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The annual Australian Public Service (APS) employee census collects confidential information on the attitudes and opinions of APS employees on a range of issues including health and wellbeing, attendance, performance management, leadership and general impressions of the APS. It is an opportunity for employees to tell the Australian Public Service Commissioner what they think about working in the APS.

The APS employee census also provides Safe Work Australia (the Agency) with information and feedback from our employees on what is working well and what we can do better. In 2020, we maintained our high level of engagement with 93% of employees completing the survey.  

Highlights report

The Agency highlights report  contains a summary of our census results on key questions as well as providing a comparison to similar agencies and our past results. The highlights report includes aggregated agency data. All employee census reporting is subject to strict privacy rules, meaning that results are not produced unless there is a minimum of 10 staff responses.

Where we performed well

Overall, the responses from our employees were positive and, in many cases, we performed stronger than the APS overall, other policy agencies and similar sized agencies. Areas where we performed well included:

  • Health and Wellbeing—our wellbeing index, which provides a measure of wellbeing for our employees, was 78%. This score was the 16th highest in the APS. A strongly performing wellbeing index demonstrates that we provide a healthy working environment.
  • Workplace conditions—the majority of our employees agree that their workplace conditions are favourable, with responses being up to 32% more positive than other APS agencies.
  • Team Performance—our responses show that our employees feel very positive about their team’s performance, including their willingness to cooperate, ability to readily adapt to new priorities, and having the appropriate skills, knowledge, tools and resources to perform their role effectively. 

Where we improved the most

Our results also identified areas where we had the biggest improvements from the 2019 APS employee census. These improvements demonstrate that the work we have done over the past year has been recognised by our employees and we are heading in the right direction. These areas are:

  • Workplace culture—we saw a 9% increase in response to employees understanding how their role contributes to achieving an outcome for the Australian public, with a total positive response rate of 94%. This increase may also be reflective of staff seeing how their work contributed to providing advice to Australians around the COVID 19 pandemic.
  • Inclusion and Wellbeing—we saw significant positive increases compared to our 2019 results and the APS overall in questions relating to employees having a choice in how work is done, receiving respect from colleagues and having clarity on their duties and responsibilities. We also maintained our strong positive result of 84% of employees believing the Agency supports and actively promotes an inclusive workplace culture.

Where we can do better

While the majority of responses were positive, there are areas where we can do better.

  • Internal communication—most employees agree that internal communication within the Agency is regular (88%) and keeps them informed (78%), however, only 62% agree that internal communication within the Agency is effective. Internal communication was one of our action areas identified from our 2019 Census results, and the Agency took a number of steps to improve its internal communication, however, our 2020 results show that we still have more work to do. 
  • Employee engagement and personal attachment to the Agency—our Engagement Index result was the same as the APS overall at 73%, however, we ranked 69th out of 97 APS Agencies in this measure. While 86% of employees believe strongly in the purpose and objectives of the Agency, only 48% indicated that they feel a strong personal attachment to the Agency. 

Our next steps

Over the next couple of months, we will be engaging with our employees to workshop and implement some changes to the way we work and communicate based on these action areas to make the Agency an even better place to work. 

More information

For more detail about interpreting census results, visit the Australian Public Service Commission’s website.

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