Civil servants in grip of severe change anxiety

Concern over how change is managed and fears about job security are rife throughout the Civil Service, internal Whitehall department staff surveys have revealed.

The 2005 surveys, released by the Cabinet Office last week under the Freedom of Information Act, provide an illuminating insight into staff morale across central government.

At HM Revenue & Customs, 60% of employees do not feel change is managed well, while nearly three-quarters (72%) felt they were not given the opportunity to contribute views before changes affecting their jobs were implemented.

At the Cabinet Office, only 19% felt change was managed well, while half (51%) of the employees at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) do not think they are given sufficient information about changes that will affect their jobs.

The survey of 75,000 DWP staff also shows that 59% do not believe that the department is well managed.

Sally Fisher, a partner in the human capital practice at consultancy Deloitte, said the results should be seen in the context of the Gershon efficiency review, which recommended cutting more than 70,000 jobs across central government departments.

“Gershon put headcount reduction firmly on the agenda, and it is clear that in some cases the uncertainty this produced has not been managed well,” she said.

A spokeswoman at the DWP said that given the scale of the changes in the department – which is losing 30,000 jobs – “it is not at all surprising that our staff have concerns”. She said senior managers were producing action plans based on the survey results.

The internal surveys also show that nearly half of all Department of Transport civil servants are seriously considering leaving to take another job in the next 12 months, while job security at the Cabinet Office has fallen by 15% compared with last year.

Damning statistics

  • 15% of staff at the Department for Education and Skills have been bullied or harassed in the past year, with 8% complaining of age discrimination.

  • 63% of staff at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport feel they are not paid enough.

  • 31% at the Department of Health say they would not recommend it as a good place to work, although two-thirds (66%) admit they “receive praise when they have done something well”.

  • 84% of employees at the Treasury are proud to be a member of the department, but more than a quarter  (28%) say their personal performance goes unrecognised.

  • 51% at the Home Office believe the current pay grades are unfair.

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