Cabinet Office uses new digital survey tool to quiz officials on impact of coronavirus

Written by Beckie Smith on 14 May 2020 in News

Civil servants will be asked about how the crisis has impacted their working lives

An empty-looking Whitehall pictured during lockdown   Credit: Han YanTimIreland/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

A poll examining the effect of coronavirus on the civil service’s work is being used by the Cabinet Office to test a new digital survey platform to be rolled out in full later this year.

The so-called pulse survey will ask a series of questions about how officials' work has changed as a result of the crisis and the support they are receiving from their managers, as well as how they are feeling about the changes.

The short poll will inform how civil service organisations continue to respond to the outbreak.

"It will give departments the chance to take positive action based on staff feedback," a Cabinet Office spokesperson said.

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The exercise will also be used to test the accessibility of the digital survey platform that will be used for the annual Civil Service People Survey in the autumn, according to a privacy notice posted to GOV.UK.

The Cabinet Office will manage the project alongside the US-based software company Qualtrics, which has been contracted to host the survey and help analyse the results. Qualtrics has also been appointed to deliver the people survey in both 2020 and 2021.

The survey will ask a series of questions concerning civil servants' experience of working during the coronavirus outbreak. The majority of questions will be optional.

Civil servants will be asked to share which organisation they work for so that the results can be “analysed and reported at an organisation level”. If fewer than 10 people respond from any given organisation, those results will not be shared, to prevent the risk of individuals being identified.

Participants will be asked for demographic data including their ethnic group, gender identity, age group, health status, caregiver responsibilities and professional details such as their grade, profession and location in the case of overseas staff.

“It is important to know if groups of staff with specific demographic characteristics have a better or worse experience, so that appropriate action can be taken to level this experience,” the privacy notice says.

As well as answering questions directly related to the Covid-19 outbreak, participants will be asked to give feedback on the accessibility of the survey platform to determine whether any improvements are needed for the annual exercise.

“Understanding civil servants’ experiences about working in the civil service through the Covid-19 crisis can inform decisions taken to improve these experiences, and support their return to the workplace,” the notice said.

The coronavirus pulse survey opened yesterday and will run until 26 May.



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About the author

Beckie Smith is a reporter for PublicTechnology sister publication Civil Service World, where this story first appeared. She tweets as @beckie__smith.

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