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Bullying and discrimination in Civil Service at record high despite HR efforts

Bullying, harassment and discrimination is getting worse in Civil Service departments, it has been revealed, as the latest staff survey shows a marked lack of progress in tackling the problem.

The results of this year’s annual People Survey, which gathers the views of staff across the Civil Service, revealed another year-on-year rise, with 12% of respondents saying they had been the subject of discrimination in the past year and 11% saying they had been bullied or harassed.

Both of these figures rose by a percentage point from 11% and 10% last year, making them the highest figures recorded since the survey began in 2009 – despite the launch this past summer of the Civil Service Workforce Plan, a Whitehall HR strategy which provided a new toolkit for departments.

Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood called the figures “particularly disappointing” after the efforts the Civil Service has made to address the issue, adding: “I don’t think it’s acceptable that any civil servant should have to experience bullying, harassment or discrimination.

“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”.

The survey results also found that 34% of officials who said that they had been discriminated against believed it was due to their “grade, band or responsibility level”, while 21% pointed to their “working pattern”.

Claims of discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity remained fixed from last year on 10%, as did claims of gender-based discrimination, which 12% of respondents stated.

These results will trouble the Civil Service after it made a concerted effort to improve its diversity and inclusion policies through the annual updated “Talent Action Plan”, and introduced dedicated diversity objectives for senior officials which incentivised performance with pay boosts if reached.

Staff also continue to be dissatisfied with their pay and benefits packages, with only 34% feeling “satisfied with the total benefits package” this year. This has dipped by 10% since the survey started in 2009, before the government introduced a public sector-wide pay freeze.

However, Sir Jeremy noted that the Civil Service had recorded “amazingly positive scores” in other areas, with staff engagement returning to its 2014 high-point of 59%. The survey also showed greater satisfaction with learning and development, staff feeling interested and challenged in their work, and manager support and motivation.

Almost 280,000 officials across 98 government organisations took part in this year’s survey, an overall response rate of 65%, the same level as in 2015.

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Helen   24/05/2017 at 13:52

My husband has been employed in the civil service getting on for 30 years and has worked his way up the ladder. He has always worked hard, shows a great deal Of pride in his work and has earnt himself a good reputation and lots of respect. However, sadly he is now experiencing bullying and victimisation from his fairly new boss and the boss above that, both of which are newly recruited and way out of their league. They are taking their own inferiorities out on their staff, particularly and noticeably my husband and making his life a misery. He's never been so Unhappy at work and has loads of evidence to prove what's going on but because he isn't one to ask for help easily he is very reluctant to approach HR. I am seriously concerned about his health and well being of late and cannot believe that he is having to go Through this torture every day. I want to tell him to just walk away (don't worry about our mortgage etc, his health is far more important) but he's a proud man and is trying to Find his own way to placate them, trying hard to please and meet unrealistic pressures of work and deadlines and all At the cost of his health. I've asked him to approach HR and wish he would because this situation shouldn't be allowed to continue.

Julie   07/06/2017 at 14:11

Sorry to hear about your husband Helen. I would strongly encourage him to ask the Civil Service Employee Assistance Service for help. This is a free service and I have found it to be a great support - you are right to be concerned for his health. This type of stress is associated with lots of mental and physical health issues - heart, digestive system, depression and anxiety etc.- I too am that soldier and my mental health is very damaged He is lucky to have you.

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