Staff survey 2011

15 June 2011

I have always regarded the EPO as a European success story. Starting with just 7 member states, the Organisation now has 38, with a total of 600 million inhabitants. The Office is processing more than 230 000 patent applications a year (the original long-term estimate was 30 000), and the high quality of its work is widely acknowledged. This positive outcome relies mainly on the EPO’s principal asset: its 7 000 staff.

Since taking up office nearly a year ago, I have made constant and constructive dialogue with the staff and their representatives, based on clear orientations and directions, my top priority. I was therefore particularly interested in the results of the recent biennial staff survey.

The first general finding is a significant improvement in staff satisfaction; the percentage of EPO employees who feel valued and respected is now 74% (+13%). Similarly, the numbers replying positively to the various questions about sense of wellbeing, work-life balance and the EPO employment package are up by between 10 and 22 percentage points. There is also a big increase in the number of staff saying they are proud to work at the Office. That I find particularly gratifying, especially considering the high response rate (72%). Overall levels of trust in line managers have improved as well. So too has trust in the President (the percentage of positive answers has increased by 50% compared to 2008, whilst negative ones are down by 50%).

Of course, there is still progress to be made in certain areas, especially conflict resolution, and a survey only gives a snapshot of the situation at a certain time. Clearly, however, the general social climate is improving, and this trend can only encourage us to continue our efforts and projects already under way.

Benoît Battistelli

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Categories: The EPO

2 comments on Staff survey 2011

  1. Nick Dougan says:

    It’s good to hear that the levels of satisfaction and trust are increasing – and it must be especially gratifying for you to see the improvement in trust in the office of president!

    These issues will be ones that many of the attorney firms and applicant companies also recognise, and the best will be trying hard to improve their performance too. Having a regular survey provides a useful benchmark but may I ask: what active programmes, policies and actions has the EPO undertaken over the last 12 months to achieve these improvements?

    Nick Dougan
    Business Coach

    • Moderator says:

      Thank you for your comment! Improvement in the social situation at an organisation can have many root causes, but at the EPO a number of steps we have taken over the last 12 months have clearly played a large part. They fall into three main categories:
      1. Clearer vision of the Office, its tasks, objectives and situation.
      2. Major decisions taken with a view to optimising working conditions. For example, a decision on our building in The Hague had been pending for years. But now, after a six-month process launched at the end of 2010, the Administrative Council has unanimously endorsed an Office proposal for building investments at our Rijswijk site.
      3. Priority for social dialogue. Proposals are broadly discussed with the staff and their representatives, respecting the various parties’ role and competences and without delaying the final decision. Both social partners have agreed on a common social agenda, with a list of topics to be discussed. We also take advantage of any opportunity to meet the staff and exchange views directly, for example at the President’s lunches organised regularly with small groups of staff (about 15┬ápeople) from all over the Office.

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