From 31 January until 28 February this year, PCS surveyed members throughout HMRC using the Health and Safety Executive’s stress management standards. The survey sought to establish the causes of stress within HMRC, with sickness absence due to stress consistently accounting for more than one-third of all sickness absence within HMRC.
The survey was issued by PCS directly to all members within HMRC following lengthy negotiations with HMRC’s occupational health, safety and wellbeing team where they refused to recognise the need to establish the causes of significant stress levels within the department by surveying HMRC staff. HMRC also refused to allow PCS to issue the survey using departmental IT systems.
Unsurprisingly, the results of the stress survey showed the highest stressors for HMRC staff are change and demands, closely followed by managers support. Under the change category, 64% of respondents stated they were regularly not consulted about change at work, and 51% stated that when changes are made in the workplace that they are often unclear how they will work out in practice.
Under the demands category, 67.5% said they regularly have to work very intensively and 55% stated they often had to work very fast to get through their workload. When considering managers' support, 47% of those who responded stated that they were often not supported through emotionally demanding work, and 36% stated they are not given supportive feedback from their manager.
Additional concerns include 58% of members who responded stating they have no control over the work that they do, 41% who say they have little to no say in their work speed, and 38% who say they often have unrealistic time pressures while at work.
PCS will now be working to escalate to HMRC all of the concerns identified within the stress survey and will use every opportunity to ensure HMRC takes action in reducing the unnecessary and significant levels of work-related stress placed on our members.
If you feel stressed and under a lot of pressure while at work there are a number of things you could do which may help: ensure you discuss how you are feeling with your manager or with their line manager if appropriate, complete a stress reduction plan and ensure this is reviewed regularly, submit an ACC1 for work-related stress, contact workplace wellness on 0800 111 6387 at any time, seek help from your GP for treatment of any ill-health symptoms and diagnosis of work-related stress, and speak to your local PCS rep for help and assistance when needed.