HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Hearts and Minds


As my loyal readers know, it is soon time (the 26th of September to be precise) for the annual HMRC survey to begin.

As to when the other civil service surveys begin remains to be seen. However, if they begin later than HMRC's, then we can conclude that HMRC is still classified as "special".

Anyhoo, the powers that be within HMRC are keen to ensure that the results from this year's survey are markedly different from last year's (ie that HMRC don't rank 103rd in the list of civil service departments).

How are the powers that be ensuring that this year's results will be markedly better?

Well, aside from firing off some distracting chaff about Lesley Strathie coming back to her job, they have also been busy waging a "hearts and minds" campaign on the "shop floor".

My thanks to a loyal reader who posted a neat synopsis of the "hearts and minds" campaign being waged:

"I would ask HMRC staffers to point out to their less aware colleagues the following

Have you had more meetings with "senior" managers in the last two week? ( by senior I mean at least SO or above if you are in operations)

Have you been subjected to "success" stories in a hastily cobbled together in some form of e-mail attachment with "real" experiences if staff and how wonderful the organisation is at listening?

Have you suddenly had local management being ever so caring and empathising with "people issues" recently?

Have you noticed if uncomfortable issues are suddenly important and are considered "serious" after having been ignored for months (years) on end?

If you have noticed one, some or any of the above, welcome to People Survey week. 


I have noticed all of the above. 

It is a desperate last throw of the dice and I am uncomfortable with having to do it as I know the structure has not altered yet.

In my opinion, this is an attempt to influence the survey results in a last mad dash to provide upbeat stories and feel good news. 


It is no coincidence, again it is my own opinion, that the announcement of 1100 jobs in compliance happened last week. Have a few thousand staff in operations chasing those jobs and distract them from the reality around. 

This is blood and circuses. 

The Romans were an astute lot to give the "games" to the mob to stop them rising up. HMRCs blood and circuses are designed to have the same effect.

Sad thing is, I can see it working in the people I manage."


In my view the only way there will be any chance of a positive improvement within HMRC, is if the staff survey is filled in by as many people as possible as honestly as possible; and that the results are then not manipulated/distorted by those with a vested interest in maintaining their fiefdoms.

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10 comments:

  1. Well, thank you for reading my original post, Ken.

    I believe that this tactic may work as last year we reached rock bottom. The only question was one of remaining rooted to the floor or begin the slow arduous climb back to respectability.

    I'm going to my Nostramus act now.

    I believe the propaganda operation that I have witnessed will bear fruit and provide HMRC with a useful riposte to criticism that it is not fit for purpose. People may not like it, but I believe that is what will happen.

    But success is a difficult thing to define. Is a 5% improvement a success? Or 10%?

    Is any improvement an indication that The SS HMRC is now seaworthy?

    And now the big fat elephant in the room thatbhas afflicted our coons department with acute myopia. How will a marginal improvement in the people survey results this year ( and there will be a marginal improvement IMO) lead to engagement levels of approx 65% in 2012? Read DLS and Hartnett at the Select Committee, as this is what they promised.

    Answer, not a hope.

    Then what? The real issue will become apparent in January 2013 when the results will be announced with great fanfare.

    If I were you Ken, you should be planning a series of posts on the future look of HMRC. Because the current strategy is not working, and as is obvious to the dimmest of our staff, shows no sign of ever working.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Too many typos, the" coons department" should read "comms department". No edit facility on previous posts and auto fill on Apple is a nightmare.

    Apologies if anyone was offended. It was not my intention.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A one place ‘improvement’ to 102nd will have Vodafone Dave and the rest shouting from the rooftops. We’ll be told that it is all down to their leadership and implementation of Pacesetter. This miniscule improvement will also give them carte blanche to carry on in the same vein which will be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back.

    Then the workers, the department and the country really will be up the creek…

    ReplyDelete
  4. You are right that any improvement will be seen as vindication of EXCOM strategy. There will be an outpouring of management gobbledegook. But will it fulfil the benchmark goals or get HMRC to have engagement levels approaching the best Civil Service departments?

    That is the question they will be asking in the Treasury, even if the bods at HMRC Parliament st are not.

    Be afraid.... Be very afraid.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The announcement tomorrow will affect the results - if people don't like what they're told (if anything) then they'll record their dissatisfaction a couple of days later.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The strategy has been subtle and big questions raised about PCS complicity, i.e. suggesting a boycott of the vote and also their "campaigning" "effort".

    Never have such smoke and mirror and snake oil salesman tactics been used with such gusto:-

    Awards ceremonies and nominations,

    "Campus" events to show "engagement" (with sweet wrappers!)

    Almost weekly reviews of the success stories associated with the engagement activities,

    Caring approaches to HSW and DDA/EQA issues, training for managers (mandatory) better guidance for managers, statements from CEO downwards about how seriously these issues will be dealt with [is all this an admission it wasn't being done before? - you bet!].

    I am on the optomistic side of the fence, and I know the public is beginning to see through the cloak of lies about pensions, I am confident that HMRC staff will use their vote wisely and freely despite messages to the contrary.

    The posts being advertised are a double issue, they arise from the money guaranteed by the treasury in return for quite an about turn (cue creative accounting methods?) and also lucky timing to make the world look better through rose tints. Well frankly even a pile of dog excrement would be an improvement on the current environment.
    The answer may be as has been rferred to before, reduce the pot of departments so instead of being 103rd out of 103 (last) you become 101st out of 102 (massive improvement in results).

    LOL - vote wisely colleagues...

    ReplyDelete
  7. my office is announced to close tomw but as most of the closures tomw will be relocations rather than anything else i think it will affect staff votes.

    its a shame they arent aware the nasty stufff comes in the january statement opp's i never said that sssshhh

    ReplyDelete
  8. Feck!

    You let the cat out of the bag, "they" will not be happy.

    However the poor souls who are confused or merely lickspittles and whiteboard wipers will fall for the ruse's.

    There will be an improvement, it is impossible for there not to be. It depends then if the "improvement" can be sold as a success or merely a statistical blip - don't forget, statistics is wot its all abaht guv'nor!
    Let them eat cake.

    ReplyDelete
  9. If the 103rd are going to get rid of 10,000 staff in the next 3 1/2 years they are going about it in a strange way?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Staff reductions are happening and believe it or not, they are on schedule.

    You have to understand that there are a lot of staff close to retirement age. They have experience from the old C&E and IR. We are losing this on a daily basis. Then there are those who are in the "redeployment pool". Staff whose offices are closing (see posts above), that have nowhere to redeploy too as there is nothing close enough for reasonable daily commuting.

    Compulsory redundancies have been at a minimum, but I fear as 2015 approaches, they will be less uncommon. There is no money and Universal credit, RTI and NPS are supposed to provide greater effeciency to compensate for the loss of experience and the hands that did the grunt work. 10,000 odd job losses will occur.

    ReplyDelete