Strengthening internal services to help provide better tax services for Canadians

Last December, the Finance and Administration (FAB) Branch launched the Service Enhancement project in support of the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA’s) service transformation agenda and People First philosophy. The project sets out to engage with FAB employees and internal clients to better understand what FAB does well from a service perspective and identify areas for improvement. Paula, a team member on the project, knows that in order to provide better tax services to Canadians, internal services such as FAB, must embrace the People First philosophy and place their internal clients at the centre of everything they do.  

The service enhancement team, made up of a diverse group of employees, met in person for the first time in February. Unfortunately, however, just as the project was ramping up, the COVID-19 pandemic struck resulting in a temporary halt to the project.

Like in all branches, the initial period meant a regrouping of FAB employees to facilitate the delivery of the emergency COVID-19 benefits and associated supporting activities. Early on, the project team was asked to support the development of FAB’s COVID-19 business resumption plan where Paula would work on something completely outside her purview. Paula’s role in the new initiative was to capture the resumption status of all of FAB’s key services and present it to senior management. With the support of her director and team, she developed a comprehensive template for each functional area to complete, and then summarized the information into a plan. “We had to pivot our activities to meet the new needs of our clients,” says Paula. This meant the service enhancement project took a backseat while the project team shifted their thinking to business resumption activities.

Paula felt very supported through the changing workload and during the first few months of the pandemic as everyone transitioned to working remotely. Led by a director committed to putting people first, the team kept morale up by holding regular teleconference touchpoints and virtual check- ins.

Since formal business resumption planning had never been done at the Agency before, Paula and the team had to learn as they went, by participating in the FAB Strategic Business Resumption working group and sharing best practices with CRA colleagues. “Planning for business resumption was new, and I was hesitant going in,” she said, “but we had exceptionally supportive senior management leaders, which made working on an unfamiliar task less daunting.” She said the process helped her learn to be easier on herself and understand that there is no one right way to do something.

Paula’s favorite part of the new workload was contributing to the business resumption placemat, which was created as an internal communication tool for FAB employees. In it, there is a section highlighting all of the achievements FAB employees accomplished during the first few months of the pandemic, demonstrating that FAB is an organization dedicated to putting people first.

Since the service enhancement project team strives to bring awareness to the role internal services play in the People First philosophy, Paula hopes the people-centric way of working becomes top of mind for all CRA employees. She says “that way, the project team can continue to advance this narrative to better serve our clients within the Agency so, in turn, we can better serve Canadians!”

With business activities and the Service Enhancement Initiative now resumed, Paula and her team have many positive takeaways, accomplishments and fresh perspectives to bring to the project.

“We may have to pivot again in these uncertain times, but this experience proves we can do things we didn’t think we could.” She says being empathetic and remaining supportive toward one another was paramount in meeting the needs of her clients and her team. She acknowledged that opportunities are often hidden in difficult situations, but by approaching each interaction with a little more grace, extraordinary things can come out of challenging times.

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