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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: HMRC to recruit 1000 call centre agents amid low staff morale

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HM Revenue & Customs is to recruit up to 1,000 additional contact centre agents in a bid to answer a targeted 90% of calls, amid the publication of a report revealing extremely low levels of staff morale.

The department’s chief executive, Lin Homer, said that she planned to invest £9 million this year and up to £25 million in 2013-14 to reach the call centre industry’s standard two years earlier than had originally been promised to the Treasury Select Committee.
 
The decision to invest in extra personnel was taken after consultation with the Joint Initiative on HMRC Service Delivery, which includes professional bodies and tax charities.
 
HMRC claimed that call centre performance had improved over the last couple of years – staff had answered 48% of all call attempts in 2010/11 and 74% in 2011/12, it said. Homer admitted that, while the quality of advice that people received when they got through may be good, not enough calls had been answered.
 
“Our target of achieving contact centre industry standards of 90% of calls answered first time is the right target. But after hearing the views of customers, stakeholder bodies and our own staff, we have speeded up our timetable for achieving it," she said. “I am reprioritising our resources to make this additional investment possible, without impacting our other core customer services.
 
But the news was not so positive on the staff morale front, according to a report from Nita Clarke, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development‘s vice president of employee relations, who was brought in to provide an ‘independent challenge’ to both HMRC’s top executives and the unions on engagement and trust issues.
 
While morale had already been low, Clarke found that many staff felt their employer neither valued, listened to nor respected them – and just 18% said that they would recommend it as a great place to work. One in five also revealed that they were keen to leave either as soon as possible or at least within the next 12 months.
 
Even though the response rate for the survey was only 52%, respondents said that they felt fundamentally disempowered. Only 34% felt involved in decisions that affected their work, while a mere 45% believed that they had a choice in deciding how to do their work – a figure that is 26 points below the civil service average.
 
Just 18% of staff likewise believed that they had an opportunity to contribute their views before decisions were made, while only 20% felt that HMRC inspired them to do the best that they could in their job.

One Response

  1. Do we need more of the same?

     Perhaps they should sack the ones they already have – very few can actually provide any help.  That of course may well be due to the fact that they have poor management that do not allow them to answer questions.  It could also be a capability issue, but result to the end user is the same.  No wonder morale is bad.

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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett
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