Dual Qualified Meat Hygiene Inspector/Technician in North of England
A bad time to work there
Worked at the height of the BSE crisis when scientific explanation was very contradictory. A confusing time for the food, particularly the meat industry. Could be enlivened to the Covid crisis.
Analyst in London, Greater London
Incompetent middle managers, awful office politics culture
The stereotype of government run agencies are mostly true, I am sad to have learned: overpaid middle managers who add no value to the company (and thus to society); bad culture (office politics, slow bureaucratic practices); large proportion of resources spent on useless tasks; nepotism and cliquey attitude; unwillingness to adapt to changes. Of course, there is no incentive for them to fix any of this, but that's just the nature of these sorts of agencies.
Officer in London, Greater London
It keeps getting worse
For all the talk of diversity blah blah, it's a very cliquey environment full of incompetent yes-men. You don't need to come from a particular background but you need to fit in and you need to watch your back. If you are a self-promoter and care about your advancement above anything else, you may like it.
In the years before Brexit they got rid of a lot of experienced staff then after Brexit they were forced to recruit new people to cope with the increased workload. The new recruits were mostly young and inexperienced. The department has changed dramatically as a consequence. It wasn't great before but now it really has lost its way.
You don't need to be terribly bright to join or to be promoted. With the exception of a handful of genuinely talented people, most Defra employees are average. The problem is that people are promoted beyond their abilities. Most middle managers (and there are far too many of them!) are so inadequate it's painful to watch them making decisions. So much money is wasted as a result. But they don't seem to care. Briefings for ministers can frequently be inaccurate or plainly wrong. Feeble, uncertain evidence is presented as facts.
Like most ambitious, mediocre people out of their depth, this army of self-congratulatory, overpaid middle managers cannot handle criticism or a different point of view. So they become petty, intolerant micro-managers who back each other up. There used to be room for people with an independent mind but it's becoming harder to be a critical voice.
The pension scheme is still good, and they do encourage work-life balance. But a Rolls-Royce it is not. More like an echo chamber.
Administration Assistant in York, North Yorkshire
Initially relaxed, then developed to stressful atmosphere.
Particular department changed to inexperienced management with little technical knowledge. Work then became more about delivering your stats rather than accuracy of financial work and customer care.
Senior Manager in London, Greater London
Challenging and constantly changing environment
Typical days at work were very long. I regularly worked from 7am to 7/8pm most days.
The management had very high expectations of delivery despite the constantly changing objectives. There was not always clear direction and support in achieving these aims and as such.
The workplace culture was fast paced and challenging.
The hardest part of the job was getting individuals to accept and embrace change - particularly where what was being implemented was a significant departure from what they were used to.