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2012 Indigenous census: Theme 2 - Human capital management

Representation and disclosure

All human capital management practices and strategies are based on the contribution employees make to organisational capacity and capability which in turn leads to organisational productivity. For this reason, understanding the nature of the workforce is vital. For the APS, however, there is an added requirement that the workforce should reflect that of the Australian community. To achieve this, under the auspices of COAG, all Australian governments have committed to the Indigenous reform agenda known as “Closing the Gap”, to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians. As part of that reform agenda, in 2008 the Federal government along with all state and territory governments (except Tasmania) committed to increase Indigenous representation in the public sector to 2.6% by 2015, to reflect the projected Indigenous share of the working age population. The federal government increased the target to 2.7% for the Commonwealth public sector, including the APS11. Progress towards the 2.7% target will be measured using APSED12.

As of 30 June 2012, 3749 APS employees were identified in APSED as Indigenous. Table 2.1 shows representation rates for the APS workforce by state or territory. This equates to 2.2% of the total APS workforce, which is still somewhat below the target of 2.7%. It is also a slight drop from the previous year’s figure of 3808 individuals (2.3%). These figures must be taken with some caution, however, because 24% of APS employees have no information available regarding their Indigenous status. APSED may therefore underestimate representation rates because employees choose not to identify as Indigenous.

Table 2.1: Representation of Indigenous employees in the APS (Source: APSED)
  Representation Rate (% of total APS workforce identified in APSED as Indigenous) Numbers % of total APS workforce identified in APSED as non-Indigenous % of total APS workforce in APSED with no data
ACT 1.6% 1077 76.7% 21.7%
NSW 1.8% 571 71.6% 26.5%
NT 20.3% 547 58.1% 21.6%
QLD 4.7% 848 72.5% 22.8%
SA 1.6% 157 70.7% 27.7%
TAS 2.5% 101 75.5% 22.0%
VIC 0.8% 219 71.0% 28.2%
WA 2.7% 210 72.3% 25.0%
Outside Australia 1.4% 19 89.9% 8.7%
Total 2.2% 3749 73.6% 24.1%

As Table 2.1 shows, capturing the data required to measure progress towards the target of 2.7% representation has proved challenging. Since 2010, the employee census has asked respondents who identify as being Indigenous whether they are recorded as such in their agency’s HR system. In 2012, only three out of four Indigenous employees (77%) reported disclosing this information to their agency. These results are relatively consistent with previous years (75% in 2011 and 78% in 2010). Since it is this information which is included in APSED, these figures may underestimate the representation rate by nearly 25%. A further key point is that this suggests that a significant proportion of APS employees—for whom no data is available—is made up of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees.

When representation rates are estimated from employee census data and compared with APSED figures, there are only minor differences (see Table 2.2).

Table 2.2: Representation rates of Indigenous employees from APSED and the 2012 employee census

 

2010 2011 2012
Employee Census 2.9% 3.0% 2.5%
APSED 2.4% 2.3% 2.2%

Based on the agency survey, agencies are also working to improve data capture for all diversity issues including Indigenous status. As Table 2.3 shows, this includes 13 agencies which made changes to their HR system to assist in recording this information. The majority of agencies took action to encourage their employees to ensure that their details were recorded correctly, either directly or by encouraging managers to deliver the message. If effective, these measures will allow the APS and individual agencies to more accurately measure their progress towards the COAG target.

Table 2.3: Action taken by agencies to improve disclosure of Indigenous status
  Number of agencies Per cent of agencies
Modified the agency’s human resource system 13 12.9%
Directly encouraged employees to update their diversity status on the agency’s human resource system 50 49.5%
Enlisted managers to encourage employees to update their diversity status on the agency’s human resource system 12 11.9%
Promoted the value of employee disclosure of diversity status 35 34.7%
Clarified definitions of diversity to employees 25 24.8%
Improved documentation/application forms 4 4.0%
Provided information from APSC Focus on Diversity publications 2 2.0%

In short, the available data provides two marginally different estimates of Indigenous representation in the APS. While APSED has the advantage of coverage, it has a high proportion of individuals for whom no information is available. Conversely, while the census provides information on only those who choose to fill it out, employees may be more forthcoming in the anonymous survey. Both sources have advantages and drawbacks which mean they are perhaps best regarded as estimates, rather than exact reflections of the APS workforce. However, since progress towards the 2.7% target still needs to be measured due to its coverage in terms of raw numbers, APSED should be the preferred estimate.

Demographics

This section will concentrate on those employees who are identified in APSED as either Indigenous or non-Indigenous. Excluding employees for whom no information is available is likely to generate clearer results. The alternative is to assume that all employees with no information recorded are non-Indigenous. However, employee census results have consistently contradicted this assumption. Having Indigenous employees in the non-Indigenous employee group will undermine any comparison made.

Personal characteristics

The majority of Indigenous employees are female, which is consistent with the non-Indigenous workforce. However, this is more pronounced in the non-ACT Indigenous workforce than the other two groups.

Figure 2.1: Sex of Indigenous and non-Indigenous workforces (Source: APSED)

Table 2.4 shows the age profile for the Indigenous and non-Indigenous workforces. Indigenous employees were more likely to be aged under 25 years, regardless of their location. However, Indigenous employees in the ACT tended to be younger than their non-ACT colleagues. The differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups are probably partly due to differences in the general population. The 2011 ABS census found the median age for Indigenous Australians was 21 years, compared to 37 for non-Indigenous Australians13.

It is unclear whether the differences between ACT and non-ACT employees are due solely to population factors, or whether the use of graduate programs and traineeships to attract Indigenous employees which target people early in their working lives has had an influence.

Table 2.4: Age profiles of employees (Source: APSED)
  ACT Indigenous Non-ACT Indigenous Non-Indigenous
Under 20 years 1.4% 1.1% 0.1%
20—24 years 12.4% 7.9% 3.1%
25—29 years 17.5% 10.5% 10.8%
30—34 years 12.8% 13.4% 12.8%
35—39 years 13.9% 17.0% 13.2%
40—44 years 15.4% 16.7% 14.1%
45—49 years 11.7% 13.8% 15.0%
50—54 years 8.8% 10.2% 15.5%
55—59 years 3.9% 6.2% 9.5%
60 years or older 2.2% 3.1% 5.8%

The proportion of employees who have identified as having a disability in their agency’s HR information system is similar between Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees. However, non-ACT Indigenous employees are less likely to have data recorded. This suggests that this segment of the workforce is more likely to underestimate the representation of people with disability.

Table 2.5: Disability in the Indigenous and non-Indigenous workforces (Source: APSED)
  ACT Indigenous Non-ACT Indigenous Non-Indigenous
People with disability 5.5% 4.4% 3.4%
People without disability 80.8% 68.5% 82.9%
No data 13.7% 27.1% 13.7%

Thirty-one per cent of non-Indigenous employees reported having carer responsibilities which is comparable with ACT-based (31%) and non-ACT based Indigenous employees (37%). As Table 2.6 shows, the main carer responsibility for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees was for one or more children aged between five and 16 years. ACT-based Indigenous employees showed some small differences from their non-ACT colleagues, however. They were less likely to be caring for parents than the non-Indigenous workforce. The non-ACT Indigenous workforce fell between the two extremes. Indigenous employees in the ACT were also less likely to be caring for parents than the non-ACT Indigenous workforce. These differences are consistent with the younger age profile of this workforce.

Table 2.6: Carer responsibilities (Source: Employee Census)
  ACT Indigenous Non-ACT Indigenous Non-Indigenous
*Indicates a statistically significant difference which is at least small in magnitude.
Child(ren) - under 5 years 29% 28% 29%
Child(ren) - 5 to 16 years 60% 57% 53%
Child(ren) - over 16 years 19% 19% 19%
Parent(s)* 14% 19% 22%
Other relative(s) (not including parents or children) 9% 6% 4%
Partner* 6% 15% 11%
Other 4% 4% 2%

Employment characteristics

As Table 2.7 shows, Indigenous employees are more likely to have been employed in the APS for less than one year. Conversely, a lower proportion of Indigenous employees has been employed for more than 20 years. Otherwise, differences are slight. This pattern is consistent for both Indigenous groups. These results are consistent with the Indigenous workforces being slightly younger.

Table 2.7: Length of service for APS employees (Source: APSED)
  ACT-based Indigenous Non-ACT Indigenous Non-Indigenous
Under 1 year 7.8% 6.0% 3.5%
1 to less than 2 years 6.4% 4.7% 5.1%
2 to less than 3 years 8.3% 7.6% 4.8%
3 to less than 5 years 14.2% 11.8% 12.3%
5 to less than years 26.0% 25.1% 26.4%
10 to less than years 15.5% 17.5% 14.9%
15 to less than 20 years 11.4% 12.7% 9.2%
20 years or more 10.5% 14.5% 23.9%

As Figure 2.2 shows, over the past 10 years, the proportion of long-serving non-Indigenous employees has remained stable at approximately 23%, while the proportion of Indigenous employees with a similar length of service has continually increased. It has more than tripled in the non-ACT Indigenous workforce and in the ACT it has nearly doubled. This suggests that the APS is improving its ability to retain Indigenous employees over the long term.

Figure 2.2: Percentage of employees who have been employed in the APS for more than 20 years (Source: APSED)

As Table 2.8 shows, marginally lower percentages of Indigenous employees were ongoing than in the non-Indigenous workforce. The non-ACT Indigenous workforce is again, slightly lower than their ACT-based colleagues.

Table 2.8: Percentage of ongoing workforce (Source: APSED)
  ACT-based Indigenous Non-ACT Indigenous Non-Indigenous
Per cent of ongoing workforce 88.6% 85.1% 91.8%

Classification profiles for Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees are shown in Table 2.9. Approximately two-thirds of non-ACT Indigenous employees are employed at the APS 4 classification or lower. This is considerably more than both of the other workforces. However, particularly at the APS 5 classification and higher, the classification profiles for ACT-based Indigenous and non-Indigenous workforces are quite similar. This is despite the difference in age profiles between these groups.

Table 2.9: Classification profiles of Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees (Source: APSED)
  ACT-based Indigenous Non-ACT Indigenous Non-Indigenous
Trainee/Graduate 5.5% 3.0% 0.9%
APS 1–2 6.7% 11.9% 2.4%
APS 3–4 22.1% 51.9% 30.5%
APS 5–6 37.6% 25.7% 34.6%
EL 26.7% 7.3% 29.4%
SES 1.4% 0.2% 2.2%

As Table 2.10 shows, nearly one in three APS and Executive Level (EL) Indigenous employees in the non-ACT workforce works in a service delivery role. This is considerably higher than their ACT-based colleagues. Conversely, ACT-based Indigenous employees are more likely to work in strategic policy and people functions. These differences are likely to reflect the nature of the APS, however, rather than differences between employees. Agencies with large service delivery functions, such as the Department of Human Services, have employees located in offices across the country. This leads to large numbers of employees at lower classification levels being employed outside of the ACT to undertake service delivery roles. Policy and strategic functions are easier to centralise and arguably benefit from having teams and branches co-located.

Table 2.10: Job families of APS and EL employees (Source: Employee Census)
  ACT Indigenous Non-ACT Indigenous Non-Indigenous
* indicates job families have been collapsed to prevent the reporting of small cell-sizes
Accounting and finance 9% 4% 6%
Administration 20% 15% 12%
Communications and marketing 3% 1% 3%
Compliance and regulation 3% 10% 12%
Information and knowledge management 3% 1% 2%
Intelligence 2% 1% 3%
People 13% 5% 6%
Science and health 2% 2% 3%
Service delivery 3% 30% 14%
Strategic policy, research, project and program 20% 5% 11%
Engineering and technical, and ICT* 11% 4% 13%
Misc (incl. legal and parliamentary; monitoring and audit; organisational leadership; and trades and labour)* 5% 5% 8%
Other 7% 15% 8%

Key findings

  • Indigenous employees tend to be younger than their non-Indigenous colleagues. ACT-based Indigenous employees tend to be younger again than non-ACT based Indigenous employees.
  • In keeping with their age, Indigenous employees tend to have spent less time in the APS. However, the proportion of Indigenous employees with more than 20 years’ service in the APS has been steadily increasing over the past decade.

Health and wellbeing

The obligations of employers regarding the health and welfare of their employees are regulated by federal work health and safety legislation. The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 emphasises these obligations, particularly in regard to stress and mental health.

The employee census assessed health and wellbeing in four ways:

  • using the UK Civil Service Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Tool
  • the percentage of employees who had taken sick leave or compensation leave14 in the two weeks prior to completing the survey
  • the numbers of hours worked in the previous 14 days
  • employees’ satisfaction with work-life balance.

The HSE is an internationally validated15 instrument designed to help organisations manage potential sources of work-related stress. It measures seven sources of potential stress in the workplace:

  • control (how much autonomy the person has in the way they do their work)
  • manager support (including the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by managers)
  • peer support (including the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by colleagues)
  • clarity (whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that the person does not have conflicting roles)
  • change (how organisational change, large or small, is managed and communicated in the organisation)
  • relationships at work (including promoting positive working practices to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour)
  • demands (including such issues as workload, work patterns and the working environment)

Figure 2.3 compares HSE scores between the three groups. Higher scores indicate a healthier workplace. Scores were comparable between the three workforces on all factors. This suggests there are no major differences in the levels of strain experienced by Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees.

Figure 2.3: HSE scores

Figure 2.4 shows the percentage of employees who have taken sick or compensation leave in the 14 days before completing the employee census. Indigenous employees in the ACT were more likely to have taken leave in the previous fortnight than non-Indigenous employees. Non-ACT Indigenous employees fell between the two, and were comparable to both.

Figure 2.4: Absence due to illness or injury

*Indicates a statistically significant difference which is at least small in magnitude.

The employee census asked full-time employees to report the number of hours they worked in the fortnight before filling out the census. Initial results suggest that non-ACT Indigenous employees had worked fewer hours in the last fortnight than their ACT employees or non-Indigenous colleagues. However, some of this is almost certainly due to the differences in classification profiles between the three segments of the workforce (see Table 2.9). SOSR 2011–1216 found that EL and SES employees tend to work more hours per fortnight than APS 1–6 employees. When comparisons are made by classification, the number of hours worked for APS 1–6 employees (see Figure 2.5) or EL and SES employees (see Figure 2.6) are comparable.

Figure 2.5: Number of hours worked in the previous fortnight by APS 1—6 employees

Figure 2.6: Number of hours worked in the previous fortnight by EL/SES employees

When asked about their satisfaction with work-life balance, employees from all three segments of the workforce were once again similar, as Figure 2.7 shows. The majority of employees were satisfied with their ability to access flexible working arrangements and the support their agency provided for achieving a good work-life balance.

Figure 2.7: Satisfaction with work-life balance

Key findings

  • Health and wellbeing scores are comparable between the three workforces.
  • There are no salient differences in the number of hours worked between Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees.
  • The majority of employees are satisfied with their work-life balance and access to flexible working arrangements.

Learning and development

Learning and development is a key way of improving the capability of employees which in turn combine to improve the ability of agencies and the APS as a whole to meet challenges and deliver outcomes. Approximately half of ACT and non-ACT Indigenous employees were satisfied with their access to learning and development opportunities (see Figure 2.8). Both are comparable to non-Indigenous employees. These results are consistent with findings from the 2009 Indigenous employees’ census. Higher proportions of Indigenous employees were satisfied with their access to secondments, both inside and outside the APS.

Figure 2.8: Satisfaction with access to learning and development opportunities

*Indicates a statistically significant difference which is at least small in magnitude.

Of those employees who were dissatisfied with their access to learning and development, the majority reported that budget was a barrier (see Figure 2.9). However, non-ACT Indigenous employees were less likely to report this than both other groups. Conversely, they were more likely to cite that travel costs were a barrier. A lack of time due to work pressure was seen as another key barrier.

Figure 2.9: Reasons for dissatisfaction with access to learning and development

*Indicates a statistically significant difference which is at least small in magnitude.

Despite the difficulties reported by some employees, over half had spent at least three days in training over the last 12 months (see Figure 2.10). The three workforce segments were all comparable in the amount of time they had spent in training. Results for Indigenous employees were also comparable to results from the 2009 census.

Figure 2.10: Time provided for formal training

The majority of employees were satisfied with the quality of learning through peers, on the job and through formal training. Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees were comparable on these factors. Satisfaction with coaching and e-learning was somewhat lower, with satisfaction dropping below 50% for most employees.

Figure 2.11: Satisfaction with the quality of learning and development

Key findings

  • Over 50% of Indigenous employees were satisfied with their overall access to learning and development opportunities.
  • There were no differences in access to training between the three workforces. Over half of employees had spent three days or more in formal training in the previous 12 months.
  • Indigenous employees were more likely to be satisfied with their access to secondments than non-Indigenous employees. However, only about one in four were satisfied.

Performance management

The APS Reform Blueprint recommended that the APS strengthen its performance management framework as a central component of fostering a high performance culture. The APSC, in collaboration with agencies, has worked to better understand what constitutes good performance in the APS and develop a more comprehensive performance management framework. However, not all employees have management responsibilities. Figure 2.12 shows the proportion of employees who have performance management responsibilities. While the differences in classification profiles between the three workforces affect this, once this has been accounted for there are no salient differences in performance management responsibilities.

Figure 2.12: Percentages of employees by classification level with performance management responsibilities

As Figure 2.13 shows, the majority of Indigenous supervisors are confident in their abilities to manage their staff. Less than one third indicated that they did not have sufficient time to manage the performance of their employees. However, ACT-based Indigenous supervisors were less likely to agree they were provided with adequate resources to undertake their performance management role. The reason for this is unclear, but despite this, the majority of responses were still positive.

Figure 2.13: Confidence in performance management skills and abilities

*Indicates a statistically significant difference which is at least small in magnitude.

The majority of Indigenous employees indicated that they had received formal performance feedback in the previous 12 months. As Table 2.11 shows, all three segments of the APS workforce were comparable. The proportions of employees who were satisfied or dissatisfied with the feedback they had received were also comparable.

Table 2.11: Formal performance feedback delivered to employees in the previous 12 months
  ACT Indigenous Non-ACT Indigenous Non-Indigenous
% of workforce who had received formal feedback 78% 72% 80%
% of employees who were satisfied with the feedback they received 78% 72% 80%
% of employees who were dissatisfied with the feedback they received 16% 14% 16%

When employees were asked why they were dissatisfied, there was more variation between the segments (see Figure 2.14). ACT-based Indigenous employees were more likely to report that their supervisor did not recognise their actual performance, that they needed to draw on additional information and that their supervisor did not take the process seriously. Conversely, they were less likely than their non-Indigenous colleagues to feel that performance feedback did not identify ways to improve their performance. Non-ACT Indigenous employees fell between the two, and were comparable to both.

Figure 2.14: Reasons for dissatisfaction with formal performance feedback

*Indicates a statistically significant difference which is at least small in magnitude.

Key findings

Once differences in classification profiles have been accounted for, there are no differences in the proportion of employees with performance management responsibilities.

  • The majority of Indigenous supervisors have confidence in their ability to carry out their performance management responsibilities.
  • Approximately three-quarters of employees had received formal performance feedback in the previous 12 months. Fewer than one in six felt that it failed to help them improve their performance.
  • Where ACT-based Indigenous employees took issue with their feedback, they felt it was inaccurate and taken too lightly by their supervisor. The most commonly cited problem by other employees was that it did not clearly identify ways of improving performance.

Recruitment and retention

A vital concern to all organisations is the attraction, recruitment and retention of talented people. However, rather than seeing these issues from an agency perspective, practitioners and academics have found value in looking at them from the individual’s point of view by examining what they hope to gain from their employment. Tapping into this research, the APSC has created the APS Employment Value Proposition (EVP) model. The EVP is defined as the set of attributes that employees perceive as the value they gain through employment in the APS17. In short the EVP speaks to the factors which:

  • initially attract the employee (Get factors);
  • keep the employee working in their position (Hold factors); and
  • the internal factors which encourage them to leave (Push factors).

Based on internal and external research18, five elements underlie the get, hold and pull factors. These are:

  • Conditions including job security and remuneration
  • Opportunities for Career development and building skills
  • The desire to provide Public Service or otherwise support for the Agency’s aims and reputation.
  • Work factors, such as the type of work and the degree to which the skills required match the individuals skills
  • People and working relationships

Get factors

Get factors are those issues which initially attract the employee and lead them to apply for their current position. Individuals may value certain issues differently, making the groups to which they belong distinctive. When employees are compared, the opportunity to provide public service is more important in attracting Indigenous employees (see Figure 2.15). Providing service to the community was of even greater importance to non-ACT Indigenous employees than those based in Canberra. There were no differences between groups on other Get factors.

Figure 2.15: EVP get factors

*Indicates a statistically significant difference which is at least small in magnitude.

Hold factors

Hold factors are those which keep the employee attached and engaged with their current work, persuading them to remain. There were no salient differences in how Hold factors19 affected employees.

Figure 2.16: EVP hold factors

Push factors

Push factors are those aspects of the employee’s current position which contribute to their decision to leave their current agency. For all employees, a lack of career opportunities was the most frequently reported reason for intending to leave their agency. However, a lower proportion of ACT-based Indigenous employees reported this. Conversely, a higher proportion reported poor supervision as a factor encouraging them to leave. This is consistent with earlier results regarding the performance feedback delivered by supervisors. Aside from this, results were comparable across the three segments of the APS workforce.

Figure 2.17: EVP push factors

*Indicates a statistically significant difference which is at least small in magnitude.

Career intentions

Previous State of the Service Reports have found few differences in career intentions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees20. However, when the Indigenous workforce is divided into ACT and non-ACT groups, differences begin to emerge (see Figure 2.18). For all groups, similar proportions of employees intend to leave their agency either as soon as possible or within the next 12 months. However, ACT-based Indigenous employees are less likely than their non-ACT colleagues to intend to remain for at least the next three years. Non-Indigenous employees fall between the two and are comparable to both. As the employee census is an anonymous survey, it is not possible to link the career intentions reported by employees to their eventual exit from their agency or their separation from the APS. Furthermore, intentions may change in response to a range of factors, some of which are outside the employee’s control. As such, these results should be interpreted with some caution.

Figure 2.18: Employee career intentions

While ACT-based Indigenous employees are less likely to intend to stay in their agency for the long-term, 68% intend to remain in the public sector after they leave their current agency (see Figure 2.19). This is a higher proportion than the other two segments. Conversely, they are less likely to intend to move to the private sector or retire. However, while these employees may intend to leave their agency, their skills, experience and knowledge will be retained in the APS or another public sector body.

Figure 2.19: Employee career intentions

*Indicates a statistically significant difference which is at least small in magnitude.

Separation

Figure 2.20 shows separation rates21 for Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees. Indigenous employees, regardless of their location, leave the APS at a much higher rate than non-Indigenous employees. Separation rates for Indigenous employees are also more variable year-on-year. Figure 2.20 suggests that while separation rates have continued to increase for ACT-based Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees, they have peaked and declined for non-ACT Indigenous employees. However, this may be influenced by location. When the non-Indigenous group is broken down into ACT and non-ACT groups similar to Indigenous employees, a very slight decrease in separation rate is apparent for both non-ACT groups (see Table 2.12).

Figure 2.20: Separation rates for APS employees

Table 2.12: Separation for Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees over the last three years
  2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
ACT Indigenous 8.0% 9.2% 11.9%
ACT non-Indigenous 6.3% 6.6% 7.6%
Non-ACT Indigenous 12.6% 14.1% 13.7%
Non-ACT non-Indigenous 6.6% 6.9% 5.9%

When the types of separations are considered, different patterns emerge between the workforces. As Figure 2.21 shows, for ACT-based Indigenous employees retrenchment has been a growing source of turnover over the last three years with a concomitant decrease in resignations. This pattern is not seen in the non-Indigenous workforce based in Canberra, however (see Figure 2.22). While a sharp increase in retrenchment is visible in 2010–11, this does not appear to be part of a trend over the three years. A further point of difference is that the non-Indigenous workforce is more affected by age retirements. This has implications for workforce planning and is consistent with the older age profile of the non-Indigenous workforce.

Figure 2.21: Types of separations for ACT based Indigenous employees

Figure 2.22: Types of separations for ACT based non-Indigenous employees

Similar patterns appear in the non-ACT Indigenous segment, although they are less pronounced (see Figure 2.23). The number of resignations for Indigenous employees has declined somewhat with a corresponding increase in retrenchments. As Figure 2.24 shows, their non-Indigenous colleagues, however, do not show this pattern, instead showing smaller, year to year fluctuations.

Figure 2.23: Types of separations for non-ACT Indigenous employees

Figure 2.24: Types of separations for non-ACT non-Indigenous employees

These different patterns in separations are likely to be influenced by a combination of factors, rather than a single cause. Firstly, the local labour market is likely to have some influence. Fewer opportunities outside the APS are likely to lead to fewer employees leaving at their own discretion. Secondly, as retrenchments are offered at the organisation’s discretion rather than the individual’s, the changing balance between resignations and retrenchments most likely reflects organisational factors. Thirdly, there are demographic differences, mainly in age, between the different segments of the workforce which may influence turnover intentions. Fourthly, individual attitudes, goals and preferences will have an effect. Individual decisions to leave the APS will be due to a combination of all four factors, which clouds any attempt to find a simple explanation for differences in separation rates.

It is critical to realise that most if not all of these factors will vary over time. While there is a consistent difference in separation rates between Indigenous employees and their non-Indigenous colleagues, the factors primarily responsible for separation are more complex. For this reason, it is important not to take a simplistic view of the issue. Rather, the scope of enquiry needs to be expanded beyond employee attitudes and include the context in which the individual operates.

Key findings

  • The opportunity to be of service to the community is a more important attractor for Indigenous employees. This is even more important for the non-ACT Indigenous workforce.
  • A lack of career opportunities in the employee’s current agency was the most frequently reported factor encouraging employees to leave their current position. This was less important for ACT-based Indigenous employees, who tended to report poor leadership as a factor.
  • Approximately one in four Indigenous employees intend to leave their agency either as soon as possible or in the next 12 months, which is comparable with the non-Indigenous workforce. However, ACT-based Indigenous employees are less likely to intend to stay for at least three years.
  • Over the last three years, the proportion of separations made up by retrenchments has been increasing for the Indigenous workforces. A similar pattern is not clearly visible for their non-Indigenous colleagues.
  • Indigenous employees have had consistently higher separation rates between 2002 and 2012, and this is consistent between both ACT and non-ACT employees. The reason for this remains unclear. However, this report focusses on employee attitudes and experiences. The higher separation rates are likely to be caused by a combination of factors including those external to the individual, such as the local labour market and organisation requirements.

11 Unavailable

12 As APSED covers the entire APS population, statistical significance testing is unnecessary and therefore has not been performed.

13 Unavailable

14 Compensation leave relates to a work-related injury or disease which has been accepted by Comcare. This is different from the unscheduled absence figures reports in the SOSR 2011–12. Unscheduled absence includes leave types which are not related to the respondent’s health, such as carer’s leave and other miscellaneous types of leave.

15 Health and Safety Executive, Work Related Stress—Research and Statistics; R. Kerr, M. McHugh and M. McCrory, HSE Management Standards and Stress-related Work Outcomes, Occupational Medicine, Vol. 59, No. 8, 2009, pp. 574–579.

16 APSC, State of the Service Report 2011–12, p. 202.

17 APSC Research Note 153—12, 2012, A prototype employment value proposition for the APS, APSC: Canberra.

18 Corporate Leadership Council, 2006, The Employment Value Proposition – A key to attraction and commitment.

19 In the APS EVP model, the Hold factors include the engagement scores reported in Figure 1.2.

20 The question asking about employee’s career intentions in the 2012 employee census was different from that used in previous employee surveys of Indigenous censuses. Longitudinal comparisons are therefore not possible.

21 Separation rate is calculated as the number of ongoing separations from the APS over a financial year, divided by the average number of ongoing employees over that period.