Making the most of our results
Our Australian Public Service (APS) Employee Census results provide us with an opportunity to identify areas where we are performing well, and where we need to focus our attention for improvement. A response rate of 87% provides a high level of validity to the results - we are excited to see an overall improvement in our departmental results in comparison to 2018.
When reviewing our results and identifying where our focus areas should be, it is important to keep our departmental Vision at the forefront of our solutions: Great Cities. Strong Regions. Connecting Australians; and this is achieved by our people working together collaboratively.
As an organisation, we have been reflecting on what we have done well, so we can continue our trajectory of going from good to great!
Given the broad remit of our work and our diverse range of people and skillsets, some interesting and nuanced results have come from our various divisions, branches and teams. A highlight of where we have done well is with our attitude towards a diverse workforce, which positively links with our vision values of ‘Respectful’, we value our people and ‘First Australians’, we are committed to empowering and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through our work and our actions.
Our good news stories were in the areas of culture, capability, managing change, development and progression, and perceptions of the Senior Leadership cohort. We are proud of our results, particularly in the area of our Senior Leadership cohort. We saw an increase in the perception that this group works well as a team and actively contributes to the work of the department. These are significant improvements from previous years and are well above the APS average.
We believe the strengthening of our Senior Leadership cohort was a result of the investment made by the department in building leadership capability; creating opportunities for collaboration across the full remit of the department’s work. This formed beneficial and professional relationships between peers at the senior level and filtered through all levels of our divisions.
Our results paint a picture of a group of people who had created a positive and productive workplace culture; people who valued their work and were committed to it. Compared to 2018, we are stronger on a range of measures including engagement, wellbeing, workplace relationships, support for diversity and support for capability development. Most respondents described our workforce as having the skills it needs, and indicated that we are using these skills to deliver high quality work. This is an overwhelmingly positive result for us.
Other areas that showed significant growth were our engagement, communication, perceptions of team capability and work quality. It was pleasing to see our engagement index grow, particularly in the areas of relationships, and in the connections that our employees have with the department.
Our focus areas
Whilst we have made positive movements in comparison to last year’s results, our colleagues in other agencies are tracking ahead of us. Some of the areas we need to respond to are around risk and innovation.
We acknowledge the relationship innovation has with risk. We aim to build a culture where risk and innovation are embraced, supported and managed intelligently. We also acknowledge that innovation is an area for improvement across the APS, so we are not alone on this journey.
Our staff have also indicated that there have been barriers in processes and technology, and perhaps there is too much red tape to ‘make things happen’. This could be part of what is blocking our ability to become more dynamic and to innovate. We are working hard to address some of these challenges, with divisions workshopping the results to agree on actions and initiatives to target our areas for improvement.
Our Next Steps
Business areas have participated in workshops to better understand their feedback and come up with innovative ways to solve their own unique challenges and celebrate successes. These workshops provided our staff with the opportunity to reflect on what was important to them, what we were doing well, and where we needed to focus our attention. These discussions led to the development of Action Plans for our business areas that will feed into broader departmental workforce strategies. The department will continue to implement initiatives in response to the results in the lead up to the 2020 APS Employee Census.
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