UK engagement score inches up

By on 26/12/2018 | Updated on 24/09/2020
A tick for staff engagement: UK civil service morale holding up (Image courtesy: TeroVesalainen/Pixabay).

The UK’s annual Civil Service People Survey has recorded a one point rise in staff engagement, to 62%.

In the annual survey HM Treasury had the highest level of engagement – up one point to 75% – followed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office FCO and Department for International Development (DfID), which both recorded scores of 72%.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was the unhappiest department with a 49% engagement score, down one point on 2017.

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) registered a notable drop of three percentage points, down to 60%. The factor with the steepest decline at the MOJ was ‘Leadership and managing change’ which showed a 5% drop on last year. For most departments though, this measure remained stable.

Work to do

While engagement was up, the survey revealed discrimination, bullying and harassment continues to be an issue. Eleven per cent of employees said they had experienced incidents of this kind at work in the past year, the same as in 2016 and 2017.

Writing in a blog post following the release of the data, head of the civil service Mark Sedwill acknowledged there is still work to do to in this area.

“We must continue the concerted effort to eliminate discrimination, bullying and harassment across the Civil Service,” he wrote. “The survey demonstrates that, despite our efforts, 11% to 12% of us are still experiencing this kind of behaviour.”

A recent Guardian investigation found a high level of bullying and harassment reports across the civil service, with only a small number of staff being formally investigated. It has been marked as a key area for improvement by the civil service, with a review of arrangements to tackle such behaviour published in September this year.

Backed by the public

In his blog Sedwill pointed to the latest Ipsos-Mori Veracity Index, which asks the public whether they “generally trust” people working in various professions. Civil servants scored 62% – the same as TV newsreaders, clergy and the “ordinary man/woman in the street”. Politicians managed 19%, just above bottom-ranked advertising execs on 16%.

“The results are a tribute to the hard work and great teamwork of the entire service: an engagement index of 62%, matching the 62% level of public trust,” he wrote. “Both are record scores and still rising.”

The survey gathers opinions on nine topics to form each department’s overall engagement score. Scores for five of the measures were up by one point – including ‘pay and benefits’ – and the other four stayed static.

More than 300,000 employees from 102 different civil service organisations took part in the survey.

About Natalie Leal

Natalie is a freelance journalist whose work has been published by The Sun Online, The Guardian, Novara Media, Positive News, and Welfare Weekly, among others. She also writes reports and case studies on global business trends for behavioural insights agency, Canvas8. Prior to working as a journalist Natalie worked for the public sector in social services for several years. She switched careers in 2013 after winning a fully funded NCTJ in a national writing competition. She holds a Masters degree in social anthropology from Sussex University where she specialised in processes of social change and international conflict and reconciliation processes.

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