John Manzoni outlines the Brilliant Civil Service vision in 2016
Awareness of the “Brilliant Civil Service” vision has grown in the last year, according to the just-published 2018 Civil Service People Survey, but Whitehall's annual workforce sentiment poll has also revealed stubbornly high bullying and harassment levels.
Just over half of the 302,170 people surveyed – 51% – said they were aware of the “Brilliant Civil Service” vision, launched in 2016. Last year’s poll showed only 43% had heard of the flagship strategy championed by late cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, which aims to create an inclusive environment, a stronger focus on the difference the civil service can make for citizens and seeks to boost effective leadership and skills.
According to the latest survey, the proportion of people saying they understood how their work contributed to realising the vision has also risen from 37% to 42% in the last year.
This is only the second year the two questions have appeared on the survey. Announcing the results of last year’s survey, Heywood said: “We can’t progress towards being a Brilliant Civil Service if we’re not effectively communicating to our people what the destination looks like or how we are going to get there.”
The Brilliant Civil Service figures marked the most notable change in a survey that otherwise showed very little change in civil servants’ responses to the annual questions. The majority of benchmark scores remained relatively steady.
However, in the case of bullying and harrassment the broadly unchanged proportion of staff reporting themseleves to have been victims over the past 12 months demonstrated a lack of progress towards tacking what has previously been identified as a key area for improvement.
Across the civil service, 11% of people reported having experienced bullying or harassment at work over the last 12 months – the same as in the two preceding years.
Of those who experienced bullying or harassment, 40% said they had reported it – up from 36% in 2017 and 34% in 2016. However, just 19% said they felt the issue had been resolved, compared with 20% the previous year.
The figures show a need to “continue the concerted effort to eliminate discrimination, bullying and harassment across the civil service”, cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill said in a blog post.
“The survey demonstrates that, despite our efforts, 11% to 12% of us are still experiencing this kind of behaviour,” he said.
“Tackling this must be a common endeavour: if you are aware of, let alone experience, an incident of unacceptable behaviour, please report it, ensure action is taken and support the colleague involved.”
Elsewhere in the survey, the benchmark satisfaction scores for “my manager”, “my work” and “my team” all remained unchanged at 70%, 75% and 81% respectively.
At the lower end of the table, the score for staff conficence in bosses' capability for “leadership and managing change” also stayed the same at 47%.
Surprisingly, 31% of people said they were happy with their pay and benefits – up just 1% in a year that has seen a series of pay disputes.