Staffing and Non-Partisanship Survey: Report on the Results for the Federal Public Service

Table of Contents

List of tables

Introduction

The Public Service Commission is responsible for promoting and safeguarding a merit-based, representative and non-partisan public service that serves all Canadians.

The Staffing and Non-Partisanship Survey was introduced in 2018 as a biennial public service-wide surveyFootnote 1. Data collection took place over a period of 8 weeks — between February 22 and April 20, 2018. The survey targeted employees, hiring managers and staffing advisors to gather their views on a wide range of staffing-related topics, including the New Direction in Staffing, organizational staffing policies and practices, as well as political activities and non-partisanship.

Invitations to complete the survey were sent to 214 275 public servants across 74 departments and agencies subject to the Public Service Employment ActFootnote 2. A total of 101 892 employees completed the survey, representing an overall response rate of 47.6%. A complete list of participating departments and agencies with their respective response rates is found in Appendix A.

This report provides a summary of the survey’s key results across federal public service departments and agencies that staff under the Public Service Employment Act. Because the content of this survey is different from its predecessor (the Survey of Staffing), year-over-year comparisons are not always possible. More information on the survey is available on Statistics Canada’s survey webpage.

In addition to this government-wide report, we are developing:

  • organisation-specific reports
  • an interactive web-based visualization tool allowing departments and agencies to explore the survey data and generate customized data tables
  • a series of thematic reports on merit, fairness, and transparency, the New Direction in Staffing and non-partisanship

If you have any questions related to the content of this report, don’t hesitate to contact us by email at: cfp.SDIP-SNPS.psc@canada.ca.

In-scope survey respondents

The results in this report are based on all full-time indeterminate and term employees. Part-time and seasonal employees, casuals, students, contractors, Governor-in-Council appointees and ministers’ exempt staff are excluded from this analysis. Results also include members of the regular Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who conduct staffing activities under the Public Service Employment Act.

Reporting of results

The data presented in this report has been weighted to adjust for non-response and for respondents who did not want to share their data with the Public Service Commission. Therefore, the results can be generalized to the federal public service population in departments and agencies that are subject to the Public Service Employment Act.

Results are shown as percentages for 3 categories of responses:

  1. “yes” or “no”
  2. “strongly agree”; “somewhat agree”; neither agree nor disagree”; “somewhat disagree”; or “strongly disagree”
  3. “not at all”; to a minimal extent”; “to a moderate extent”; or “to a great extent”

For all of the above, “don’t know”, “not applicable” and “unable to assess” responses are excluded.

Each major section of the report begins with highlights of the findings, followed by relevant tables. Within each table, positively phrased questions are presented first, followed by negatively phrased questions, where applicableFootnote 3.

To protect the confidentiality of respondents, results are only provided for questions with at least 10 respondents. For ease of reference, the survey question numbers are reported in the tables. A copy of the survey questionnaire is available on Statistics Canada’s website.

Highlights

Table 1: Highlights by theme
Perceptions of merit, fairness and transparency

Merit

Managers are more positive than employees about merit.

  • 91.9% of managers believed that appointees meet the performance expectations of the positions for which they were hired
  • 92.4% of managers believed appointees are a good fit within the team
  • 53.8% of employees indicated that people hired in their work unit can do the job

Fairness

  • 46.4% of employees indicated that, in their work units, staffing activities are conducted fairly
  • 54.0% of employees indicated that, in their work units, appointments depend on who you know

Transparency

  • 44.3% of employees indicated that, in their work units, staffing activities are carried out in a transparent way
Consideration of priority entitlements

Priority entitlements for veterans

  • 93.0% of staffing advisors indicated being sufficiently informed of the changes to the priority entitlements in the Veterans Hiring Act to provide advice to managers
  • 65.8% of managers reported a moderate or great understanding of the provisions that help veterans gain employment in the federal public service

Overall priority entitlements

  • 49.9% of managers indicated that priority entitlements limit their ability to hire persons who are good fit within their work unit
Perceptions of the New Direction in Staffing (NDS)
  • 93.3% of staffing advisors indicated that they were well informed about the NDS
  • 61.4% of managers indicated that they understand the NDS
  • 46.3% of managers indicated that the NDS had made staffing simpler
Perceptions of organizational staffing policies and practices Most managers feel staffing is burdensome (87.9%) and not quick enough (62.4%)
Perceptions of staffing advice and support More than half of managers (59.4%) were satisfied with the services provided by staffing advisors
Awareness and understanding of political activities While most employees (80.1%) reported that they understand their rights and obligations for engaging in political activities, only 63.6% believed that their organizations kept them well informed
Awareness and understanding of non-partisanship An overwhelming majority of employees (96.4%) believed they could carry out their duties in a politically impartial manner

Perceptions of merit, fairness and transparency

Highlights

Managers are more positive than employees about merit.

  • While most managers believed that appointees meet the performance expectations of the positions for which they were hired (91.9%) and are a good fit within the team (92.4%), just over half of employees (53.8%) agreed that people hired in their work unit can do the job
  • Less than half of employees indicated that, in their work units, staffing activities are conducted fairly (46.4%) and in a transparent way (44.3%)
    • Over half of employees indicated that, in their work unit, appointments depend on who you know (54.0%)
  • Just over 75% of managers did not feel any external pressure to hire a particular employee
Table 2: Results for questions related to merit, fairness, and transparency
  Strongly agree Somewhat agree Neither agree nor disagree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree
Positively phrased
Extent employees agreed that people hired in their work units can do the job (ALL_Q05B) 16.4% 37.4% 15.3% 19.8% 10.9%
Extent managers agreed that appointees meet the performance expectations of the positions for which they were hired (MAN_Q60A) 63.7% 28.2% 3.3% 2.5% 2.3%
Extent managers agreed that the persons they appointed are a good fit within their assigned teams or work units (MAN_Q60B) 67.0% 25.4% 3.1% 2.3% 2.2%
Extent employees agreed that the process used for selecting persons for positions in their work units is done fairly (ALL_Q05D) 14.0% 32.4% 21.6% 18.2% 13.8%
Extent employees agreed that staffing activities in their work units are carried out in a transparent way (ALL_Q05A) 13.8% 30.5% 17.5% 20.0% 18.2%
Negatively phrased
Extent employees agreed that appointments for positions in their work units depend on who you know (ALL_Q05C) 19.5% 34.5% 22.5% 12.5% 11.0%
Table 3: Results for questions related to external pressure or personal indebtedness towards one or more employees
  Not at all To a minimal extent To a moderate extent To a great extent
Negatively phrased
Extent managers agreed that they felt external pressure to select a particular employee (MAN_Q85A) 75.6% 11.6% 7.3% 5.4%
Extent managers agreed that they felt a sense of personal indebtedness to one or more employees (MAN_Q85B) 81.2% 12.5% 4.9% 1.5%

Consideration of priority entitlements

Highlights

  • 93% of staffing advisors indicated that, to a moderate or great extent, they are sufficiently informed of the changes to the priority entitlements in the Veterans Hiring Act to provide advice to managers
  • Approximately two-thirds of managers (65.8%) reported a moderate or great understanding of the provisions that help veterans gain employment in the federal public service
    • Nearly 50% of managers indicated that priority entitlements limit their ability to hire persons who are a good fit within their work unit
Table 4: Percentage of staffing advisors who indicated that their strategic input was sought by managers regarding the consideration of priority entitlements
  Yes No
Consideration of persons with priority entitlements (ADV_Q15A) 88.6% 11.4%
Table 5: Results for questions related to the consideration of priority entitlements
  Not at all To a minimal extent To a moderate extent To a great extent
Positively phrased
Extent managers indicated that they understand the provisions that help veterans gain employment in the federal public service (MAN_Q80I) 13.5% 20.7% 35.9% 29.9%
Extent staffing advisors indicated that they are sufficiently informed about changes to priority entitlements included in the Veterans Hiring Act so as to provide sound advice to managers within their organization (ADV_Q10D) 1.0% 6.0% 31.6% 61.4%
Extent staffing advisors indicated that their input regarding consideration of priority entitlements influenced managers' staffing decisions (ADV_Q20A) 2.0% 14.5% 35.1% 48.4%
Negatively phrased
Extent managers agreed that priority entitlements limit their ability to appoint persons who are a good fit within their work unit (MAN_Q80H) 18.5% 31.6% 30.4% 19.5%

Perceptions of the New Direction in Staffing

Highlights

  • 93.3% of staffing advisors felt sufficiently informed, to a moderate or great extent, about how their department or agency is implementing the New Direction in Staffing and 93.1% believed that they could explain to managers how implementation of the New Direction in Staffing relates to managers’ staffing needs
    • 61.4% of managers indicated having a moderate or great understanding of the New Direction in Staffing
  • While 93.2% of staffing advisors believed that, to a moderate or great extent, the New Direction in Staffing provides managers with the ability to customize their staffing activities based on organizational needs, just over half of managers (56.1%) believed that the New Direction in Staffing has improved staffing in their department or agency
  • Less than half of managers (46.3%) indicated that, to a moderate or great extent, the New Direction in Staffing has made staffing simpler in their department or agency
    • Over one-quarter of managers (26.2%) did not believe at all that the New Direction in Staffing has made staffing simpler in their department or agency
Table 6: Results for questions related to the New Direction in Staffing
  Not at all To a minimal extent To a moderate extent To a great extent
Extent staffing advisors indicated that they are sufficiently informed about how their organization has chosen to implement the New Direction in Staffing (NDS) (ADV_Q10A) 1.4% 5.3% 20.4% 72.9%
Extent staffing advisors indicated that they can explain to managers how their organization's implementation of the NDS relates to their staffing needs (ADV_Q10B) 1.6% 5.3% 21.8% 71.3%
Extent managers indicated that that they understand the NDS (MAN_Q80A) 15.1% 23.4% 42.3% 19.1%
Extent staffing advisors indicated that the NDS provides managers with the ability to customize their staffing activities based on organizational needs (ADV_Q10C) 1.1% 5.7% 26.9% 66.3%
Extent managers indicated that the NDS has improved the way they hire and appoint persons to and within their organization (MAN_Q80B) 18.5% 25.4% 38.9% 17.2%
Extent managers indicated that the NDS has resulted in staffing being made simpler in their organization (MAN_Q80C) 26.2% 27.6% 32.4% 13.9%
Extent staffing advisors indicated that the implementation of the Attestation Form has served to reinforce sub-delegated managers’ key accountabilities (ADV_Q10E) 6.3% 20.5% 41.7% 31.6%
Table 7: Results for questions related to sub-delegation and attestation
  Yes No
Managers who indicated that they have sub-delegated authority to make appointments to and within their organizations by their deputy heads (MAN_Q10A) 23.6% 76.4%
Managers who indicated that they have signed an Attestation Form (MAN_Q10B) 93.5% 6.5%

Perceptions of organizational staffing policies and practices

Highlights

Most managers feel staffing is burdensome and not quick enough.

  • Over 85% of managers indicated that the administrative process to staff positions in their department or agency is burdensome
    • And more than half (55.5%) indicated that this process is burdensome to a great extent
  • Nearly 75% of managers indicated that they have a moderate or great understanding of their department or agency’s staffing policies
  • While most managers (60.0%) felt that, to a moderate or great extent, staffing options within their department or agency provide them with flexibility in appointing persons who are a good fit within their work unit, only a minority of managers (37.6%) believed that these staffing options allow them to staff as quickly as required
    • One-quarter of managers indicated staffing options do not allow them to staff as quickly as required
Table 8: Results for questions related to staffing policies and practices
  Not at all To a minimal extent To a moderate extent To a great extent
Positively phrased
Extent managers indicated that they understand their organizations’ policies with respect to staffing (MAN_Q80D) 6.1% 20.7% 45.2% 27.9%
Extent managers indicated that the staffing options available to them within their organizations allow them to address their staffing needs as quickly as required (MAN_Q80F) 24.9% 37.5% 29.9% 7.7%
Extent managers indicated that the staffing options available to them within their organizations provide them with the flexibility to appoint persons who were a good fit within their work units (MAN_Q80G) 13.2% 26.8% 41.1% 18.9%
Negatively phrased
Extent managers indicated that the administrative process to staff positions within their organizations is burdensome (MAN_Q80E) 1.9% 10.1% 32.4% 55.5%

Perceptions of staffing advice and support

Highlights

More than half of managers were satisfied with the services provided by staffing advisors.

  • Over 98% of staffing advisors were confident, to a moderate or great extent, in their ability to provide managers with useful staffing advice, while 72.7% of managers believed that the advice provided was useful
  • Nearly 6 out of 10 managers (59.4%) indicated that, overall, they were satisfied with the staffing services they received from their department or agency
  • According to staffing advisors, managers mainly sought their strategic input on:
    • the selection tools and methods to be used to assess candidates
    • establishing the merit criteria
    • the choice of staffing process
    • identifying the area of selection
  • These are also the 4 areas where a vast majority of staffing advisors believed that, to a moderate or great extent, they had the most influence on managers’ staffing actions
Table 9: Results related to the provision of useful staffing advice (staffing advisors)
  Not at all To a minimal extent To a moderate extent To a great extent
Extent staffing advisors indicated that they are confident in their ability to provide managers with useful advice on staffing (ADV_Q10F) 0.4% 1.3% 16.0% 82.3%
Table 10: Results related to the staffing advice and services received (managers)
  Strongly agree Somewhat agree Neither agree nor disagree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree
Extent managers agreed that staffing advisors in their organizations provide them with consistent staffing advice (MAN_Q65A) 33.1% 35.7% 10.3% 12.9% 8.0%
Extent managers agreed that staffing advisors in their organizations provide them with useful staffing advice (MAN_Q65B) 36.2% 36.5% 10.7% 10.2% 6.5%
Extent managers agreed that staffing advisors in their organizations acted proactively to help them fill positions with the appointees they need (MAN_Q75A) 22.8% 28.9% 16.9% 18.3% 13.2%
Extent managers agreed that, overall, they were satisfied with the staffing services they received within their organizations (MAN_Q75B) 28.2% 31.2% 13.7% 15.1% 11.8%
Table 11: Percentage of staffing advisors who indicated that their strategic input was sought by managers in each of the following areas
  Yes No
Testing accommodation for candidates (ADV_Q15B) 66.1% 33.9%
Employment equity considerations (ADV_Q15C) 56.2% 43.8%
Identifying the area of selection (ADV_Q15D) 89.3% 10.7%
Establishing the merit criteria (ADV_Q15E) 95.7% 4.3%
The assessment tools or methods to be used (ADV_Q15F) 96.1% 3.9%
The proposed length of time to advertise (ADV_Q15G) 88.3% 11.7%
Choice of method used to staff their positions (ADV_Q15H) 95.3% 4.7%
Aligning managers’ staffing needs with the priorities of their organization’s HR Plan (ADV_Q15I) 59.4% 40.6%
Table 12: Percentage of staffing advisors who indicated that the input they provided to managers influenced managers’ staffing actions in each of the following areas
  Not at all To a minimal extent To a moderate extent To a great extent
Testing accommodation for candidates (ADV_Q20B) 3.9% 15.3% 32.7% 48.0%
Employment equity considerations (ADV_Q20C) 2.6% 20.6% 43.7% 33.0%
Identifying the area of selection (ADV_Q20D) 0.3% 4.9% 35.2% 59.6%
Establishing the merit criteria (ADV_Q20E) 0.3% 4.3% 30.4% 65.0%
The assessment tools or methods to be used (ADV_Q20F) 0.2% 5.2% 35.1% 59.4%
The proposed length of time to advertise (ADV_Q20G) 1.4% 7.9% 37.5% 53.1%
Choice of method used to staff their positions (ADV_Q20H) 0.4% 4.1% 37.7% 57.8%
Aligning managers’ staffing needs with the priorities of their organization’s HR Plan (ADV_Q20I) 1.1% 12.1% 47.1% 39.7%
Table 13: Percentage of managers who indicated that the information provided to them by staffing advisors assigned to their appointment processes was not useful
  YesFootnote * No
Consideration of persons with priority entitlements (MAN_Q70_1) 24.2% 75.8%
Testing accommodations for candidates (MAN_Q70_2) 15.4% 84.6%
Employment equity considerations (MAN_Q70_3) 11.8% 88.2%
Identifying the area of selection (MAN_Q70_4) 25.9% 74.1%
Establishing the merit criteria (MAN_Q70_5) 50.2% 49.8%
The assessment tools or methods to be used (MAN_Q70_6) 54.6% 45.4%
The proposed length of time to advertise (MAN_Q70_7) 24.9% 75.1%
Choice of method used to staff their positions(MAN_Q70_8) 55.4% 44.6%
Alignment of their staffing needs with the priorities of their organization’s HR Plan (MAN_Q70_9) 43.1% 56.9%

Awareness and understanding of political activities and non-partisanship

Highlights – Political activities

While most employees report they understand their rights and obligations for engaging in political activities, they indicated that their departments and agencies need to keep them better informed.

  • Nearly 98% of employees did not engage in political activities beyond voting or seeking candidacy
  • A majority of employees (80.1%) reported a moderate or great awareness of their rights and obligations for engaging in political activities
  • Less than two-thirds of employees (63.6%) indicated that, to a moderate or great extent, their department or agency keeps them informed of their right to engage in political activities
    • However, 88.5% of employees indicated that, to a moderate or great extent, they are able to make informed decisions about political engagement
  • More than three-quarters of managers (76.6%) believed that, to a moderate or great extent, they could provide guidance and answers to their employees on engagement in political activities
Table 14: Results related to engagement in political activities
  Yes No
Percentage of employees who indicated that they engaged in political activities — other than voting or seeking political candidacy — between January 1 and December 31, 2017 (ALL_Q25) 2.4% 97.6%
Table 15: Results related to awareness and understanding of political activities
  Not at all To a minimal extent To a moderate extent To a great extent
Extent employees indicated that they are aware of their rights and obligations for engaging in political activities (ALL_Q15A) 3.4% 16.6% 44.5% 35.6%
Extent employees indicated that their organizations keep them informed of their right to engage in political activities (ALL_Q15C) 11.2% 25.2% 35.9% 27.7%
Extent employees indicated that they are able to make informed decisions about engaging in political activities (ALL_Q20D) 2.1% 9.3% 32.8% 55.7%
Extent managers indicated that they could provide guidance and answers to their employees regarding engagement in political activities (ALL_Q15E) 5.7% 17.7% 41.7% 34.9%

Highlights – Non-Partisanship

An overwhelming majority of employees believed they can carry out their duties in a politically impartial manner.

  • Over 96% of employees indicated that, to a moderate or great extent, they are able to be politically impartial in carrying out their duties
  • 7 out of 10 employees indicated that, to a moderate or great extent, their department or agency keeps them informed of their responsibility to be politically impartial
Table 16: Results related to awareness and understanding of non-partisanship
  Not at all To a minimal extent To a moderate extent To a great extent
Extent employees indicated that they understand their responsibilities to be politically impartial in carrying out their duties as public servants (ALL_Q15B) 1.3% 6.3% 25.8% 66.5%
Extent employees indicated that their organizations kept them informed of their responsibilities to be politically impartial in carrying out their duties (ALL_Q15D) 8.0% 21.3% 36.7% 33.9%
Extent employees indicated that they understand the importance to be perceived as being politically impartial in carrying out their duties (ALL_Q20A) 1.0% 4.7% 19.3% 74.9%
Extent employees indicated that they are able to carry out their duties as public servants in a politically impartial manner (ALL_Q20B) 0.7% 2.9% 15.9% 80.5%
Extent employees indicated that, within their work units, employees carried out their duties as public servants in a politically impartial manner (ALL_Q20C) 1.1% 4.0% 21.8% 73.0%

Appendix A: Participating departments and agencies

Table 17: Participating departments and agencies, and final response rates
Department or agency Final response rate
Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada 51.7%
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 44.3%
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency 55.7%
Canada Border Services Agency 44.2%
Canada Economic Development for Québec Regions 51.7%
Canada School of Public Service 46.5%
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency 56.4%
Canadian Grain Commission 66.0%
Canadian Heritage 48.7%
Canadian Human Rights Commission 50.5%
Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat 52.2%
Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency 54.8%
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission 52.4%
Canadian Space Agency 49.6%
Canadian Transportation Agency 56.0%
Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP 54.7%
Copyright Board of Canada 70.6%
Correctional Service Canada 33.2%
Courts Administration Service 45.2%
Department of Finance Canada 47.2%
Department of Justice Canada 49.4%
Department of National Defence (public servants) 49.1%
Department of National Defence (non-civilian managers) 39.8%
Employment and Social Development Canada 52.2%
Environment and Climate Change Canada 48.2%
Farm Products Council of Canada 68.8%
Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario 54.6%
Financial Consumer Agency of Canada 63.6%
Fisheries and Oceans Canada 36.5%
Global Affairs Canada 49.0%
Health Canada 47.6%
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada 41.4%
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 50.5%
Indian Oil and Gas Canada 69.0%
Indigenous and Northern Affairs CanadaFootnote 4 43.5%
Infrastructure Canada 47.5%
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada 52.5%
International Joint Commission 50.0%
Library and Archives Canada 62.6%
Military Grievances External Review Committee 66.7%
Military Police Complaints Commission of Canada 55.6%
National Energy Board 56.6%
Natural Resources Canada 45.6%
Office of the Chief Electoral Officer 52.2%
Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada 46.9%
Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections 72.0%
Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada 75.0%
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages 51.4%
Office of the Correctional Investigator 60.0%
Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada 25.6%
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada 46.8%
Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada 65.2%
Office of the Secretary to the Governor General 44.8%
Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy of Canada 54.4%
Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada 45.0%
Parole Board of Canada 48.9%
Patented Medicine Prices Review Board 43.3%
Privy Council Office 35.1%
Public Health Agency of Canada 46.4%
Public Prosecution Service of Canada 53.5%
Public Safety Canada 48.1%
Public Service Commission of Canada 51.6%
Public Services and Procurement Canada 52.4%
RCMP External Review Committee 66.7%
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (public servants) 50.8%
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (non-civilian managers) 46.6%
Shared Services Canada 52.5%
Statistics Canada 60.9%
Status of Women Canada 38.7%
Supreme Court of Canada 38.8%
Transport Canada 51.7%
Transportation Safety Board of Canada 51.4%
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat 49.1%
Veterans Affairs Canada 55.1%
Veterans Review and Appeal Board 52.7%
Western Economic Diversification Canada 58.1%
Staffing and Non-Partisanship Survey 47.6%
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