It seems that the furore over HMRC's recent Hotseat "Question 23", re offices with poor staff survey scores being closed, shows no signs of abating.
My thanks to a loyal reader who has sent me a typed copy of Dame Lesley Strathie's intranet musings on the issue. I am advised that this is typed exactly as it appears on the HMRC intranet:
"Message from Lesley Strathie: the People Survey and the information you will give us
You may have heard speculation about the role the People Survey plays here in HMRC.
The first thing to stress is that the People Survey is your chance to share your views about life and work her in the department, It's an opportunity to make your voice heard and for us to listen to what you tell us.
We're under no illusion about the scale of the challenge - especially given the results of the most recent surveys. That's why it's so important that you take part.
An engaged workforce is a more productive workforce and the very best performers, whether it's the London Ambulance Service, John Lewis Partnership or Tesco, recognise this.
In all of these organisations, leaders and managers know that positively encouraging people to perform at their best is the most important thing that they do.
David MacLeod calls this a "blindingly obvious but nevertheless often-overlooked truth" in his report into employee engagement (pdf), published by the department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
This is the approach we are adopting here in HMRC. It's not unique to us but it's a tried and tested route to success. While it is clear we have some considerable way to go, we have already seen some improvements in parts of HMRC.
For the Department's leadership, it is about learning from these successes- finding out why so me teams are so much more engaged in the Department's goals and motivated to deliver their part in our success than many others.
We need to ensure we create a similar environment across the Department, so everyone feels as motivated and engaged.
I feel I should stress that when we talk about engagement here in HMRC, we aren't talking simply about the results of the People Survey. Neither are we talking about happiness.
We're talking about our ability to be more productive and all that means in terms of servicing our customers and reducing the tax gap.
I know from your Hotseat questions and forum discussions many of you have been asking about office closures, how we make our decisions and whether the People Survey has a bearing. I have also seen one reply that suggested engagement scores may be a deciding factor. So I want to make our position clear on the office closures.
When it comes to making these difficult decisions, we look at a number of factors, which are fully discussed with our trade unions.
They mainly involve whether leases breaks are available (in line with government guidelines) and whether reduced numbers of people mean we need fewer offices in a location. If all things are equal and decisions have to made between locations productivity will, of course, come into it. It's far more likely that offices with low engagement will be less productive - that's the only link that we would make. Our consideration will include how to retain our most knowledgeable, skilled and motivated staff and managers because that is what we know we need in HMRC.
The people survey is your chance to share your views about life and work here in the Department. It's an opportunity to make your voice heard and for us to act on what you tell us about - from the resilience of some of our IT to the quality of your desk top PCs and in our approach to vacancy filling across all business areas.
The Change Programme and this year's Business Plan demonstrates the extent of our work to remove many of the causes of the frustration. Your input has helped us prioritise.
You'll see more about the actions we're taking in response to the People Survey on the intranet and in Pulse from early next month.
I wish you all a happy Easter and, on behalf of the Executive Committee our thanks for your dedication and hard work over the last tax year
Tax does have to be taxing.
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