BBC internal survey reveals staff concerns over bullying, harassment, recruitment processes and management

An internal BBC survey has shown that bullying, recruitment processes and confidence in senior management are the primary concerns of staff.

Some 44 per cent of those surveyed in April or May said that if they “experienced or saw bullying or harassment”, they would be confident that “taking action would have a fair outcome”, and 46 per cent said they were confident that “policies and procedures would be applied fairly and effectively”.

These figures have improved from 42 per cent and 45 per cent respectively since the last survey, conducted in October 2014.

In February this year the BBC announced changes to its “bullying and harassment” processes so that complainants would have their “formal case heard by external experts and in-house hearing managers”. According to internal news service Ariel:  “In the event that an agreement cannot be reached on a particular case, the independent party will have the casting vote.”

Meanwhile, 51 per cent of staff told the survey that they knew “the BBC’s 'Whistle Blowing' Policy is available if I have concerns about any malpractice or wrongdoing”.

And 70 per cent agreed: "If I experienced or saw bullying or harassment, I'd know where to find information and support."

Recruitment processes

The lowest score in the survey concerned recruitment processes. Some 33 per cent agreed that: “There are fair, open processes for filling internal vacancies.” This is down from 38 per cent last October.

BBC recruitment processes came under the spotlight this time last year when two high-profile appointments, joining from ITN, were made around the time director of news and current affairs James Harding announced 415 job losses.

And earlier this month it emerged that since the job cuts were announced, under the Delivering Quality First scheme, 72 external recruits have been taken on by BBC News.

Staff were told in an email that 29 people have been brought into the division since director-general Tony Hall put in place an external recruitment freeze on 11 September. The BBC said that no "permanent or continuing hires" have been made in this period, but added that from "time to time, staff have been employed on short-term contracts of less than three months".

Management

Another area for concern in the survey was management, with 44 per cent – up from 42 per cent last October – saying: “I have confidence in decisions made by the BBC executive Team and my Divisional Leadership Team.”

Some 52 per cent, meanwhile, agreed: “The BBC Executive Team and my Divisional Leadership Team demonstrate the BBC Values in the way they behave at work.” 

Statement (worst/best performing questions) Percentage agreement
There are fair, open processes for filling internal vacancies 33
If I experienced or saw bullying or harassment, I'm confident that taking action would have a fair outcome 44
I have confidence in decisions made by the BBC Executive Team and my Divisional Leadership Team 44
I’m prepared to put in extra effort to help the BBC deliver great programmes and services 91
I demonstrate the BBC Values in the way I behave at work 93
I’m proud to work for the BBC 94

The biggest percentage points drop in the survey was in the statement: “The BBC as a whole behaves as though great things happen when we work together as one BBC”. Some 51 per cent agreed with this in April/May, down from 76 per cent in October last year.

The highest scores were “I’m proud to work for the BBC” (94 per cent), “I demonstrate the BBC Values in the way I behave at work” (93 per cent) and “I’m prepared to put in extra effort to help the BBC deliver great programmes and services” (91 per cent). The most improved in terms of percentage points was “I support the BBC’s strategy and objectives” (85 per cent, up from 74 per cent in October last year).

The results were based on two surveys, conducted by Ipsos MORI: "The first was conducted with all of the BBC (excluding Worldwide) and a representative sample of employees across each division were invited to take part. The second was conducted with Worldwide only and all employees in Worldwide were invited to take part to ensure representation. Ipsos MORI then combined the results from both surveys and weighted all of the data according to the population of the BBC as a whole." The bullying and harassment questions were not asked of Worldwide staff.

The BBC was approached for comment on the worst scoring areas – bullying and harassment, recruitment processes and management issues.

On bullying and harassment, the BBC said: "These figures have improved since last year. The BBC takes any allegations of bullying and harassment very seriously and does not tolerate any such behaviour. We have a raft of policies in place to deal with bullying and harassment and we have been working closely with the unions on these issues. Our bullying and harassment policy was updated in March and a support line is available to all BBC employees to offer independent, confidential advice and information."

On recruitment processes, the corporation said: "There are strict policies in place to ensure any recruitment is undertaken fairly and legally."

On confidence in the executive team, the BBC said: "These figures have risen since last year. Both the Executive and divisional Leadership teams have put a number of measures in place to ensure greater communication and transparency amongst staff and will continue to work hard in this area."

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