Speaking at a quarterly hearing of the Public Accounts Committee, Mr Parker faced a range of questions alongside States treasurer Richard Bell, the director-general for Strategic Policy, Performance and Population, Tom Walker, and chief of staff Catherine Madden.
When asked by Deputy Rowland Huelin about plans to improve the culture in the civil service when morale was ‘at an all-time low’, Mr Parker said that the process of organisational change in the States was in a ‘difficult phase’ but that it was necessary to ‘go right down before you come out’.
‘There has been no large-scale change programme I have led where that hasn’t happened,’ he said, ‘and invariably, you have to start to address that on a regular basis. But here, you have got that compounded by a number of really big decisions that have come together at the same time.
‘Not only are we dealing with change, it’s against the backdrop, for example, of pay restraint over a period of time. It’s against the backdrop of not having modernised a number of areas.’
When providing examples of how the issue of morale is being addressed, Mr Parker said that there was an ‘enormous amount of face-to-face work going on with staff’.
The issue of performance management within the States was also covered, with Mr Walker, who is responsible for introducing a new regime to set performance measures for staff, explaining the objectives of the new structure.
He used the example of fire safety, saying: ‘We need to make sure that we minimise casualties and fatalities from house fires. That’s the outcome people expect us to achieve.’
His comments come at the end of a month that has seen the Fire and Rescue Service apparently instructed by an internal States memo not to give voice to resourcing challenges that, according to the service, had left them ‘without cover’ towards the beginning of November.
An email leaked to the JEP appeared to direct Fire and Rescue officers to keep quiet about any ‘lack of resources to attend incidents’ and instead focus on being ‘reassuring’ when communicating with the public.
At the end of the hearing, Mr Parker added that there had been ‘interesting exit information’ from sessions with the organisation’s 200 most senior employees ‘who get where we are, are recognising that we are going to have to come through this phase, but coming out the other end, and they believe that there are green shoots of change and there is light at the end of the tunnel’.