External appointments to senior Civil Service jobs affect staff morale and Whitehall performance

The influx of private sector managers into senior civil service positions is damaging Whitehall performance as well as morale, a House of Commons report has found.

The Public Administration Select Committee paper published today states that external recruits often take too long to settle into their roles – despite being paid more than those promoted internally to similar positions.

“We believe there are difficulties with the current practice of recruiting directly to very senior posts,” said the report.

“The current pay differentials may serve to demotivate internal staff and discourage talented staff entering the Civil Service early in their career. It is also problematic that new entrants can take a considerable amount of time to find their feet in the Civil Service.”

Civil service head of HR Gill Rider was used as an example of the problems with external senior appointments. Rider took her current role as director-general of leadership and people strategy in the civil service after 27 years at private company Accenture.

The report states: “Senior posts ought to be too important to allow someone much time to find their feet. When we saw Gill Rider she told us ‘I have only been here five months – so very new, and still in my learning curve’. It is not unreasonable to have a long learning curve but it must be preferable for this learning curve to be negotiated without too much responsibility for important matters of state.”

Last week, the Civil Service Commissioner revealed that external appointees to Whitehall jobs were commanding up to double the salaries of those promoted from within.

Just one of nine HR director appointments tracked by the commissioner in the past year went to an existing civil servant.

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