BEIS offers £80k to find out why its staff are leaving

Written by Tamsin Rutter on 12 September 2017 in News

The business department is seeking a private consultant to investigate retention problems

BEIS was formed last year following a merger of two departments. Credit: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has advertised an £80,000 contract for a private company to investigate its staff retention problems.

The department has around 3,000 employees but sees between 35 and 50 people quit every month, and says it has “no reliable data” on why they leave or where they go.

It is now seeking bids via the government contracts finder website for a consultant to carry out exit interviews and provide questionnaires for leavers, to identify trends and make recommendations to the head of workforce planning at BEIS.


The department – which was formed last year following the merger of the Department for Energy and Climate Change with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – expects its workforce to grow by 10% due to Brexit.

According to its tender document, BEIS has been focused for the past year on the issues arising from the machinery of government change, and now wants to turn its attention to retention. 

A BEIS spokesperson said: “The department has gone through a huge transition since it was created last July and we have taken steps to make sure all of our staff feel valued and that we continue to attract talented people.

“We are keen to understand what more we can do to support these efforts. We already conduct exit interviews and the successful bidder will help us to act on their results.”

Retention has emerged as growing problem across the civil service, with Brexit and pay constraint thought to be partly to blame.

The Cabinet Office, in particular, recorded a huge increase to 35% in staff turnover last year, while the Institute for Government sounded the alarm this week over retention of civil service specialists ahead of changes to customs arrangements following Brexit.

A June poll by the FDA, the trade union representing senior civil servants, found that almost a third of its members want to leave the civil service as soon as possible, with dissatisfaction over pay one of the most cited reasons. 

Meanwhile the government announced this week that it plans to lift the 1% cap on public sector pay for police and prison officers, to address increasing retention issues in these sectors.

Julian McCrae, deputy director of the Institute for Government, told that The Times that turnover in the civil service has always been a problem because people get moved around so much.
“With Brexit, departments need to be keeping people in post much longer than in the past,” he said.

“They need experienced people to get through a year or more of very tricky negotiations and then to implement the new regimes for a further two or three years.”

He also said that BEIS’ retention problems are unsurprising, and praised the department’s openness.

“But it’s an odd procurement to choose because you would have thought it’s the sort of thing a decent human relations department could do without commissioning external work, not least because the reasons people chose to stay are just as interesting,” he added.

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Tamsin Rutter
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Tamsin Rutter is senior reporter for Civil Service World and tweets as @TamsinRutter

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Mr Rees Mogg (not verified)

Submitted on 12 September, 2017 - 14:04
Errrrrrrrrrrr, maybe because BEIS's pay structure is much less than the other government departments? Save your 80k and read this.

Ridge V (not verified)

Submitted on 12 September, 2017 - 16:14
Maybe BEIS should look at advertising their jobs allowing existing civil servants to apply nationwide. Having looked at the BEIS jobs listed on the Civil Service Job website today the majority of jobs are located at London which is a shame as there are talented staff located in different areas of the country who work work for another agency or branch of BEIS..

A.N. Other (not verified)

Submitted on 13 September, 2017 - 08:07
As a mid grade civil servant, not at BEIS; it's been 10 years of a 1% pay freeze (capped at £250 for a number of those years), removal of spine points and any pay progression opportunities, forced to accept new terms and conditions on promotion which means a third less sick pay, reduction of annual leave and working additional hours. Coupled with old fashioned civil service attitidues, bully and harrassment, micro management, under resourced teams etc. Should it not be common practice for HR to conduct exit interviews, well yes it would, if HR departments hadn't been reduced to recruitment machines and all other responsibilities outsourced to a phone line employee assistance service. On the assumption and liklihood that the situation is similar at BEIS, does the tax payer (and I'm one too dont forget) really need to spend £80k on a consultant to tell you why there is such high turnover??

Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted on 13 September, 2017 - 09:21
Makes this look a little careless

Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted on 13 September, 2017 - 12:41
I left because I didn't like the culture. I was part of the organisation when it was DTI, then I joined Energy and Climate Change (DECC). In my view the senior management in DECC across 2014- 16 created a pretty rubbish environment that I was not proud to be part of. Most of that senior team moved into BEIS and I decided it was time to find a happier place to work. Nearly everyone in my team of about 20 people had similar feelings and many have left as a consequence. Those that haven't left feel trapped and are not happy in the organisation. Pay is of course an issue but I accepted that, and have stayed within central government - just not BEIS.

Abdul Zx (not verified)

Submitted on 13 September, 2017 - 14:18
Its not rocket science. Awful rates of pay, lack of transparency, schemes like BIS 2020 introduced, then swept under the carpet with no admission of fault, Senior leaders like Gareth Davies giving contracts to his pals in private sector consultancies.


Submitted on 21 October, 2018 - 17:45
There is also an awful culture around reasonable adjustments. The rules governing them are, from my point of view, very fair, openminded, and supportive, but in my time there I've never seen those rules followed, and have seen several colleagues whom I know to have "hidden disabilities" leave the room quickly while looking like they might burst into tears.

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