Australian Public Service Employee Census

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, 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 2021, our response rate was 89%, once again above the APS average which was 77%.   

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:

  • Inclusion—SWA’s performance against all facets of inclusion increased from 2020 and were well above the average for APS and other similar sized agencies. Specifically, 89% of employees stated that they felt SWA supports and actively promotes an inclusive workplace culture. This demonstrates SWA’s strong commitment to being a truly inclusive organisation. 
  • Leadership—The most significant positive percentage increase of 11% was SES Managers promoting cooperation within and between agencies. This is reflective of the collaborative way in which our leadership have approached supporting the community on work health and safety matters arising from COVID-19.
  • SWA continues to perform well in the areas of wellbeing, workplace performance (particularly that of immediate supervisors), and workplace conditions. 

Where we can do better

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

  • Performance and development—while 84% of employees noted that their workgroup’s performance was either very good or excellent, only 26% felt that the current Performance and Development Scheme enabled them to effectively perform their role. 
  • Employee engagement and personal attachment to the Agency—our Engagement Index result increased to 74% which was above the APS index of 73%. However, while the number of employees who believe strongly in the purpose and objectives of the Agency increased to 93%, only 47% indicated that they feel a strong personal attachment to the Agency. Employee engagement was an action area identified from the 2020 Census results, and work has commenced to improve this. However, it is clear that there is still work required in this space.
  • Innovation—innovation is an are for improvement, with only 44% of employees noting that they felt the Agency inspired them to come up with new or better ways of doing things. SWA will be seeking ideas from employees on better and/or new ways of working. 

Our next steps

This report solidified much of what we already know – SWA is an inclusive organisation with a passionate workforce. Our next step will be to finalise the review of the implementation of the Performance and Development scheme with the aim to provide greater clarity around roles and support employee development, thereby building a fully engaged workforce.

More information

Read the Agency highlights report from the Australian Public Service 2021 Employee Census.

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

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