In February 2010 HMRC published the results of their staff survey which were less than, ermmm, "encouraging".
The good news is that, some 4 months after publication, Lesley Strathie (CEO of HMRC) has commented/responded to HMRC staff about the results on the HMRC intranet.
The bad news is that it may take a wee while for the promised improvements to materialise. Strathie expects the results of the next survey to be equally dismal:
"We may not see much, if any, improvement in the next set of People Survey results. These issues are deep-seated and will take time to turn round; with your help, we can do that."
As John Maynard Keynes once said:
"In the long run we are all dead".
Here is the text of her message:
"Whenever I visit one of our offices, it's not long before someone asks what we are doing in response to our People Survey results (PDF). It is one of the biggest issues in the Hotseat and I know people take the whole issue extremely seriously. Quite rightly, I want to see action.
Let me be clear. The results of the People Survey were incredibly disappointing and, along with my ExCom colleagues, I appreciate most of you are passionate about the work you do. It is not acceptable for HMRC to be placed as poorly as it was and we need to work hard to reverse that situation.
Over the last few months, we have looked carefully at the results. We have done a great deal of research about what motivates people in HMRC; what do you expect from us as an employer; and what gets you out of bed in the morning.
This has given us a real understanding of the action we need to take. It is why we are looking at the following three big areas that we are confident will make a real difference.
Getting leadership right
The first is leadership. Getting the right leaders in place with the right skills is absolutely critical if we are to motivate people and unlock their potential. That's why we are making it clear what good leadership is and – equally importantly – spelling out the actions and approaches we do not want to see in this Department. We will be very clear that bad leadership has no place in HMRC.
This won't just be words on a page. Our appraisal and reward strategies are being redesigned so it is clear what we, and you, can expect from our leaders. The customer is central to all of this, along with a more open and collaborative approach. We are also looking at the skills our leaders have and the support we can give so they can do their jobs better. You will see more about this from July.
The second big area of work is all about the relationship our people have with us as their employer. That means being clear about what you can expect from us and what, in return, we can expect from you. This will cover many of the practicalities around our work.
It will look at a range of topics including how you can expect your career to progress; the benefits you receive as an employee; and the type and amount of work we can reasonably expect from you when you're at work.
We've already started on this and we will be talking to many of you about what this means in practice over the summer months. We are, of course, working closely with our trade unions on all of this.
The work itself
People have repeatedly told us they want more of a say in the decisions that affect their work. This is already a fundamental part of PaceSetter, which we are continuing to introduce and embed across the whole Department.
HMRC's strategy, which will be launched in the autumn, sets out how our processes and procedures will be designed around the behaviours and needs of our customers. Clearly, the involvement of the people who interact with our customers day in and day out will be a fundamental part of this work. We will tell you more about what this means during September and October.
Your own business areas are also committed to acting on the results of the survey. You should have all had conversations with your line managers by now about your team’s results and what can be done about them.
It is important to be realistic and honest about the challenges we face. Things will not get any easier over the coming months. Equally, there is no magic wand we can wave to improve the way people feel about the Department.
We may not see much, if any, improvement in the next set of People Survey results. These issues are deep-seated and will take time to turn round; with your help, we can do that.
Despite the challenges we face, our achievements as a Department are considerable. We need to be proud of what we do but should never forget that we can always do better."
Tax does have to be taxing.
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