Scottish Government staff survey finds fall in those who know how to raise concerns over wrongdoing
A smaller proportion of Scottish Government staff said they knew how to raise a concern about wrongdoing in the workplace at the end of 2021 than a year earlier, despite the publicity surrounding a new complaints procedure.
The new procedure was put in place following the Scottish Government's mishandling of complaints against former First Minister Alex Salmond.
In 2019, the government was found to have acted unlawfully while investigating sexual harassment allegations against Salmond.
The former first minister was later cleared of sexually assaulting nine women following a criminal trial in 2020.
Earlier this year, an updated procedure for handling complaints about ministers was put in place as well as a new staff grievance policy. Staff have been given training on the new policies.
The results of a staff survey for 2021 found a marginal fall in the percentage of people saying they knew how to raise a concern, down from 73 per cent in 2020 to 71 per cent in 2021.
Despite this, there was a marked increase in the proportion of staff members saying they felt confident that if they challenged someone more senior to them, the challenge would be openly received, up from 40 per cent in 2019 to 47 per cent in 2021.
Similarly, there was a slight rise in the proportion of people saying they would feel able to challenge inappropriate behaviour in the workplace (66 per cent in 2019 to 69 per cent) as well as in the proportion of people saying they felt comfortable about speaking to more senior staff members about the impact their actions were having on those in more junior roles (51 per cent to 54 per cent).
The Scottish Government was found to have acted unlawfully in its handling of complaints against Alex Salmond. Credit: Alamy
The proportion of people saying they make a point of tackling bullying, harassment and other inappropriate behaviours if they see them happening remained unchanged at 65 per cent while the proportion of people saying they had been bullied or harassed in the preceding 12 months remained unchanged from 2020 at 7 per cent. That was down from 11 per cent in 2019.
In the report accompanying the survey, the directorate said that the results were being tracked with the intention of influencing how policies should develop.
The intention is, the report said, “to focus on the extent to which our staff say that they have trust and confidence in the processes that have been put in place” and to “assess the degree to which the continuous improvement programme has contributed to an improved culture of openness and inclusion, a workplace where bullying and harassment is not tolerated, and where – when needed – our staff feel able and willing to tackle unacceptable behaviours and understand and have confidence in the processes that are in place”.
The report has been passed to parliament’s Finance and Public Admin Committee, which will hear evidence from Deputy First Minister John Swinney on 15 September.