A few weeks ago I mentioned that the 2012 People Survey was a key mechanism we will use to “listen and act”, and I want to thank the more than 297,000 people who took the time to complete the survey and provide their views.
Today, we have published the Civil Service benchmark scores. If you don’t know what your Department or Agency is doing with their results then you should ask your manager or senior leaders. After sharing results internally with staff, Departments and Agencies will be publishing their results over the coming months. As we have done in previous years we will be publishing a summary of organisational scores and a more detailed analysis of the Civil Service-wide results on 1st February 2013.
As the results have just come out I don’t have all the answers and explanations, but it is clear that we must work together to make our organisations not only places where we do great work but also places where it is great to work. Today I want to share my initial reflections on the results and welcome your comments and views on what the results say and mean for the Civil Service and the Civil Service Reform agenda.
When we talk about the People Survey we usually head straight for what isn’t going so well, but this year’s results show some great strengths about the Civil Service. There are some areas, such as the work we do, the teams we work in, and our line managers, where we have some great scores – 89% are interested in their work; 84% are clear about what is expected in their job; 79% saying their manager is open to their ideas; and 79% saying their team works together to improve the service they provide. We should be proud about these scores because over the past four years they have remained high. We must make sure that in the year ahead we don’t forget about these strengths.
Last year the benchmark scores were generally unchanged from the 2010 score, which may have surprised some people. This year, despite a tough operating environment the benchmark scores have broadly increased. The benchmark employee engagement index is up two percentage points to 58%, back to where we were in 2009. Across the nine other survey themes all but one has seen an increase in the benchmark score. The largest increase has been for the leadership and managing change benchmark, up three percentage points – but this remains our greatest challenge, while 56% of our people say they are kept informed about matters that affect them, only 29% say that change is managed well. This has already been recognised in the Civil Service Reform Plan and we are working on making improvements to our management of change.
We’ve also seen some encouraging improvements on a number of questions where we’ve previously seen drops or which have been historically low-scoring. For example, the benchmark score for feeling involved in “decisions that affect your work” is up four percentage points to 53%, after dropping seven percentage points beteen 2009 an 2010.
Similarly the questions about learning and development dropped between 2009 and 2010 but we’re starting to see things improve this year. The benchmark for thinking “there are opportunities to develop my career in my organisation” has also risen four percentage points, but that’s only taken us to 35% so there’s still a lot of room for improvement. The Civil Service Reform Plan is addressing this issue with a commitment to give staff at least five days a year of learning and development.
Finally I’m pleased to see that the three questions we ask on taking action as a result of the survey have all seen good improvements this year. I want to make sure we continue the good progress on this, because I want to make sure we put our people at the heart of the way we manage the Civil Service.
You may be thinking that talking about two, three and four percentage point movements isn’t really very much at all, but that’s because of the way we calculate the benchmark scores. The Civil Service benchmark is the median score of all the 97 Departments and Agencies that take part, and in the past we certainly have seen much bigger movements in the results of individual organisations. I’m sure it will be the same case again this year. To move the median we have to make the whole of the Civil Service better not just a few places here and there.
Whilst I have spent some time focusing on what is improved or what is a good score, I am not complacent about some very challenging numbers in the results. The 29% score for believing that “change is managed well” is too low and something we must get better at.
Over the next month I, and other senior leaders across the Civil Service, will be looking at the Civil Service level results in more detail, and I think it’s important that just as everyone has an opportunity to take part in the People Survey everyone has an opportunity to comment on the results. I don’t say this because it’s the “right thing to say”, I say it because I know that organisations perform at their best when everyone feels they are in great place to work where they are able to fulfil their potential.