Culture and behaviours in the Scottish Government: progress report

Implementation plan progress 2021 and the continuous improvement programme.

Continuous improvement programme

The updated Procedure will be seen within the context of a wider programme of continuous improvement to improve our culture of openness and inclusion. The following activities are planned for 2022.

Activity in 2022

Achieved by


Grievance Policy and Best Practice refresh, including update to Fairness at Work

March 2022

This will include

  • refreshed Standards of Behaviour
  • informal Resolution Guidance and core narrative including roles and routes for support and advice
  • refreshed Grievance Policy and Procedure
  • Ministerial Procedure

Associated Guidance including mediation and facilitation guidance as well as refreshed guidance for investigating officers, deciding officers and appeal managers

  • ongoing training (NB this will not be delivered by March – see below)
  • additional improvements in response to joint work with trade unions

Briefings for Ministers on the updated Procedure

March 2022

To provide an opportunity to ensure current Ministers are familiar with the process, while also stressing the First Minister’s commitment to a respectful working environment to underpin good government in the service of Scotland.

The briefings will promote a positive culture in which individuals feel safe and supported in raising concerns and complaints about behaviour that does not meet the highest standards.

Measures of success to be defined and discussed with trade unions and stakeholders

March 2022

Engage with trade unions and stakeholders on tracking activity and progress on organisational culture, business practice and procedures.

Update the Ministerial Code in cooperation with its Independent Advisers


March 2022






June 2022

Offer the Independent Advisers to the Ministerial Code, Mr James Hamilton and Dame Elish Angiolini, the final, approved version of the new procedure for them to consider for them to consider changes to the Ministerial Code.

The intention is to produce a updated version of the Ministerial Code within three months of publication of the updated Procedure. This final timetable is subject to the availability of the Independent Advisers.

Communications with staff on updated Procedure and culture and behaviours


June 2022, then ongoing until December 2022

The communications will set out clear and consistent routes to handling and constructively addressing grievance and tackling bullying and harassment. The launch of the updated Procedure will demonstrate that it is part of the wider, ongoing programme of continuous improvement on culture and behaviours. 

Communications throughout the year will ensure staff are well informed on the improvement programme and how they can participate.

Staff training on grievance policy and best practice refresh

June 2022

(then continuing until December 2022)

A continuation of the training for the grievance and best practice refresh above.

Build the independent complaint investigation capability

June 2022

(then ongoing throughout 2022)

Provide training to ensure that those raising complaints, those subject to them, those applying the policies, and the trade unions - can have confidence in processes to investigate allegations of bullying or harassment.

Familiarisation and training on updated Procedure will be provided, in particular for other teams involved in handling complaints (HR, Propriety & Ethics)

Measures of success ready to implement


June 2022

Establish and manage governance to effectively monitor the progress of the continuous improvement programme.

Alignment to wider culture and behaviour initiatives, including organisational vision and values, with engagement with staff


December 2022

This will involve ongoing monitoring of corporate actions in response to the People survey and the sharing of good practice identified via the People survey results. There will also be the monitoring of staff sentiment through routine employee engagement activity.

Leaders will monitor their staff survey reports from 2021 and undertake further analysis where required to establish where enhanced monitoring, safeguarding and support may be beneficial.

Proactive outreach work in Scottish Government to inform risk assurance and cultural improvement


December 2022

A programme of discussion and dialogue across the Scottish Government to take the temperature of how our culture and behaviour change programmes are being received and acted upon.  This will specifically focus on area offices and discussion with equality network groups.

Review of the processes in use, including Propriety & Ethics


December 2022

Use the measures of success to review the effectiveness of the continuous improvement programme to inform planning for 2023 activities.

Continue to implement the information management review and improve the quality of digital storage and retrieval processes

Update in December 2022


  • strengthen the Scottish Government’s annual assurance process to enable Directors General to confirm that all of their information management procedures are robust. This process supports the Permanent Secretary’s governance statement as part of the annual accounts.
  • information Governance Impact Assessments will be implemented
  • ensure Information Governance Roles and Responsibilities are signed off at senior leadership level
  • continue work  to reduce access to and use of unstructured information repositories.
  • review resourcing of information management across the SG
Back to top