify change need to improve their leadership and change management skills.


  47. Comment by William posted on

    Your article completely ignored the main issue - pay.
    Or do you think that after 6 years of reductions in take home pay we all still "realistic about the need for pay restraint" and afraid that if you mention it again there will be more of - "Heywood and Manzoni respond after Spending Review blog met with fury by civil servants"?
    See -

    Plus isn't - here is a compensation deal, accept it or we'll impose a worse deal a classic example of bullying, or am I missing something?
    Doesn't that mean 100% of civil servants have been subjected to bullying?

  48. Comment by Steve posted on

    The bullying issue should be addressed robustly, I know 2 cases personally where people are being bullied. In one case because the person has had what is perceived as too much time off sick now has to fill out a weekly chart detailing what she is doing, this is a person who did not get a Box Marking of 3 and isn't on a PIP. Both are frightened to report it because they don't want to risk their job or be classed as trouble, instead they are looking to move jobs.

  49. Comment by ML posted on

    Agree with most comments here. Every year it's the same. No matter what you actually write in the survey, the negative comments are swept under the carpet.
    I have a brilliant working environment in my unit, but it is really of no comfort when you are constantly afraid of more cuts threatening your job, and you get more and more responsibility and work, but there is no chance of any more pay within the pay scale. In the early years at least, I actually got annual bonuses. These days I don't know what you need to do to get one. Win the lottery?
    Besides being treated fairly, the main award you can give for good work is proper pay. Now it seems that you should be smiling and shouting whoopee when you get a pat on the back and the boss says: There's a good boy, no go and do some more work.

  50. Comment by Wayne posted on

    After reading the Head of the Civil Service's "spin" on the results, the story of the "Emperor's New Clothes" comes to mind.

  51. Comment by Graeme posted on

    To be fair only Mr Hammond can do anything about pay so in all honesty why don't they take the question out?

  52. Comment by Carlos posted on

    The quote, "Insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result", describes our leaders to a tee.

  53. Comment by Simon posted on

    this behaviour by the Home Office is why I left to join HMRC (and am part of a large group of staff leaving the Home Office for a wide variety of reasons). I simply wasn't able to accept those new T&Cs, but the actions of the senior mangers showed clearly that my work life balance didn`t matter, never mind how good the work I did was or how much flexibility or goodwill I showed. So I left, taking nearly a decade of hard won experience with me, to be replaced by flexible workers earning more per hour for doing a small part of the job, with an ever decreasing pool of skilled workers to do the extra, essential work. It didn`t matter what was said in the surveys, the results were ignored or twisted to suit a particular agenda, leaving morale at an incredibly low level.

    The changes to the CSCS are another example, as given elsewhere. Accept this bad set of conditions, or we`ll impose even worse on you. I could accept "Accept these conditions, or we`ll have to impose them on you", because the conditions being offered are obviously affordable to the organisation, but there is no excuse as far as I can see for the way this matter has been handled.

  54. Comment by Colicab posted on

    Love that HMRC staff complain about pay when they're getting substantially more than other departments.

    • Replies to Colicab>

      Comment by Natasha posted on

      @Colicab. Maybe HMRC staff are getting more than staff in other departments-but that doesn't mean they are rolling in it. They have also seen a reduction in take home pay over the last six years. Perhaps we are better focusing on the fact that all civil servants are being given a rough deal and put up a united front-rather than turning on each other.

      • Replies to Natasha>

        Comment by Pliney the Elder posted on

        Hear-hear Natasha.
        I've asked the 3 main Civil Service Unions the same.
        Funny thing - they didn't respond.

  55. Comment by Demotivated Civil Servant posted on

    Another year, another Survey, another whitewash, another round of cherry picking stats, another ignoring the truly dreadful results, another set of changing working conditions (for the worst), another slap on the back on how "Brilliant the Civil Service is to work"
    Same set of bareface lies told by Senior Management.

  56. Comment by Anne posted on

    I fully agree with above. The spin on the results are mind boggling. It is obvious why only 33% report bullying when management are unwilling and/or too lazy to investigate properly and resolve the issues. By definition then they are condoning the bullying, harassment and intimidation. I am very curious why these surveys are carried out at all as the results are habitually ignored and a positive spin is always imposed. I'm afraid while the "jobs for the boys" culture persists at top management level, the vision for "A Brilliant Civil Service" will remain exactly that - a vision.

    • Replies to Anne>

      Comment by John Smith posted on

      Anne - perhaps whoever had this vision needs to visit a certain well-known high street optician?

  57. Comment by Graeme R (MoD) posted on

    Noted the comment about bullying and harassment rates above. 56% are reported as being by either line manager or another manager in same area of organisation as complainant is.

    Where there is no longer something like an Independent Appeal Panel, how much scope is there in these circumstances for the issue to receive the consideration of someone who is not involved in it?

    It does nothing to bolster faith in the complaint process to receive a stock answer that does not even refer to the specific issue raised never mind demonstrate any intention to address it.

  58. Comment by Sue posted on

    I have to applaud Bills comments as he appears to have managed to cut straight through the "spin". 33,0000 feeling bullied or harassed is a shocking statistic but I fear this will only grow with performance management & sick absence management he way it is.

    I must admit I am not the greatest with figures but could someone please explain to me the Learning & Development score? Question B22 is -2 from last year, question B23 is -1 from last year (which I make -3 in total). Question B24 is +2 from last year so I make that -3 less 2 = minus 1 yet the survey shows +1??

  59. Comment by Richard. posted on

    While the numbers cited above may be correct for the Civil Service as a whole the results for the team on which I work are less positive. There is a striking difference in satisfaction levels between departments, or even teams, but I have never seen a real effort to expose the reasons for this.

  60. Comment by Stuart posted on

    It is sad that Jeremy fails to directly acknowledge the many problems Bill identifies. This stance will inevitably only create further discontent.

  61. Comment by Graham posted on

    @ Bill - I guess it's a matter of perspective, you can always tell a negative story on anything less than 100%. I think we can call this a success in terms of the direction of travel for many areas and some very positive scores on many questions which, as Sir Jeremy points out, other organisations could only dream of. While I think it's good to hold ourselves to a high standard I think you're being very dismissive of our achievements, especially given the pressures and challenges the Service faces.

    • Replies to Graham>

      Comment by Bill posted on


      You are correct, it is a matter of perspective, and I can see where you are coming from, having worked in private sector as well as civil service.

      The problem I see is that even though some figures do paint a glowing picture of life in the civil service, what I see on a daily basis is a collection of people, who are doing the best that they can, with seniour leaders who seemingly do not know what happens in real life, and still working to imagined targets set by middle managers in order to satisfy the desires of the middle managers to be able to say what a good job they have done.

      This all in the background of worsening conditions.

  62. Comment by William (MOD) posted on

    Sir Jeremy,
    With the exception of bullying, I noted that you have very much focused on the positives of the results.

    Which considering how low the scores for pay and the belief that senior management will take the required action were still extremely low is a bit of a surprise.
    Can I respectfully ask why you didn't mention these?

  63. Comment by Guy posted on

    “I don’t think it’s acceptable that any civil servant should have to experience bullying, harassment or discrimination”

    So why were changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme presented to the unions in just this manner? “Accept these terms or we will implement worse” can only be considered bullying/harassment. The score should have been 100% not 11%

  64. Comment by Derek Pelling posted on

    Usual spin on the results. No surprise there. Some of these results are a damning indictment of the Civil Service yet it is posted as a success. If any other organisation had these results it would not be 'shouting from the rooftops about it'.
    Funny how no mention is made about people's views on managing change at a senior level, pay and benefits etc. These are stark results in my opinion and nothing to paint as a success.

  65. Comment by Chris posted on

    How true Bill..... How easy it is to put a positive spin on under achievement!! Nice to see you've balanced it out to read true. If the civil service was a private industry and in the real world, the fact is that ALL those figures under 90% would be recorded as unacceptable and certainly not "amazingly positive" !! Also the fact that % of people that are bullied at work has increased is totally unacceptable. Whilst working for the civil service has it's good points the true feelings of employees are shown when it comes to a voluntary exit scheme where you will have a high number of people wanting to voluntarily exit the civil service.....

  66. Comment by Baz posted on

    Also interesting to note that they left the news of the forthcoming MOD site closures until after the Survey was closed as well. It would have been "Extremely Facinating" to see what sort of levels they would have got had this not been the case

  67. Comment by Rich posted on

    The line "believe we have the skills and tools we need to do our jobs (89%)" is not quite accurate. This is actually two questions. The 89% refers to the skills question only, not the tools question. Perhaps it should read "believe we have the skills (89%) and tools (70%) we need to do our jobs".

  68. Comment by Mac posted on

    I completely agree that bullying and harassment is absolutely unacceptable but I would ask the question whether people recognise the difference between bullying and harassment and management of ones job role? it is a managers responsibility to assign tasks and ensure that people are doing the job they are being paid to do. I think that we could be a little smarter in how we ask this question in the survey in future.

  69. Comment by Stu posted on

    The movements over the years that the survey has been in place are negligible. This indicates that despite efforts by managers significant and sustained improvements aren't being made. Therefore as the survey shows that the status quo persists the value of an annual survey to show this is questionable.

  70. Comment by Paul posted on

    If there was any more spin on the survey results you could turn it into a fairground ride.

    Is this the point - we submit our thoughts and they are then all ignored other than anything that looks even vaguely positive, which is grabbed with both hands and the rest forgotten about?

  71. Comment by Jim posted on

    Well articulated Bill. I couldn't have done better myself.

  72. Comment by Colin Scott-Morton posted on

    Of particular interest is the fact that only 39% of respondents feel that poor performance is well managed. I seem to remember that the current PMR system was introduced to 'address' staff concerns about this aspect in earlier surveys. It's clearly not working, so if ever there was a reason to get rid of this divisive, demotivating, worthless, bureaucratic and universally hated system, this is it!

  73. Comment by Jim posted on

    From my own perspective in the Home Office it is not individuals who are instigating bullying and harassment but the Department itself in witholding pay awards for those who choose not to sign up to new T&Cs. This for me is the definition of discrimination. And the tactics employed to force officers to sign up are by their very nature bullying.

    • Replies to Jim>

      Comment by John posted on

      Exactly Jim. And here in the DWP results on pay are also being scewed by the laughingly entitled "Employee Deal" which linked the re-writing of contracts to pay awards. Fine if you are at the bottom of your pay scale with no commitments, not so great for longstanding members of staff,or those with caring responsibilities who just want to retain their existing contract. Devisive, demotivating, and quite simply just not fair!

  74. Comment by Jackie posted on

    Another people's survey (yawn yawn). As usual plenty of platitudes from the top (well meaning no doubt) but the continued imposition of policies on an unwilling workforce shows that we are not treated fairly and nothing much has changed since the first survey started. It's another tickbox exercise.

  75. Comment by Anon. posted on

    So little change from last year.

    As to pay, my department's union negotiators report that management are still waiting to hear from the parent department that the pay remit has been approved, as - in management's words - "ministers are still identifying their preferred way of dealing with remit requests". This isn't anything new - it's an annual process but one that seems to get later and later each year and with (again) only a 1% increase across the board, it can't be rocket science - how long do they need to make a decision? Pay increases are normally due in June of each year: my department's 1% increase for June 2015 wasn't paid until February this year. With that sort of delay, and with the effects of inflation, it becomes meaningless. Pay and benefits are one of the main sources of dissatisfaction and if Government truly values its civil servants and wants to improve engagement then prompt approval of annual pay remits would be a start; the cynic in me says that if the process is delayed long enough then Government might avoid having to pay any increase in a given year!

  76. Comment by Bob posted on

    So pretty much the entire civil service is totally dissatisfied with the pay and senior management, but it doesn't even rate a mention......

  77. Comment by Stuart Holttum posted on

    With respect to "More than half don't believe senior management will do anything about the results of this survey" the eight years we have been doing these surveys, overall engagement has gone up just 1%. "Work" has stayed static, while "pay and benefits" have dropped by a colossal 6%.

    While there are indeed a few scores that have crept up a %age point or two on last year, the fact that the Civil Service overall has hardly shifted from where it was almost a decade ago should be immense cause for concern.

    I know that under PMR if I were to tell my manager that I was doing - on average - only 1-2% better than I was doing seven years ago, then I know exactly what my end of year marking would be. I doubt that my manager would be impressed by my telling him "hey, I'm the best I've ever been in the many, many years you've been reporting on me", if that "best" is barely distinguishable from my performance back in 2009.

    I would therefore appreciate an explanation as to how anyone could take any pride at all in these results? Is "at least things aren't getting any worse" really something to be pleased about?

    • Replies to Stuart Holttum>

      Comment by mark mavin posted on

      Very well put

  78. Comment by Bill too posted on

    Can we re-run as since the survey was completed we have had the announcement of the reduction in terms for voluntary and compulsory redundancy and early retirement and the backwards move to keeping signed copies of every self certified sick form, all of which is to make it easier and cheaper to get us out of the door.

    Also we have had no more detail on the plans to move to out of ~London hub working, with the added benefit of anyone approaching retirement having London weighting removed from their final salary calculation - a brilliant move to save the government millions in civil service pension payments into the future!

    Please re-run the survey!

  79. Comment by Anthony posted on

    " I don’t think it’s acceptable that any civil servant should have to experience bullying," so why was the Cabinet Office, of which you are part allowed to get away with bullying in respect of the new Civil Service Compensation Scheme?

  80. Comment by Dave posted on

    The trouble with the bullying issue of course is that, regardless of what Senior Managers say in public, the reality on the ground is that anyone who complains about being bullied is "flagged" as a troublemaker, as part of the awkward squad, as a "whinger", as having poor "Behaviours" etc. and then bullied back into line by use of the appalling and quite frankly unconscionable "Behaviours" part of the PMR procedures...thereby directly threatening their very jobs, careers and livelihoods (and no - I'm not exaggerating). Why would I complain about a bullying manager when their manager will back them up and I will be wrong even if actually I am right? Unfortunately it is better to knuckle down and suffer in silence than be hounded out. Until the arbitrary "Behaviours" part of PMR (which is actually little more than a licence to bully), is removed, it will continue to be used by some managers to bully anyone who disagrees with them and they will continue their merry way.

    And of course, Senior Managers know all this - they just pretend not to.

    • Replies to Dave>

      Comment by Anon posted on

      I absolutely agree with the comment made by 'Dave' re bullying and behaviours. His description of senior managers backing up the bullying behaviour of other managers is, sadly, a common occurrence at Cefas. If a staff member challenges a managers behaviour in some way they are deemed a trouble maker and are labelled as 'must improve'.
      It's widely known at Cefas that managers will close ranks to protect one another. So, issues don't get reported and people suffer in silence.

      • Replies to Anon>

        Comment by Catface posted on

        It's exactly the same in the MOD where I work, managers close ranks and cover up for each other.

    • Replies to Dave>

      Comment by Anon posted on

      completely agree with that, two of us stood up to the bullies, they had us both on conduct charges, my colleague got sacked and I held on by the skin of my teeth, but have since been subject to random personal attacks on a regular basis - little things like theft of personal items etc.. The culture in this place resembles Junior school.

  81. Comment by Mike posted on

    Well we are living a "post truth" world so how else would the report be spun but as a monumental success....

  82. Comment by Baz posted on

    What's that being swept under the carpet? Is there room for anythng else under there?

  83. Comment by David Layton posted on

    It's not very digestible in its pure statistical format. It comes across as a bit dry and academic. Still interesting though. It would be nice to read a summary of the main points in everyday language.

  84. Comment by Richard Crabtree posted on

    Hard to disagree with that. A shame spin has got in the way of communicating important messages yet again. I feel I'm being subjected to an advertising campaign here. I suppose it is meant to be motivating but makes me feel rather patronised frankly. And thus undermines some of the more positive messages the results undoubtedly do contain.

    I also wonder what to make of the 35% non-response rate. There will be various reasons people don't respond but I suspect that there is a significant positive bias from such a substantial non-response rate. I wonder if we need to adjust for that in the way pollsters (seek to) do (with varying degrees of accuracy).

    • Replies to Richard Crabtree>

      Comment by Bob posted on

      I know plenty of people who are so dis-engaged, dis-illusioned and depressed that they can't be bothered to complete the survey. They also think that they can be identified from the details provided and don't want to risk being bullied / harressed because they gave negative responses. I suspect that it is only those of us who are still hoping to see a glimer of light at the end of the tunnel that complete the survey. So, in my view, and as Richard says above, the results, poor as they are, are still positively skewed.

    • Replies to Richard Crabtree>

      Comment by Chris posted on

      What to make of the 35% of people who didn't reply? Well I'm one of those and the reason is that in the department where I work, senior management seem more concerned where their Directorate finishes in the league table of responses than the content of the survey itself. So I believe that by not completing the survey it hurts them more than any results the survey has produced.

    • Replies to Richard Crabtree>

      Comment by Sue posted on

      I can't help wondering if the missing 35% are those who think it is not worth replying to the survey. I have completed it for quite a few years now and find that no matter what I or my colleagues say, senior management always make it sound as though everything is going so well!! I think I'll be one of that 35% next time. Why waste your time 'engaging' when it will be twisted to show how well senior management are doing when the reverse is true (of course any managers reading this will be thinking 'how negative!')

  85. Comment by Colin posted on

    For many people at HMRC, discrimination is just a part of everyday life: having payscales but no annual increments and only 1% to be shared around annually means we've had many people stuck on the minimum for years with no prospect of ever progressing. Result - many people with years of experience doing the same job but for very different salaries.

    • Replies to Colin>

      Comment by Steve posted on

      It's the same in the MOD and therefore I suspect across the whole Civil Service

  86. Comment by Peter Courtney posted on

    "A Brilliant Civil Service". You need invest in training your staff. Sadly lacking in HMRC. Bluffing your way through telephone calls (because you have little knowledge of the process you are working) with customers is far from being brilliant. And I can't see this changing anytime ever with staff having to "flip" workloads at short notice.

  87. Comment by James Clark posted on

    Less than 1/3 of people feel their pay and benefits are fair; this is *the* outstanding statistic from the survey, yet you don't even mention it in your assessment.

    You say the people survey is 'an indispensable aid to understanding what civil servants are feeling and thinking about their work', yet refuse to engage with answers that highlight significant problems. Cherry-picking the positive results and giving (y)ourselves a collective pat on the back achieves nothing, and only serves to further undermine trust and confidence in these processes.

    Being honest about the situation on pay and benefits would be preferable, thanks.

    Elephant. In. Room.

    • Replies to James Clark>

      Comment by John Ridley posted on

  88. Comment by Carl posted on

    For some reason, not all organisations within the Civil Service were allowed to take part in the survey. The Forestry Commission's 900 employees were told they were not taking part but would be able to next year. If it isn't the same pool of organisations each time, how can we compare year on year?

    • Replies to Carl>

      Comment by Civvy posted on

      It's worse than that. In the MOD survey, thousands of military staff and contractors were allowed to take part thereby contaminating the results with the views of people who are on vastly different terms and conditions, and who aren't even civil Servants!

      • Replies to Civvy>

        Comment by Phil H posted on

        So the military are not part of MOD. Interesting perception. In my area Contractors were not polled

        • Replies to Phil H>

          Comment by Pliney the Elder posted on

          Phil H,
          I think Civvy is perhaps stating their point in a cumbersome way.
          Of course Military are part of the MOD, but this was "called" a Civil Service Staff Survey.
          Military are not part of the Civil Service.
          Therefore I suggest they are trying to say that your, rightly, different terms and conditions are potentially changing the "Civil Service" scoring.

          However, in most of the areas I have seen contractors have been included in the survey.
          They are on very - very different Ts&Cs than Civil Servants.

          And, in my lowly opinion, the inclusion of both military and contractors are making the satisfaction with pay figure higher than it actually is.

        • Replies to Phil H>

          Comment by Catface posted on

          Phil - i think you have missed the point. Take a look at the title of the survey - Civil Service People Survey. The Military who complete the survey in their thousands, some with little or no knowledge of a Civil Servants "lot", are not Civil Service staff and therefore should not be eligible to complete the survey. The Miitary have their own Continious Attitude survey which Civil Servants are barred from input to.
          The Civil Service People Survey should be for Civil Servants only full stop.

        • Replies to Phil H>

          Comment by Iain posted on

          Of course the military ae part of the MOD, however neither they nor contractors are civil servants. I thought this was the CIVIL SERVICE PEOPLE's Survey, not a survey of anyone who happened to work in an office alongside civil servants. The scores provided by military and contractors last year were more positive in a number of areas than those of civil servants. Do you really expect it to be different this year?

        • Replies to Phil H>

          Comment by Civvy posted on

          No, military are not technically part of the MOD, they are part of the Armed Forces and they have their own staff survey to rightly reflect their views on their own very different terms and conditions. The MOD is a civilian Department of State. I don't suppose train drivers were invited to complete the DfT survey...

  89. Comment by TJ posted on

    Prime example of bullying from the top . . accept the downgraded and revised CSCS or we will make it even worse.

    I'll put myself down for being bullied next time around

  90. Comment by Bill posted on

    So for the record, over a third of people are NOT engaged, whatever that means.

    More than half do not feel positive about leadership and change, and less than a third are happy about pay and benefits.

    Just over a quarter feel their pay is reasonable compared to others in a similar job.

    Just over a quarter feel change is managed well.

    More than half do not feel safe to challenge the way things are done.

    Less than half see senior management as role models.

    Less than half or people want to be still in their department for the next 3 years.

    A third do not believe anything brought up with regard to the civil service code will be investigated properly.

    12%, or over 33000 people feel that they have been bullied or harrassed, and over 50% of them are to do with a member of the management chain.

    Only a third reported the bullying, and 20% of those felt the issue was resolved.

    And finally, the killer blow......

    More than half don't believe senior management will do anything about the results of this survey.

    If this is a successsful survey, what counts as failure?

    • Replies to Bill>

      Comment by Sally posted on

      Well said Bill.

    • Replies to Bill>

      Comment by Bruce posted on

      Brilliant comment Bill! Thanks for reporting a more accurate view of the survey!

    • Replies to Bill>

      Comment by Mike Rutter posted on

      well said Bill

    • Replies to Bill>

      Comment by Russell posted on

      Well said, Bill.

    • Replies to Bill>

      Comment by Mr Flibble posted on

      You beat me to it.
      But - I think you probably said it better.
      Does anyone really think that senior management will take action and we might get a cost of living pay rise before the end of the decade?

    • Replies to Bill>

      Comment by Bill Bates posted on

      I whole heartedly agree with the above, where I work morale is at an all time low and yet they are boasting about a "positive" outcome of the survey! The management aren't wearing blinkers they are wearing blindfolds!

    • Replies to Bill>

      Comment by Bill Bates posted on

      Where I work the results have been welcomed as an "improvement" and yet morale is very low! Is it that those at the top of the food chain don't make the connection that the work force is "not engaged" & is "demoralised" or is it that they have pulled the plug and don't want to know?