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The importance of good people practices and staff communication

Guest Blog by the DVLA’s HR director, Phil Bushby.

On 13 December 2011, DVLA announced a public consultation exercise called ‘Transforming DVLA Services’. We knew we could serve our customers better and more efficiently by centralising services at our Swansea office and by providing more choice and flexibility around how and when motorists deal with the Agency. This affected 39 local offices around the UK and 1,260 staff. For the first time, our staff faced the prospect of redundancy, so it was essential that we implemented a plan to support them.

The change was planned in accordance with Cabinet Office protocols, including but not limited to: the launch of a redundancy scheme; consultation meetings with the trade union; providing compensation statements; and considering all options for redeployment of surplus staff and recruiting in to new posts created in Swansea.

Clear communication with staff during this difficult time was vital. We implemented a number of communications activities to ensure that all staff were informed of new developments and kept up to speed. We knew that clear, timely communication to all staff was of the utmost importance:

  • All 39 local office managers held face to face briefings with their staff to provide updates throughout the duration of the project.
  • The CEO and Directors made visits to all 39 offices throughout Great Britain, from Inverness at the most Northern point to Truro in the South, between them ensuring visibility and the opportunity for staff to ask questions.
  • Our HR team met with all staff on a one to one basis to gain an initial understanding of individual preferences. The HR team held four to five individual meetings with every member of staff affected.
  • Two web pages and a dedicated mailbox were developed to keep staff up to date with developments and to provide critical information and legal advice around what the closure meant. These allowed staff to ask questions directly to the project team, and provided key information on ‘themes’ such as redeployment and re-employment, redundancy, pension advice, compensation, and maternity or career breaks.

Other new activities introduced, improved and amended during the transitional period include:

  • Staff were given 2 hours a week to search for jobs. DVLA supported staff with  training support of up to £750
  • Other government departments were alerted to our surplus situation in order to increase the chance of redeployment in to their vacancies
  • Civil Service Learning (CSL) was promoted and made accessible to all staff to develop transferrable skills, particularly in IT.
  • Workshops were arranged for affected staff to provide guidance on using the revised civil service competency framework in applying for jobs
  • All managers attended a ‘managing change’ learning event to support themselves and their staff through the process.
  • We offered training on CV preparation, interview skills and career counselling. In addition, representatives from Job Centre Plus and the Money Advice Service visited local offices to enable staff to understand all their options.
  • The Investors in People framework provided a best practice approach to the planning, rollout and management of the activity, acting as a road map to ensure senior managers, stakeholders and staff received the best possible service they could.
  • Regular engagement with Trade Union representatives was essential to the successful execution, working together through consultation, negotiating where appropriate and establishing positive relationships ensured success in this area.

Planning and communications were pivotal to the success of the closure programme; ensuring that relevant stakeholders were involved at key times in conjunction with specific milestones.

We ensured that all our HR staff received the appropriate training to ensure they were able to provide on the spot advice and guidance in 9 out of 10 cases. This instilled confidence in our staff that their best interests were being taken care of. Where our HR department was unable to help, we provided experts who were on-hand to talk and answer questions.

Staff across the country received the same message and support at the same time; ensuring communication was accurate, consistent and available to all.

The delivery of the project has helped the DVLA achieve £68.7m savings (by 31 March 2014), towards a target of £100m by 31 March 2015. Of a total of 1,260 staff, 288 were redeployed to other government departments saving £5.2m in redundancy costs, 58 retained posts with the DVLA in Swansea or remote locations and of the remaining 914 staff, all but one left the agency under voluntary means.

Good people management practices and innovative techniques have enabled us to transition through a period of extreme change, and emerge at the other end as a more digital business. Being recognised for an Investors in People Award for Excellence demonstrates the impact we have already achieved, and continue to achieve, in DVLA by applying the IIP Framework.

The Investors in People Awards are being held at the IIP Gold accredited Landmark Hotel in London on 23 June. For more information, visit

(Photo: Ben Birchall / PA)


Alan Webb   23/06/2014 at 15:03

I think this whole exercise is crazy,as a community support worker ward councilor etc! the loss of the (car tax disc) has got to be the worst nightmare workers and the members of the public could face,When either myself out and about or when we go out in small community groups checking for dumped or untaxed cars etc!at first glance can be reported ,now when your out driving and you are hit by a car etc,even less chance of hoping they have insurance or m.o.t major headache and even more work for less people to carry out for safetys sake keep the tax disc and the jobs!!!!!!

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