Survey of Staffing 2013

Questions and Answers for All Survey Recipients

1. What is the Survey of Staffing?
The Survey of Staffing is an annual survey that provides employees the opportunity to give feedback on their experiences with staffing processes within the federal public service. 

2. What are the main objectives of the survey?
The Survey of Staffing is one of the most important tools that the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Canada uses to monitor staffing activity within the federal public service. It focuses on the core staffing values of merit and non-partisanship, the guiding values of fairness, access, transparency and representativeness and the management principles of efficiency, flexibility and time to staff.

The information gathered helps the PSC identify areas where the staffing system can be improved, either at the public service-wide or organizational level, and is used to support reporting to Parliament. Some of the survey data acquired form part of your organization’s Departmental Staffing Accountability Report.

This survey covers staffing processes that concluded between October 1st, 2012 and December 31st, 2013.  Therefore, if you did not participate in a staffing process that concluded during this reference period, you will be skipped to questions on your general experiences in staffing processes. 

3. Who will conduct the survey?
On behalf of the Public Service Commission, Statistics Canada will send email invitations to employees working in organizations subject to the Public Service Employment Act.  Because the survey is conducted under the authority of the Statistics Act, the confidentiality provisions apply to all information provided by survey respondents.

4. What kind of questions will I be asked?
The survey collects data on experiences of public servants who have participated in a staffing process as a candidate and/or as a manager, including staffing strategies, the area of selection, assessment tools used and the outcome.  Because we do not know anything in advance about the process you are describing, many of the questions ask for details that help to classify the type of process and positions being staffed. The survey also collects information on political activities.

5. Are Selection of Employees for Retention or Lay-Off (SERLO)processes also included in the survey?
The large number of processes resulting in layoffs at the present time has led to an additional focus on such processes.  The survey includes a new section pertaining to SERLO processes, as well as several questions related to priority referrals.  This section can be completed by both retained employees and those designated as surplus, in addition to managers who conducted SERLO processes.  If the last process concluded was a SERLO process, please tell us about it.

6. Why are you asking me questions about political activities - this is a staffing survey?
Part of the Public Service Employment Act mandates the Public Service Commission (PSC) to oversee the political impartiality of the public service (see questionnaire cover letter).

You may not have participated in a staffing process but we are taking this opportunity to ask you a few questions concerning political activities. They provide an indication of public servants’ knowledge of their legal rights and responsibilities, the information sources they typically consult regarding political activities, and the degree of participation of public servants in political activities.

We want to reassure you that all information provided to Statistics Canada through this survey is protected by law under the Statistics Act.

For more information about the mandate of the PSC regarding political activities, please visit the Internet site at

7. Who is surveyed?
The survey is sent to public servants working in federal departments and agencies that fall under the Public Service Employment Act and have at least 350 employees.  The survey is also sent to some members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Forces (see #8 below).

8. How was I selected to participate in the survey?
Departments and agencies subject to the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) were asked to provide Statistics Canada with a list of active employees who have email accounts, and e-mail invitations were sent to each employee.  In the case of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Forces, this list also includes members who have civilian staff reporting to them who are employed under the PSEA.

9. When will the survey take place?
Data collection will take place from January 6th to January 31st, 2014. Completed questionnaires must be sent to Statistics Canada by January 31st, 2014. Completed questionnaires must be sent to Statistics Canada by January 31st, 2014.

10. Am I required to participate in the survey?
Your participation in this survey is important for safeguarding the integrity of staffing within the federal public service and improving staffing practices within your organization.  Even though your participation is voluntary, we encourage you to have your say in this survey.

11. How long does the survey take to complete?
The survey should take about 25-40 minutes to complete for most people. Not all sections of the survey apply to everyone, so individual times will vary. In most cases, the questions are simple to answer, making progress through the survey quick. It does not have to be completed in one sitting. It may be helpful to have documentation about the specific staffing process on hand for those details that may be difficult to remember.

12. Why are there questions that don’t seem to apply?
The survey software automatically skips those questions not relevant to your situation, based on what you have previously answered.  The questions you see will make the most sense, and be most relevant to your circumstance, if done in the order intended.  If a question still does not apply to you, use the “Not applicable” option, if available.  If you find you cannot answer a particular question, leave it and go on to the next one.

13. Is the information I provide confidential?
Yes, Statistics Canada guarantees the confidentiality of the survey under the Statistics Act.  To protect confidentiality, the following precautions will be followed:

  • Names of respondents will not be included on the analysis file that will be created and made available to the Public Service Commission.  
  • Data released publically will be produced in tabular and graphical form at aggregate levels only (e.g., department or public service-wide levels).     
  • All outputs will be screened to ensure that they do not reveal the identity of individual respondents.

14. How will the confidentiality of my answers be protected for the electronic questionnaire?
Your responses are anonymous, provided directly to Statistics Canada, and they are protected under the Statistics Act.  The Statistics Canada Electronic Collection Portal at provides detailed information about the security features in place to maintain confidentiality, as required by the Statistics Act.

15. What type of staffing processes does the survey examine?
The survey is primarily concerned with how people get hired and promoted.  This can be via any type of advertised process (including the use of pools), and many types of non-advertised processes, that result in either an indeterminate or specified term appointment.  The survey questions help to identify whether the process you are reporting on falls within the area of interest.

16. Which process should I report on?
All your responses should refer to the last staffing process you participated in as a candidate and/or manager that concluded for you between October 1st, 2012 and December 31st, 2013, regardless of when it began. 

17. What do you mean by “concluded”?
In the case of an appointment process, “concluded” implies that at least one appointee, regardless of type of process, had reported for work. “Concluded” can also mean that the process had come to an end without any appointment being made.  For a Selection of Employees for Retention or Lay-Off (SERLO) process, the conclusion would be the point at which a decision had been reached regarding which employees are to be retained or laid off.  For candidates, “concluded” means one of several possible outcomes, such as receiving an offer of appointment, being placed in a pool of qualified candidates for future referral or consideration, or being eliminated from further consideration.

18. Why is only the last process asked about?
Reporting on only the last process that concluded is a simple way to minimize response burden for those managers who do a lot of staffing, or candidates who participate in several processes, and arbitrarily identifies one process in the same unbiased manner for all.  The details of the most recent completed process will also be recalled more easily.  If the most recently-completed process is not within the scope of study (e.g., see #19. below), please report on the second most-recently completed process.

19. Can I report on a process still in progress?
If your participation did not conclude by December 31st, 2013, and the process is still ongoing, you can report on it next year.

20. Why am I only being asked about one process and one year?
Rather than oblige managers or candidates, who may have participated in several staffing processes, to report on every process, our strategy is to inquire about one process per manager or candidate.  For analytical purposes, it is important to be able to link the survey responses to a particular period of time.  Consequently, we ask that you confine your responses to only those processes completed during the identified period.

21. The survey asks a question about sharing my information with the Public Service Commission. What does this mean?
There is an agreement in place between Statistics Canada and the Public Service Commission that limits the use of your information for statistical purposes only and prohibits the disclosure of survey information that could identify you. The protected information will be used for statistical purposes only and analyses at the departmental or agency and public-service-wide levels only.  Your information will not be shared if you do not give permission to do so.

22. I am on an assignment in another department. Will my information be attributed to my home department?
For the purpose of the survey, you are included in the department in which you are working at the time of the survey.  The survey allows you to indicate that you are reporting on a process that took place in a different department or agency than where you currently work.

23. When will the survey results be available?
The results for this cycle of the survey are scheduled for release in the summer of 2014. The results from previous cycles can be found on the PSC Extranet site.

24. Can I make suggestions for ways to improve this survey?
You can use the Comments section at the end of the survey to offer suggestions with respect to additional questions worth including in the survey, response options you feel are more realistic or better reflections of typical practices, or changes in phrasing that improve clarity. We welcome your suggestions.

25. What if an employee does not want to complete the Internet-based survey and requests a paper questionnaire?
 Due to the very low request rate from the previous cycles of this survey, there will not be a paper version of the questionnaire available to complete.  

26. What if a respondent encounters technical difficulties with the Internet-based survey?
If a respondent has any technical questions or requires assistance, they should access the on-line help pages or contact Statistics Canada at the following email address or call the assistance line at 1-877-949-9492.   

27. Where can I find more information about the survey?
You can find more information about the survey at

Additional Questions and Answers for managers and supervisors

28. What do you mean by a “manager”?
The manager portion of the survey is directed towards anyone who could have staffed a position, not just those in the EX group.  Sub-delegated staffing authority is not a requirement.  In addition to those with the title “manager” or “supervisor”, this also includes a variety of position titles that may be used in different departments and agencies, such as “director”, “associate director”, “chief”, or “section head”.

29. Why do questions only ask about one appointee?
In some instances, you may have filled more than one position through a single process. In order to reduce response burden, we ask that you focus only on a single appointee.  Where a question asks about “the appointee,” answer the question with reference to the first individual to accept an offer of appointment as a result of that process.  This is a simple way to identify one appointee in a consistent manner across all managers completing the survey.

30. Should I report on a process where no appointments were made?
Yes, although you will not be asked to answer any questions about the appointee, there will still be many questions about the process itself that you will be able to answer.  So, processes that, for whatever reasons, did not result in any appointment but ended within the reference period, are still considered to be in-scope, and should be reported on.

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