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APS Overall Results 2019 

The 2019 APS employee census results provide useful insights into the culture and capability of the APS. Overall, results are broadly positive and indicate that APS employees are more engaged than before, feel encouraged to come up with new or better ways of doing things and believe strongly in the purpose and objectives of their agency.

In an era of declining public trust and increasingly complex and interconnected issues, operating ethically and with integrity is taking on even greater significance. APS employee perceptions of colleagues, supervisors and senior leaders acting in accordance with the APS Values remain high across the service in 2019.

APS employee perceptions of leadership are also generally more positive this year. APS employees report that their immediate supervisor encourages the contribution of ideas and invites a range of views. An increased proportion of APS employees also agree that their SES manager clearly articulates work direction and priorities and actively supports people of diverse backgrounds.

APS employee views on performance management either remain similar or slightly less positive compared to 2018. Effective performance management is one aspect of a high-performance culture. The Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 2016 were amended in July 2019 to clarify the obligations of agency heads, supervisors and APS employees in this regard.

The 2019 APS employee census results show that APS employee perceptions of risk culture in their agency are broadly more negative relative to previous years. While organisational risk culture is a key factor in promoting innovation, APS employee perceptions of innovation increased across the APS in 2019, particularly in relation to receiving recognition for coming up with new and innovative ways of working.

For further information on the census results and initiatives underway to strengthen the culture and the capability of the APS refer to the 2018-19 State of the Service Report.

Summary of results

High-level comparisons over the past two years show that there has been very little change in demographics. The proportions of employees identifying as Indigenous, LGBTI+, or with an ongoing disability remained similar to 2018.
There was a general overall positive shift in perceptions of leadership. A greater proportion of employees reported that their immediate supervisor encourages the contribution of ideas and invites a range of views. More employees agreed that their SES manager clearly articulates the direction and priorities of the area, effectively leads and manages change, and actively supports people of diverse backgrounds. Finally, a greater proportion of employees agreed that the SES work as a team, are of high quality and actively contribute to the work of an agency.

Employee perceptions of colleagues, supervisors and senior leaders acting in accordance with APS values remains high. Rates of perceived bullying or harassment continue to decrease (decreasing by 14 per cent to 13 per cent in 2019). The percentage of employees perceiving they had witnessed corruption also slightly decreased.

Employee views on workplace conditions remain similar or more positive. However, employee views on mobility within the service have decreased with a lower proportion of employees believing agencies provide opportunities for mobility (47 per cent down from 52 per cent).

Employee views on performance management either remained similar or were more negative than last year. For example, a lower proportion of employees agreed that the performance expectations of their job were clear and unambiguous (61 per cent down from 67 per cent).

Overall, employees were more negative in relation to risk culture than last year, although some of the risk culture items changed this year meaning that comparisons are not possible. For example, a smaller proportion of employees report that appropriate risk taking is rewarded in their agency (25 per cent down from 28 per cent).

Employee perceptions of innovation in the service has seen a positive shift. For example 62 percent (increasing from 57 per cent in 2018), of employees believe that people are recognised for coming up with new and innovative ways of working.

Last reviewed: 
26 November 2019