How does the Civil Service People Survey get delivered?

For most civil servants the People Survey is a 15-minute questionnaire in October, a team discussion in November, December or January. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, it’s a complex project that runs throughout the year. In this post we explain how we deliver the survey to over 400,000 civil servants working in more than 100 government departments and agencies.

2014 timetable for the People Survey
The outline timetable for the 2015 People Survey

A single survey or more than 100 surveys?

We often talk about the People Survey as a single exercise across the Civil Service, however in project management terms it’s better off thinking about it as 100+ surveys that take place at the same time and while similar to each other are all subtly different.

There’s a small team of six in the Cabinet Office who lead the programme management of the survey, procurement and contract management of a supplier, and cross-government analysis.

Each organisation has a “survey manager” who is responsible for delivering the survey in their department, which is often in addition to their day job. Over the survey building period they have 20 tasks to complete to enable their organisation to have a survey in October – ranging from simple tasks like uploading their department’s logo, to building their “hierarchy” of teams they would like to receive reports for. The hierarchy is one of the most complex parts of the survey build, ranging from more than 2,000 units in DWP to just one unit at the Attorney General’s Office and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.

To support survey managers each member of the Cabinet Office team acts as an account manager to a set of organisations, acting as their main liaison point. Each week we issue newsletter that provides survey managers with advice, guidance documents, programme updates, and upcoming deadlines. We host several informal workshops in London (and one in Scotland) throughout the build process to take people through different tasks, share case studies from across departments and agencies, and allow survey managers to meet each other.

The survey’s over – isn’t that it?

Over 274,000 people took part in the survey and over 9,700 reports have been produced – so we’ve only just started analysing the results and presenting them to stakeholders, we’ll write about this in future posts. We’re also heavily involved in training colleagues on how to run action-planning sessions, check out our simple guide to running an action-planning session.

Early next year will be a new digital portal for the results that will allow everyone in the Civil Service to explore the results in more detail than before.

And finally, we’ve even started planning for the 2015 survey!

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