Engagement-IconWhitehall departments have maintained and even improved staff engagement through a historic set of changes and staff cuts, according to analysis of the latest Civil Service People Survey by the Institute for Government.

The data shows that senior civil servants are more engaged than in 2009 and are much more engaged than the civil service average. However, satisfaction with pay and benefits among senior civil servants has declined markedly in the last four years.

The survey found that 10 out of 17 main Whitehall departments saw an improvement in their overall engagement score from 2011, which is in line with the improvement in the benchmark engagement score for the civil service as a whole.

However, there was significant variation: six departments saw a fall in their engagement scores while one remained unchanged. The biggest increases in engagement were in the Department for Work and Pensions (up by 4 per cent) followed by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) (both up 3 per cent).

Three of the departments that have cut staff furthest and fastest – CLG, BIS and the Department for Transport – all saw increases in engagement. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had also cut staff numbers quickly and deeply but continued to see a fall in its engagement score. These four departments all remain among the less engaged in Whitehall.

The biggest drop in engagement was seen in the Department for Culture Media and Sport (down 9 per cent), but this could reflect the timing of the survey, which was completed shortly after the Olympic and Paralympic Games and at a time when non-senior civil servants had recently been put at risk of compulsory redundancy.