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The Micro-Agency Snapshot Survey was administered between 29 August and 12 September 2011. The overall response rate was 62%. The majority of the sample was female (55%) and, 48% were of EL level. Some key findings were:

Employee engagement

  • Micro-agency respondents showed significantly higher levels of employee engagement than the wider APS.p;

Leadership and agency culture

  • Approximately 75% of APS 1-6/EL respondents felt that SES leaders were sufficiently visible in the workplace, however, only 52% of APS/EL respondents felt SES leaders communicated effectively with other leaders and staff.
  • While SES and supervisors were seen to behave with integrity and honesty, only 37% of respondents had confidence in their agency’s grievance resolution processes.
  • Overall, the responses of micro-agency employees in these three areas were more positive than the broader APS.
  • Of the 21 SES leaders who responded, 61.90% were female. 

Health and wellbeing

  • Micro-agencies scored above aspirational targets on five of the seven factors that comprise the UK HSE Tool. On the remaining factors, micro-agencies scored above the UK Civil Service average. Micro-agencies scored significantly better on all factors than the wider APS.
  • Employee assistance programs that focused on fitness and ergonomics had participation rates of over 60% in micro-agencies. Smoking, alcohol use and mental health programs had lower participation rates. 

Performance management

  • Overall, 83% of respondents reported that they had a performance agreement in place. Most of these respondents (93%) had also received formal performance feedback in the last 12 months.
  • Of those without a performance agreement in place, over half had still received formal feedback on their performance.
  • Approximately 52% of respondents believed their performance feedback sessions helped them to improve their performance.
  • The main reason that performance feedback was not perceived as helping employees improve their performance was that their performance was not covered in sufficient detail.
  • Over 89% of respondents had been given time to attend formal learning and development activities. 

Recruitment and retention

  • While approximately 12% of respondents were of retirement age (i.e. 55 years or older), only 5% of these intend to retire in the next two years.
  • Approximately 27% of employees intended to leave their agency in the next two years and a further 16% intend to leave the APS entirely.
  • The two most frequently reported reasons for intending to leave were a lack of career opportunities in their current agency and a desire to gain further experience. 

Innovation and social media

  • Approximately 50% of respondents reported their work team had introduced at least one innovation in the previous 12 months. These primarily affected either services offered by the agency/work group or how those services were delivered.
  • The primary drivers of innovation are team members and/or agency leaders.
  • Over half of respondents (51%) believe there are barriers to innovation within their agency. The most commonly reported obstacle was a lack of budget.
  • Approximately 17% of employees had used social media to communicate with government and non-government stakeholders. However, only half of these users had access to guidance on the ethical use of these tools. 


Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018