Bullying, management and recruitment processes flagged up as areas of 'real concern' in BBC staff survey

Quality of management, bullying and recruitment processes have been flagged up as areas of "real concern" in BBC News following a staff survey.

Director of News and Current Affairs James Harding yesterday told his division that "there are clearly many problems, frustrations and uncertainties" to address after the results of the survey, completed at the end of 2014, were returned.

Press Gazette has seen results for the BBC as a whole and for BBC News, which is the corporation's biggest division with around 7,600 staff out of nearly 20,000.

Some 31 per cent of news division staff who filled out the survey believe that "there are fair, open processes for filling internal vacancies". This compares with 38 per cent of respondents who believed this in the corporation as a whole.

These figures come after the BBC has faced criticism for the way it has recruited certain high-profile journalists.

The appointments of Lucy Manning and Ed Campbell from ITN last summer sparked outrage among BBC News staff who were informed soon afterwards of 415 redundancies.

More recently, Press Gazette understands some insiders felt "a great deal of unhappiness" about the way journalists were recruited to work on Victoria Derbyshire's new BBC Two programme, announced this week.

Bullying was flagged up as another area for concern in both the News division in particular, and across the corporation.

Harding revealed that 34 per cent of his staff "have confidence that, if they experienced or saw bullying or harassment, taking action would have a positive outcome". This compared with 42 per cent across the BBC.

Elsewhere, 34 per cent of News staff "have confidence in decisions made by the BBC Executive Team and the Divisional Leadership Team" compared with 42 per cent across the corporation as a whole.

And 35 per cent of the News division "feel fairly rewarded through pay, benefits and flexible options" compared with 38 per cent overall.

Harding told staff in an email seen by Press Gazette: “[T]here are areas of real concern. It’s been a time of great change across News and there are clearly many problems, frustrations and uncertainties we need to address.”

He added: “We also asked an extra question: what one thing would make News Group a better place? We received a wide range of responses but the biggest single theme was wanting to see better management of BBC News so this is clearly an area where we need to focus our attention.”

The highest scores in the News division were: 93 per cent “feel they demonstrate the BBC values in the way they work”, 91 per cent “are proud to work for the BBC”, 77 per cent “understand the BBC’s strategy and objectives”, and 75 per cent “feel your line manager treats you with respect”.

Staff across the corporation were also sent an email from HR director Valerie Hughes-D’Aeth, who highlighted similar areas for concern to Harding.

She said: “It is very heartening to see that 91% of you are proud to work at the BBC and that 90% are prepared to put in extra effort to help us deliver great programmes and services. Other questions that you scored very highly are that your line manager treats you with respect (80%) and that you understand the BBC’s strategy and objectives (79%).”

She added: “There are however other areas that scored less positively and that we need to focus more attention on. These include managing performance and demonstrating that our processes for filling vacancies are fair and transparent.”

Some 47 per cent of staff said they believed “the BBC is doing the right things to ensure that it improves value for money through more efficient and open BBC”.

Hughes-D’Aeth said 55 per cent of staff (13,181) staff filled out the survey, as did 46 per cent (1,558) of freelances and contractors.

A spokesman said: “Like many companies the BBC conducts regular staff surveys to understand the issues that matter to our employees. We are pleased that so many staff are proud to work at the BBC and say they are committed to putting in extra effort to deliver programmes for our audiences. We score the better than other UK companies in 15 of the 19 categories where there is a UK benchmark and we’re working hard on improving our scores further.”

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