Amsterdam – November 11, 2020 – In a major new pan-European survey, management and technology consultancy BearingPoint assesses the experiences of public servants working in front-line and citizen-facing roles during the pandemic across four key dimensions – their use of technology, the requirement to develop new skills, their working environment and how they engaged with their team and managers. The countries included in the study were France, Germany, UK, Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Ireland using information captured from online surveys of representative sample groups over the summer period 2020.

Andrew Montgomery, Global Leader Government and Public Sector at BearingPoint

The year 2020 and the Covid-19 crisis has led to an unprecedented mobilization of public services to meet citizens’ needs for healthcare, social services, education and security needs for citizens and financial support requirements for businesses. In this regard, the pandemic can be a catalyst for Europe’s public service leaders and managers to accelerate the adoption of new ways of working and digitalization to enable them to improve the experience and support both for public servants and the citizens they serve and protect.

Andrew Montgomery, Global Leader Government and Public Sector at BearingPoint

An analysis of the data indicates a general high degree of similarity in terms of the experiences and views of public servants in different countries, with variances occurring depending on the demographics of the respondents and the sector in which they are working.

Key findings across the four dimensions of the survey include the following:

A hunger and need to acquire new skills: developing their role for new ways of working

  • Skills is unanimously cited as the key dimension to improve service quality, ahead of technology, management and the working environment. 70% of public servants say the Covid-19 crisis has necessitated the development of new skills; 66% confirm that they will need new skills in the next 3 years (rising to 75% for those aged 18-30).
  • Changes in process and operations was the most frequently cited driver of new skills requirements; the use of technology was cited as the second priority, followed by the need to complete new tasks or projects. This resonates with the transition in frontline roles from a focus on following processes and compliance to greater problem-solving. This will be a key area of investment in learning and development.
  • Public servants working in the security/emergency sector are most likely to want to change role in the next three years (49%) compared to only 40% of those working in the Education sector.  

A desire for technology to improve service delivery: supporting more effective ways of HOW public servants operate, as opposed to replacing WHAT they do

  • Public servants see technology as an opportunity, enabling them to be more effective and they expect greater automation to save them time on low value tasks.
  • They are aware of the gap between the potential of current cutting-edge technologies and the reality of their technical environment ("just give me a decent computer and a network that works!").
  • Almost 40% of public servants said that their IT had hindered their ability to respond to Covid-19 with the concern expressed particularly strongly by those under 40.

A call for more effective management and collaboration: improving communication, planning and the focus on public servant well-being

  • For more than 2/3 of respondents, the quality of service delivery could increase with improved management of the teams and stronger managerial competencies
  • Public servants across all sectors expect better communication, collaboration and planning of activities alongside increased consideration of wellbeing at work from their manager.  

A need for support to make a success of remote working: underpinning the new hybrid model (remote/physical) with new ways of working and updated tools

  • The unplanned introduction of remote working has highlighted the need for a better allocation of tasks and management of priorities for successful remote collaboration. Overall public servants’ views on remote working are positive – more than 60% of public servants indicate that service quality can been maintained with a remote model (20% think service delivery can in fact be improved) and more than half want to continue to work remotely. The success of the hybrid model (split between working remotely and in the office) relies on an effective allocation of tasks and careful planning of those activities carried out face-to-face rather than remotely.
  • Views within the Education sector on remote working are more mixed. Teachers accustomed to their normal roles in their physical classrooms have had to readjust to a radically different distance learning model. Only 40% of them want to continue to work remotely, a similar share to the Health sector (where operating on site is often essential), while this figure rises to 60% for those in local and central government administrative roles.
Axelle Paquer, Government and Public Sector Leader for France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Africa

Our study indicates that public servants are not resistant to change and on the contrary want to develop new skills and evolve their ways of working. They favor a hybrid and flexible working environment but not to the detriment of team spirit or employee well-being. Ultimately, the study reveals that the experience of public officials should be a key indicator of measuring service and a key enabler for improving the quality and efficiency of services delivered and overall citizen satisfaction. But to do this, more attention and resources must be taken to improve the public servant experience in terms of management processes, the work environment, technologies and skills development

Axelle Paquer, Government and Public Sector Leader for France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Africa

About BearingPoint

BearingPoint is an independent management and technology consultancy with European roots and a global reach. The company operates in three business units: The first unit covers the advisory business with a clear focus on five key areas to drive growth across all regions. The second unit provides IP-driven managed services beyond SaaS and offers business critical services to its clients supporting their business success. The third unit provides the software for successful digital transformation and regulatory requirements. It is also designed to explore innovative business models with clients and partners by driving the financing and development of start-ups and leveraging ecosystems.

BearingPoint's clients include many of the world's leading companies and government organizations. The firm has a global consulting network with more than 10,000 people and supports clients in over 70 countries, engaging with them to achieve measurable and sustainable success.

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