Staff survey finds BBC North 'creative'

MediaCityUK Both the BBC and ITV have offices at MediaCityUK in Salford

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The third BBC North staff survey reveals that 70% of respondents believe the Salford offices are a creative workplace.

Three-quarters of the workforce completed the annual questionnaire this spring, of whom 78% agreed they were happy about working at the site. Around 2,500 people are based at the offices, which were opened in 2011.

But the proportion of staff who believed there were career development opportunities at BBC North dropped to 53%, compared to 56% last year and 66% in 2012.

Human resources director Ken Lee said: "In the first year, we filled 790 jobs because we were in set-up mode. Since then we've had about 250 appointments a year but what that also means is, nearly every working day, someone on the Salford site starts a new gig and we've got to convert that energy and excitement and make staff feel they have a shot at that.

Katie Thistleton in CBBC studio CBBC comes live from the BBC North studios

"I think we've got more work to do in terms of helping staff find their career paths within BBC North, and make the most of every opportunity."

But he admitted the Delivering Quality First plans - including at least 20% savings across the Corporation - made it harder for staff to feel positive "because so many of the messages are about downsizing and restructuring".

Other results revealed:

  • At least 80% were aware of how their work contributed to audiences' needs
  • The proportion of respondents who felt they had the necessary tools and technology rose slightly to 58%
  • 63% agreed that the person they report to helped them do their job better
  • 42% said they had a conversation about training in the last six months that resulted in action
  • 49% said they had not participated in an internal 3Me's career development initiative in the past year
  • 69% had suggested how their department could improve in the last six months
  • 59% felt their departments were well-led

About a third of the Salford workforce - including Sport, Children's and Radio 5 live commissioning - report directly to BBC North, while the remainder, such as news and comedy, report to the London "mothership".

Religion working party

Following last year's survey, an extra 100 Hot Shoes placements were introduced for workers to spend a fortnight in other departments. BBC North also allocated an additional 200 car parking places, which staff have to pay for.

More significantly, a working party was set up between the BBC and broadcasting union Bectu to improve workplace relations at the Religion and Ethics department in Salford. It followed concerns about the "culture and style" of some managers, which arose in both a union survey and the 2013 BBC North survey.

Lee said: "When there is uncomfortable feedback, you can either resist it and put your head in the sand, or you take it on the chin and say what can we do differently. I think that management team deserve a lot of credit because they've taken the latter, they've started doing things differently, listened to the staff even when that was uncomfortable and I'm absolutely convinced they're on the right track."

Departmental breakdowns of the Salford survey will be available later this month, and the BBC plans to conduct a nationwide staff survey at the end of this year.

Wales advice

Compared to average results in the 2012 national staff survey, BBC North scored at least 10% more in each category, and the Salford site is often cited as an example of collaborative success.

BBC Wales boss Rhodri Talfan Davies described it as a model "we are keen to realise in Wales" when announcing the 2018 relocation of the Cardiff offices.

Lee said the compliment was "hugely flattering" and advised Cardiff colleagues that "first impressions are hard to shift".

"Whether it's lifts, car parking, or the canteen, you want to test absolutely everything so it doesn't get a reputation as a building that doesn't work. The everyday stuff makes a difference."

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