The Swedish Tax Agency is responsible for controlling as well as informing and assisting the taxpayers. Even if these tasks are not necessarily contradictory, they can be difficult to perform all at once. In their performance of duties, tax agency employees have to meet the expectations of the management as well as of the taxpayers. The goal fulfilment of the Tax Agency is contingent on the organisation’s ability to provide a stress-free working environment. Stress may cause physical and psychological problems.
- tax psychology
- tax agency policies
- group and organisation psychology
- ethical stress
In a previous article, published in
The present article discusses the organisational and psychological provisions and support required for tax officers to meet the demands of the top management. Some of the examples are selected from the Swedish Tax Agency, but applies probably equally to tax administrations in other countries, such as the Nordic countries, while they are organised in a similar way. Although personal qualities are important factors, the structure and function of the organisation also affect performances. In addition to personal qualities, the members of staff have acquired the knowledge and skills provided by the institutional structure, the so-called public agency culture, through the management, colleagues and various internal professional development initiatives. The Tax Agency has shifted focus from suspiciousness and error correction after the event to trusting taxpayers until proven wrong and investing more energy in service and preventing errors to start with. The governing principle is that it is both better and cheaper for the taxpayer as well as for the Tax Agency if all statements are correct on submission (cf. Kellgren and Rosenlöf (2014); Wittberg (2012)). Tax control should aim at strengthening and maintaining norms to ensure that the taxpayers willingly participate in taxation (Skatteverket (2005a)). I have earlier emphasised the advantages of visiting taxpayers for the purpose of informing rather than controlling them (Höglund (2008)). In 2006, the Tax Agency made few visits to companies, but performed 7 000 audits. In 2010, there were 80 000 visits and around 3 000 audits. The reason for the great number of company visits in 2010 was the new system of certified cash registers (Wittberg 2012). For the period 2011-2014 the number of company visits has been between 45 000-55 000 and it is very gratifying that the Tax Agency spends funds on making such extensive preventive efforts.
While the demand for service provision has increased, a number of regulations to control the taxpayers have also been introduced, not least in regard to business,
Too much of sectorialised thinking can be detrimental. A holistic approach involves understanding how disparate parts interrelate as a whole (e.g. Jackson (2013)). A supervisor’s wish to minimise every phone call may seem cost efficient, but can in the larger perspective be counter-productive with dissatisfied citizens and a number of unnecessary contacts. In an administration like the Swedish Tax Agency, it is therefore important for the top management to take a holistic approach to the whole case management process. A system’s perspective means avoiding the sub optimisation of one unit achieving its goals at the expense of another. A sub optimisation can be counterproductive in providing good service to the taxpayers.
As mentioned before, the previous article centred on social cognition,
The method used in this article is not a traditional legal dogmatic method, but has instead an interdisciplinary approach, and can be seen as a continuation of the previously mentioned article on tax psychology. Various topics such as administrative law, organisation theory, organisation psychology, behavioural analysis, physical and mental health will be discussed in this article. The subject and consequensly the literature is extensive. The literature can on such grounds not be complete, but the choosen literature represents instead a choice of several different sources. There is of course a risk that I have missed other important opinions than mentioned in this article. The article can in certain aspects be seen as descriptive, as it covers so many different areas. The idea is that this article should be seen as a first step in an unexploited area. I have not found any other article with the same approach in Swedish doctrine. For this reason can be expected that there is a need for the issues of tax officials’ work-related situation and health. It is furthermore important to make a new and interdisciplinary survey of the Tax agency’s staff in order to really get to know how they feel. It is my ambition to make such a survey in the future.
This article presents the Tax Agency’s mandate and vision along with the Agency’s values and guidelines in sections 2 and 3, and also how different forms of stress and illness staff can affect staff in their employment (section 4). Since the Tax Agency organisation culture and leadership greatly impact on how employees perceive their situation, I describe this impact and suggest what a good organisation culture and leadership entails (sections 5 and 6). Finally, section 7 includes a summing up and concluding remarks.
Public administration in Sweden has shifted from only fulfilling the decisions of the parliament and government to encompassing the citizens’ demands of good services. The so called The citizens have the right to a high-quality public administration. This involves accessibility of information and services in accordance with public needs, speedy case management processes and correct decisions, as well as attentiveness,
The citizens have the right to a high-quality public administration. This involves accessibility of information and services in accordance with public needs, speedy case management processes and correct decisions, as well as attentiveness,
The Tax Agency should not only be characterised by rule of law and efficiency but also innovation and cooperation. In the preparatory process, innovation is primarily referred to as the ability to establish, in cooperation, more value-creating systems that accommodate the citizens’ (users) requests for high quality public services, the employees’ wish to do a good job (the professions) and the state’s (principal) demands for efficient resource utilisation. New ideas and procedures are expected to avert unnecessary bureaucracy, simplify people’s daily life and promote an even more efficient handling of the taxpayers’ money. Coordination between State and municipal as well as between other public agencies is viewed as necessary to avoid sub optimisation collisions. Through IT-solutions (e-government) resources can be made available and more resources can be allocated to qualified work (Proposition [prop.] 2009/10:175 [government bill] (swed.). However, efficient value-creation requires that the taxpayers have the chance to choose how and where to meet and that the meetings are transparent and in accordance with information given and standard procedures. This means that the taxpayers should be offered the chance to solve their problems electronically or through a face-to-face meeting and that they are informed about the possibility. Taxpayers should get the same answers to their questions regardless of meeting format and the answers should take roughly the same time whatever the format (cf. Sousa and Voss (2006)).
A certain degree of tax control is always required, but it has to be perceived as fair, inspiring confidence and resting on legitimate mandate. Providing service is not only a matter of supporting taxpayers but it also contributes to a climate of legitimate power and rational trust. Strengthening the norms that lead to increased willingness to do the right thing is more cost-efficient than deterrent control. In recent years, the Tax Agency has gradually emphasised positive norm strengthening more than traditional deterrent measures (Wittberg 2015). In Höglund (2008) I suggested that the Tax Agency in a higher degree should work with ”preventive healthcare”,
In Höglund (2008) I suggested that the Tax Agency in a higher degree should work with ”preventive healthcare”,
It is of fundamental importance that Tax Agency staff are not only formally qualified and have good personal qualities but that they are given the opportunities to perform their duties in the organisation efficiently. With efficiency I mean not just solving many tasks as quickly as possible but finding optimal long-term and good solutions for the taxpayers.
Information technology has without doubt brought about considerable improvement and effectivisations, but it can also be argued that in certain respects it has reduced accessibility as the physical distance between the citizen and the officer has increased in some cases (Quist and Fransson (2014)). The personal contact with a tax officer must not be underrated and many misunderstandings can be avoided through a face-to-face meeting, where the officer can not only answer questions but also ask questions to eliminate possible misunderstandings.
According to The Agency for Public Management highlights the importance of physical meetings between individuals and public agencies and the geographical equivalence in service,
The Agency for Public Management highlights the importance of physical meetings between individuals and public agencies and the geographical equivalence in service,
A simple model of responsibility with a single accountable party and a single party demanding accountability can be seen as a deficient description of reality. Many public servants experience that they work in various forms of partnership where different parties are responsible for different sides of a joint operation,
In an international comparison, the Swedish administration is generally regarded as decentralised (Quist and Fransson (2014)). The Swedish administration is now undergoing a development in the opposite direction, with a reduction of local tax offices and courts merging into fewer units. The Tax Agency document
In a public hearing in the Swedish Parliament on 1 October 2015, the Director-General of the Tax Agency was heavily criticised by the parliamentary parties regarding the decision to close down a number of tax offices. Apparently, the Director-General was seen to combine the demands for efficiency and local presence by developing the digital service and by referring the taxpayer to service offices while tax offices were closed down if personal contacts were needed. According to the Director-General of the Tax Agency, a tax office should normally have around 100 to150 employees. The Tax Agency has decided to suspend the close down of a further nine offices pending the State Treasury report on 1 April 2016. See Government decision of 13 May 2015 (Fi2015/2870).
According to the Director-General of the Tax Agency, a tax office should normally have around 100 to150 employees. The Tax Agency has decided to suspend the close down of a further nine offices pending the State Treasury report on 1 April 2016. See Government decision of 13 May 2015 (Fi2015/2870).
The governance of companies and organisations has changed from a directive without justifications to so-called Some calim, however, that the considerable amount of administrative and financial data in the agency’s operation have led to a return of Taylorism in the public sector through the pursuit of performances and costs. See also Innovationsrådet (2012).
Some calim, however, that the considerable amount of administrative and financial data in the agency’s operation have led to a return of Taylorism in the public sector through the pursuit of performances and costs. See also Innovationsrådet (2012).
Studies show that citizens’ trust is greater in administration if they feel affinity with the officers. The Tax Agency should therefore recruit employees of different geographical, social, ethnic and cultural background to display diversity and gain more trust from the Swedish multicultural population (cf. Tyler (2003, 2006)).
The Tax Agency’s cooperation with the taxpayer is important for the sake of the rule of law, but also to ensure that the control is as effective as possible, Research shows that the taxpayer reacts positively to good service and cooperation and that the willingness to conform to laws is thereby strengthened as well as the respect for the complex tax rules and tax administration (Hultqvist (1994); Bentley (1998); Rikskatteverket (1983)).
The Tax Agency ethics policy states: We are here for the citizens. We work on the assumption that everyone wants to do the right thing, and we consider every meeting to be an opportunity to boost the trust in our organisation. Everyone that we come in contact with should perceive us as
The Tax Agency ethics policy states:
We are here for the citizens. We work on the assumption that everyone wants to do the right thing, and we consider every meeting to be an opportunity to boost the trust in our organisation. Everyone that we come in contact with should perceive us as
According to the debated Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, language determines our way of thinking and our worldview (Schultz (1990)). It can be discussed if it is the other way round, but it is indisputable that language meaning and abstract words are easily misunderstood. When the Tax Agency in their ethics policy stipulates that employees should be pro-active, reliable and helpful, it can be interpreted in many ways. Pro-active may mean that the officer is involved in many processes where the oputcome is always guaranteed. Reliability may mean collect debts to the state at all costs regardless of the taxpayer’s sense of being victimised. Even the word It was the American researcher S. I. Hayakawa who emphasised the rhetorical concept “The Ladder of Abstraction”.
It was the American researcher S. I. Hayakawa who emphasised the rhetorical concept “The Ladder of Abstraction”.
The tax officer is expected to convey the values of the Tax Agency according to the guidelines issued. The Agency’s ethics policy states that the employees shall contribute to enhancing transparency, respect, correct treatment and diversity in the organisation. The government report SOU (2008, 106)
The Agency has the ambition to stimulate creativity, learning and development, and in addition make decisions with legal certainty and efficiency. In other words, the Agency has to deliver the cost-efficient goals set by the Parliament and the government. The ethics policy also states that employees must meet the requirements listed below:
Everyone is a co-worker, and as a co-worker
I work professionally and result-oriented and contribute to the pupose of the agency I understand my role and cooperate with other for the common good of the organisation I am innovative, ready for change and take responsibility for my own development I constantly strive to improve routines, prevent errors, simplify and clarify I relate to other people’s situation and is helpful I share knowledge and experiences with others I stand by my words and give and take praise and constructive criticism I speak and write objectively and comprehensibly I contribute to the spirit of community and a good atmosphere at work with respectful treatment of colleagues and external contacts.
I work professionally and result-oriented and contribute to the pupose of the agency
I understand my role and cooperate with other for the common good of the organisation
I am innovative, ready for change and take responsibility for my own development
I constantly strive to improve routines, prevent errors, simplify and clarify
I relate to other people’s situation and is helpful
I share knowledge and experiences with others
I stand by my words and give and take praise and constructive criticism
I speak and write objectively and comprehensibly
I contribute to the spirit of community and a good atmosphere at work with respectful treatment of colleagues and external contacts.
The knowledge and skills needed at the Tax Agency requires employees to see possibilities for change at work, to have broad qualifications to handle all the steps in the case management process and be able to understand the situation of a company or a private citizen (Skatteverket (2015)). The tax officer needs to have empathy with the tax-payer, as well as the cognitive ability to discern the taxpayer’s true needs (Höglund and Nöjd (2014)). It is of the utmost importance to public trust in the tax system and in the Tax Agency that the officers listen to taxpayers and explain decisions, so called ‘experienced justice’ (Skatteverket (2009)).
But this is not enough. The tax officer should also contribute to avert failure demands, which are defined as actions unrequested by the taxpayer and usually the result of an omission on the part of the officer or that the officer has not acted correctly from the taxpayer’s perspective (Quist and Fransson (2013, 2015)). The concept failure demand was introduced by Seddon in
The concept failure demand was introduced by Seddon in
The human brain is to a great extent developed to communicate with other people and issues of rank and social hierarchies are important factors. Social aspects are therefore important from a stress perspective. Selye defines stress as a bodily unspecified keying-up, a physiological reaction in response to a challenge or external strain.He called the circumstances provoking this reaction stressorer. See Selye (1958).
Selye defines stress as a bodily unspecified keying-up, a physiological reaction in response to a challenge or external strain.He called the circumstances provoking this reaction stressorer. See Selye (1958).
The Tax Agency’s document More contacts with taxpayers and external actors, combined with increased flexibility, mean that staff must be able to handle situations rather than certain steps in a work procedure. This requires a method that involves staff’s ability to improvise independently and with prudence on the basis of knowledge of suppose, frames and circumstances.
More contacts with taxpayers and external actors, combined with increased flexibility, mean that staff must be able to handle situations rather than certain steps in a work procedure. This requires a method that involves staff’s ability to improvise independently and with prudence on the basis of knowledge of suppose, frames and circumstances.
According to the model of
Antonovsky is regarded as one of the first to have analysed socioeconomic position and ill health. According to Antonovsky, poor people lacked a clear sense of social coherence, that is, a sense of context and community, which led to poor health. The individual needs to be part of the community and to experience being regarded as a valuable resource Antonovsky (1994a, b)). Antonovsky’s ideas of perception and community have a bearing on public agency staff. Other researchers, for example, Marmot och Sapolsky have confirmed his conclusions of the relation between stress, illness and poverty. Even Sen emphasises the strong connection between health and economic and social development. Sen claims that freedom is not only a sign of development but also a means of development, and that different types of freedom are reciprocally reinforcing. He even claims that the elimination of actual lack of freedom is a constitutive condition for development. Economic lack of freedom can create social lack of freedom just as social or political lack of freedom can result in economic lack of freedom. Freedom is thus both ethically and economically desirable. Even if Sen does not underestimate the power of the market forces to effect economic development, he strongly criticises the one-sided emphasis of economic factors that economist tend to display. Investigating public health makes it possible to decide what promotes the well-being of citizens (Sen (2002)).
According to Marmot, our chances to have autonomy and to enjoy full social engagement and participation are decisive for our physical as well as psychological health. Imbalance in these areas has great impact on the social health gradient (Marmot (2006)). The brain is, according to Marmot, the most important organ for the social health gradient (Marmot (2006)). It could be termed the social group gradient -the lower the social standing, the poorer the health (Levi (2012)). Gradient is a physical or mathematical term meaning that the concentration or the amount of something changes with movement. In the rich countries, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and mental disorders correspond to a social gradient. The lower the social standing, the greater the risk of health hazards is. The psychological perception of inequality has a radical effect on body and soul. We do not only value a good life; we also want to have control of it (Marmot (2006)). Having autonomy has a clear effect on health and lack of autonomy can lead to stress (Marmot (2006)). Our life circumstances have a strong correlation to our life span and the risk of being ill (Marmot (2006)). The status syndrome does not only cover absolute poverty but also inequity and not only in terms of the best and worse off people (Marmot (2006)).
Being at the bottom of the hierarchy means being susceptible to all kinds of diseases. The health gradient is the result of social differences. Being poor and being far down in the hierarchy creates a feeling of helplessness, a lack of autonomy and increased risk of being ill (Marmot (2006)). Swedish studies confirm that the combination of lack of self-determination and high demands increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases (Johnson
A very comprehensive study, or rather several studies, demonstrating the correlation between health and socioeconomic gaps, is the so call
Lack of social engagement and control of life, in the sense of not being able to live the life we aspire to, lead to chronic stress, which in turn increases the risk of many illnesses, for example, cardiovascular disorders (Marmot (2006)). The higher the social standing, the greater the happiness is. Happiness is determined relationally, that is, the relative position to others affects our health (Marmot (2006)).
If stress leads to illness, such differences can have great impact on the health gradient. The
Erikson was inspired by the
Stress is not only produced by real physical or psychological affliction, but also by the very thought of threat. The body reacts to stress by rapidly mobilising bodily energy reserves while preventing storing. Glucose, proteins and free fatty acids are released into the blood stream from fat cells, the liver and muscles, and directed to the muscle groups that are work to save stressed person’s life. This physical function might have been crucial in the stone ages, but at present it can be very detrimental. If stress hormones are constantly activated, for example, in stressful situations at work, they can pose just as much of a threat as the threat to be averted. During long periods of stress, the immune system becomes reduced and organisms more vulnerable. Organisms will work harder and harder to preserve a healthy balance. The brain will gradually lose its acuteness, which will affect the ability to think (Seddon (2003)).
Sapolsky has studied baboons in Eastern Africa, and shown that the higher the position in the group, the better the health. He found chronically increased stress reactions in baboons with a low social standing, which produced high glucocorticoid levels, high blood pressure and increased risk of arterioscierosis (Seddon (2003)). The acute stress reaction to fight or flee is exactly what the body needs in an emergency with an immediate threat, and acute stress. Stress will be a serious problem for the body when the stress reaction becomes long-term and the stress chronic.
It is a myth that the responsible-burdened, Chief Executive Officer, CEO is more prone to be afflicted with illness than other occupational groups. It is the middle manager who is afflicted with stress-related symptoms (Seddon (2003)). But being poor, and uneducated, also comes with psychological stress since such a situation means having no power to influence it and not knowing what will happen next. Low socioeconomic status is, in other words, associated with chronic stress. Also in rich and relatively equal countries like Sweden and Denmark, where National Health Service is well developed, the correlation between poverty and illness remains. There is also a link between level of education and income: the higher the education level, the higher the income (Seddon (2003)).
According to Cassel, social relationships protect against illness as they increase the resistance of the body. Supportive social relationships soften the bodily stress reactions. Social cohesion at work generates better health (Casses (1076)).
Organisations are human groups, deliberately constructed to achieve specific goals. The organisation is a complicated social system, which must be studied as a total system if individual behaviour within it is to be understood (Schein (1974)). There has been a doctrinal shift in the 80s from detailed management to increased freedom and more responsibility for co-workers as well as management based on ideas and visions. Engaged and participating coworkers contribute to developing the operations on the basis of their understanding of the purpose of the organisation, from external to internal motivation (Sandberg and Targama (2013)).
The new organisation ideas have been noted but not implemented in practice, as it is difficult to grasp the notion of understanding and how to influence it. Understanding is to be implemented by taking the co-workers’ way of perceiving their own work and the purpose of the organisation as the starting-point. In this way, the management develop independent co-workers and the organisation at the same time (Sandberg and Targama (2013)). Research has shown that daily freedom and influence are necessary for job satisfaction (Gardell (1971, 1976)).
A Swedish study points to the correlation between leadership and health. A group of men were asked to fill in a questionnaire about their workplace and management. In the cases where the management did a good job, were engaged in the employees, allowed them to participate in the planning of their work, and gave feedback, the risk of cardiovascular disease was reduced unlike the workplaces where the management was less successful. Good leadership clearly had a positive effect in reducing heart attack risks. The result was the same when smoking habits, blood pressure, blood fat, physical activity and a number of other risk factors to the heart were taken into account
Influence hinges on providing the employees with enough information and real opportunities to influence their situation by taking their suggestions for improvements seriously. There must be structures and routines enabling influence. The individual’s opportunity to control their situation is of fundamental importance to health (Theorell (2003)). But freedom without structure, unconditional freedom, can, on the other hand be anxiety-inducing and a stress factor (Strannegård and Ernsjöö (2003)).
A person never performs an “objectively given” task but always an “understood” task. A person’s understanding of a task, forms, organises and develops knowledge and skills while performing it. High qualifications require understanding. Measures taken appropriately contribute to increased understanding while measures erroneously taken lead to decline and less motivation (Ljungberg and Larsson (2012)).
The concept Wether the term lean or TPS should be used can be discussed. Lean can be seen as a strategy og flow efficiency in TPS and thus be a part of a whole. I choose to use the more common term Modig and Åhlström divide lean into three levels 1. See Toyota’s Swedish homepage
Wether the term lean or TPS should be used can be discussed. Lean can be seen as a strategy og flow efficiency in TPS and thus be a part of a whole. I choose to use the more common term
Modig and Åhlström divide lean into three levels 1.
See Toyota’s Swedish homepage
Toyota’s production method builds on constant improvement, in the form of a long-term and challenging vision of development and continuous improvement efforts, respect for people and the practice of stimulating the progress of individuals and groups.
Liker thinks that Toyota’s system rests on two main strategies: one for flow efficiency (
Toyota’s management philosophy differs from traditional thinking through mentorship, learning, problem solving and understanding of problems and operations. It is not enough to describe what Toyota does in terms and methods, but it is necessary to consider employees, their skills, motivation and engagement (Rother (2013)).
We can speak of “to be in control of” and “to have control over” our work. To be in control refers to the small things, while control over refers to overriding decisions and degree of mandate to decide (Theorell (2003)). If Tax Agency employees are trusted with great freedom in solving their tasks but given insufficient means and bad management, it can lead to stress although freedom is provided. The psychological problems have to reasonable if anxiety-inducing situations at work are to be avoided, see below the three-dimensional model Demand-Control-Support.
An employee can handle and psychologically manage difficult tasks in a good way if there is workplace support, both from colleagues and management. However, psychology is not the only issue; there are also organisational factors. The goals of the organisation are import as support. The ideal situation is a workplace with reasonable demands, with good social support and mandate to decide for the employees (Theorell (2003)). Reorganisations involving loss of control, lower status and fewer professional development opportunitie, for example, increase the risk of illness (Theorell (2003)). It is important that employees can influence their work situation, but civil servants’ demand for democracy is often problematic since such demands can clash with decisions made in a democratic process. In other words, there may be a conflict between employee participation and general will.
An example of failed implementation of
Organisations differ from each other a great deal in regard to history, branch, leadership philosophy or whether it is an open or closed organisation. To implement organisational changes it is important to understand its culture. This involves behaviours that have systematically been reinforced or weakened by persons or systems in the organisation over a long time (Bang (1999); Olofsson (2010)). Organisation culture is defined as the shared set of norms, values and perception of reality that are developed in an organisation when colleagues work together and interact externally.
Organisation culture is defined as the shared set of norms, values and perception of reality that are developed in an organisation when colleagues work together and interact externally.
Organisation psychology defines individuals as members of an organisation, more or less visible externally, more or less active. The purpose of organisation psychology is to attain aunderstanding of how structural and content aspects of business affect individuals, but also what psychological effects the management expects to see as a result of certain organisation forms (Westlander (1993)). Through psychological knowledge we can predict the effects of different changes in individual behaviour (Skinner (1969); Olofsson (2010)). The application is called
Drawing on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an explanatory model in psychology of how people prioritise their needs. According to the theory, basic needs, Taylorism, or scientific management, is based on time and motion study, divided into components, of especially manual workers, a functional factory organisation, and a far-reaching individual paysetting system. See National Encyclopedin.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an explanatory model in psychology of how people prioritise their needs. According to the theory, basic needs,
Taylorism, or scientific management, is based on time and motion study, divided into components, of especially manual workers, a functional factory organisation, and a far-reaching individual paysetting system. See National Encyclopedin.
There are two types of reinforcement: positive and negative and a third variant called extinction. Extinction involves the absence of a consequence as, for example, a proposal is neither appreciated, nor commented on, but simply ignored. Positive reinforcement means that something is added, while negative reinforcement entails that something is removed. Negative reinforcement has the effect that employees increase a behaviour in order to avoid something, for example, reprimands or being dismissed, while positive reinforcement has the effect that employees have positive feelings such as joy, curiosity and eagerness to work. Both positive and negative reinforcement can increase employee performance but on different grounds (Olofsson (2010)). A radical change, moving from negative to positive reinforcement, is the so.called discretionary performance, which means that employees perform because they want to achieve something and not because they must (Braksich (2007)). Positive feedback is important and can lead to reduced anxiety and stress. It can produce joy, more motivation and energy, increased self-confidence and a better atmosphere at work. Positive feedback can also function as an activator for new behaviour when it is given close to the next opportunity for something to be done (Olofsson (2010)). But rewarding behaviour can also have a negative effect on the employees’ inner motivation since it can be perceived as a form of control. Autonomy is important for employees’ inner motivation. Rewards must therefore reinforce the sense of autonomy.
A positive psychological atmosphere at work should include a chance for employees to have warm and caring relationships with their colleagues. A workplace culture strengthens the feeling of competence, autonomy and community and requires mutual support between management and employees. Appropriate positive feedback can have good effects on inner motivation as it boosts the feeling of being competent. A balance between the employee’s competence, self-knowledge and work demands is important to the employee’s daring to take initiatives and to perform duties with good results. A positive psychological atmosphere of warmth and care provides opportunities for employees to have good relationships with management as well as colleagues because it strengthens the feeling of competence, autonomy and community. Positive feedback can have a good effect on inner motivation because the feeling of being competent increases and the sense of autonomy in turn. To support autonomy, management must show empathy and give employees freedo to choose how to perform a duty. Managers should avoid being too controlling and authoritative in their leadership and instead explain measures taken rationally (Jungert (2015)).
A first step in behaviour analytical organisation development is a clear direction giving priority to development potentials. It is also important that goals and goal fulfilment are concrete. To implement changes a behavioural analysis is needed which describes reinforced and desirable behaviour. This requires a competent and insightful management as well as middle management. All levels of staff need to undergo training before and during the reorganisation. Finally, the reorganisation must be patiently maintained over time to allow management to see any change at work (Olofsson (2010)).
There are leadership styles that affect employees in different ways. Simplified, leadership style can be described through two dimensions, namely focus on result and/or the form influence, for example, creating community, engagement and a positive environment. The inefficient leadership is unclear and creates a negative environment, while the behavioural analytical leadership creates long-term positive results by creating good relationships with the employees, thus conveying a sense of community. The demands of the organisation must be clear and be communicated. Employees should do a good job because they want to and not because they must. In the relationoriented leadership, there is high degree of well-being, but since there is little focus on results, the organisation is at risk. The result-oriented leadership, on the other hand, creates short-term positive results but at the price of timid and disloyal employees. After the short-term improvement in result, the economically positive trend tends to abate. To achieve the desirable behavioural analytical leadership, the direction must be set through a clear vision and strategy. Each employee must be given the chance to develop their competencies and the resources needed to perform their duties. By means of continuous positive feedback discretionary performance will increase. The behavioural analytical leadership must adapt to the situation of the employees by being supportive and coaching. Support of autonomy means that managers should not be too authoritative and controlling leaders but explain measures taken rationally.
In the Tax Agency’s report
Even if the change initiative comes from the General-Directorship, the employees should be participants in the consultation process, which is a requirement for successful organisation changes. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Tax Agency implemented great organisational changes, and the employees felt totally ignored. Employers must ensure that employees are aware of and understand the reason for a reorganisation so that they have the motivation to implement it (Olofsson (2010)).
Good leadership is optimally to use available material and human resources to make employees perform in line with organisational purpose and goals (Rubenowitz (2004)). It is vital to maintain a balance between individual competences, self-knowledge andwork demands if the employee is to dare to take initiatives and perform tasks successfully (Jungert (2015)).
A questionnaire survey conducted by the employee union Jusek and the association of Economics Masters in March 2015 shows that the Tax Agency employees are relatively satisfied but that the working environment is not perceived as transparent and permissive, and that there is a fear of making mistakes. The survey also shows that there is a fear of negative consequences if they should speak their minds (Jusek (2015)). The Tax Agency has yet to gain the full trust of the employees.
This article discusses the conditions of work for Tax Agency employees and their physical and mental health from a behavioural analytical perspective. Important elements in such analysis are group and organisation psychology. The focus is often on the General-Directorship or the taxpayers while the actual situation of the tax officers are sidelined. I wish to draw attention to the tax officers’ situation of working under the pressure of the demands from these two groups.
In the so called
As a government agency under Parliament, the Tax Agency’s mandate is restricted for democratic reasons. In spite of this, I think that an organisational change providing a higher degree of employee participation could influence the operations, without jeopardising the democratic influence on the public law regulated organisation. This means that suggestions for improvements to a greater extent can be made by employees who are close to daily practice. This would greatly effectivise operations and increase the well-being of staff.
It would be cost-efficient and to a great extent desirable to standardise case management at the Tax Agency service offices. Such a measure would speed up the case management process and ensure equity. However, and possibly contradictory, it is fundamentally important that the Tax Agency also treats every taxpayer on the basis of their specific circumstances. In their meetings with the taxpayers, the officers get unique knowledge of taxpayers’ needs. The Tax Agency would do well to collect and put this knowledge to good use. It is impossible to control tax officers through too far-reaching standardisations or ill-considered changes in the pursuit of cost-cutting measures.
IT is a tool that can simplify and speed up the case management process, but standardised IT routines do not take people’s different circumstances into account. IT cannot replace always the personal meeting. I see great problems with the present centralisation and the closing down of tax offices, thus reducing the service to taxpayers in general and those in non-urban areas in particular. The
A key concept for the confidence in the tax system and the tax officers is the so-called
There is a great deal of literature on leadership categories, but they have not been practised to the same degree. Somewhat simplified, we can say that the leadership culture has developed more in academia than in reality. The management
Even if several employee questionnaire surveys have been conducted at the Tax Agency, I argue that there is a need for a more comprehensive and external survey, mapping employees’ experience of cut-down in number of tax offices in recent years and of support from the management as well as