The massive redundancy drive at the Department for Communities and Local Government has left its diminished pool of staff despondent and eager to escape, the 2012 civil service survey indicated.
Only one in five DCLG officials claimed to be proud enough of the DCLG to make the fact public, against a civil service-wide average of 54%. Only 21% said they would recommend the department as “a great place to work” compared with a Whitehall average of 46%. Almost identical figures were reported for responses to the question “I feel a strong personal attachment to DCLG”.
These were among few responses to similar questions which have been asked over several years; they represent a marked drop in scores by staff surveyed in 2006 for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the department the DCLG replaced. Almost half of staff said that year they had been “proud to work for ODPM and would recommend it as a good place to work”.
There were similarly embarrassing responses in the 2012 survey to questions about how safe staff felt to challenge “the way things were done” in the department. Fewer than a third indicated they were willing to question their work practices against a service average of 40% . Only 14% believed that changes made in the department reforms were “usually for the better”.
Julie Flanagan, departmental negotiator for the Prospect trade union, said the department had been hit by both the restructuring and the bad attitudes of their political masters. “The results are not flattering at all,” she added “Quite a lot of discontent stems from a restructuring last year when there was a 40% reduction in headcount.
“They also don’t feel valued partly because statements by ministers are very detrimental about civil servants.”
Ms Flanagan said she now seldom found accusations of bullying raised by staff, a problem on which the department had previously scored badly.
There were further signs of discontent in a series of questions about staff career intentions.
These showed 8% hoped to leave as soon as possible – in line with the civil service average – and 18% within a year, six percentage points higher than the average. Only 41% wanted to stay for at least three years, 11% below average.
However, the department did though improve sharply against previous surveys on other measures. the extent to which staff felt engaged with factors including leadership and managing change, their work, learning and development, their teams and line managers.
A DCLG spokesman said: “The increase in the engagement scores is especially welcome. The department is encouraged to see large increases in the top three areas we chose to focus on in learning and development, confidence in leadership and understanding organisational purpose.
“We remain keen to focus on further improvements in the coming months.”