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APSC News October 2016: fostering a flexible, efficient, high performing APS

New integrity webpage

In doing our work we sometimes encounter circumstances that raise questions regarding the right course of action.   Show more

To help all APS staff faced with these challenges the APSC has launched a new Integrity website. This site offers users the ability to submit online questions about the APS Values and Code of Conduct, with the answers published for the benefit of all users.

The Integrity website also gives users access to:

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APS reformers at work

The APS Reform group is always busy finding ways to make the APS a better place to work: things like Ripple and #GradHack and Unlocking Potential. We’ve now set up a dedicated space on the APSC’s website so that you can keep up to date on all of the things we’re up to—and there’s more to come!   Show more

If you’re interested in how to get better at your job, what innovation means, what the future of work may look like, and how to become more engaged, find us here. Plus we’re always contactable by email at employmentreform [at] apsc.gov.au. Check out our new pages and let us know what you think.



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Workforce flexibility is ultimately about productivity

An ‘if not, why not?’ approach to flexible work arrangements will soon be rolled out in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The department is committed to a performance-based culture where flexibility is encouraged for women and men, with and without caring responsibilities. Mainstreaming flexible work practices will help achieve a more modern, agile workplace and one which enhances productivity, job satisfaction and performance.   Show more

The roll out follows a successful trial of the approach involving one quarter of Canberra-based staff. Over the trial period, staff satisfaction with their ability to access and use flexible work arrangements rose from 56% to 72%. Flexible workers - men and women - reported feeling more satisfied, motivated, valued and productive at work than non-flexible workers.

DFAT’s new principles-based flexible and remote work policies balance operational needs and individual flexibility. Managers are encouraged to adopt a team approach, leading ongoing team discussions about incorporating flexibility without sacrificing performance. Reciprocity, trust and communication are emphasised as key to successful flexible work arrangements.

DFAT will monitor the impact of the new policies, including through a flexible work staff survey. Of particular interest is the impact of flexible work on career progression and the take-up of flexible work arrangements by men. Workshops for managers on leading flexible and high performing teams will support implementation.

This approach to flexible work is one action outlined in DFAT’s Women in Leadership strategy, which aims to maximise performance and capability by enabling all women and men to thrive equally.   Hide content


2015-16 Australian Public Service Statistical Bulletin

Did you know:

  • the representation of women in the APS continues to grow, as does the proportion of women in the Senior Executive Service (SES) ranks? In June 2016, women represented 42.5% of SES employees, an increase from 28.3% in June 2002
  • at June 2016, the representation of Indigenous employees was 2.9%; the highest representation since 2002.

The annual APS Statistical Bulletin offers this data and more.


Absence management initiative

Unscheduled absence rates are shrinking at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, thanks to their Employee Safeguard Plan.   Show more

Communicating clear expectations regarding attendance and spending time with employees who take frequent, unexplained absences are key elements of this proactive initiative.

The results speak for themselves, with a drop in unscheduled absence rates from 13.5 days to 11.1 days in a two-year period. The success of return to work support for employees, has also led to significantly lower workers compensation premiums.

The Employee Safeguard Plan takes a multipronged approach. It incorporates strategic HR initiatives aimed at improving psychological safety for all employees, more workplace support options and improved manager capability.

The department has also strengthened support for employees managing long term critical illness, mental health and temporary illness. The support includes:

  • a new Health Safeguard program, bringing together initiatives such as psychosocial assessments, diversity initiatives, wellbeing programs and a mental health toolkit
  • a back to work interview pilot program
  • offering teleworking to help support employees managing mental health, short term caring responsibilities and temporary non-critical illness.

Managers are supported through a variety of channels in the lead up to, and during conversations with, high users of unscheduled absences. A high user is an employee with 15 days of unscheduled absence over a 12 month period and/or nine days of leave without medical evidence

Support options include:

  • HR case manager support
  • Regular and informal information sessions, focussing on case studies, real life scenarios, building rapport, early intervention strategies and ongoing communication
  • requesting medical evidence for every absence from high users.

If you would like more information on the Employee Safeguard Plan, please contact the Department’s peoplestrategy [at] industry.gov.au (People Strategy team).

This case study and others will be available on the APSC website shortly.   Hide content


Core Cultural Learning online training

The new Core Cultural Learning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia online course is now available for agencies subscribing to the Shared Services Centre’s (SSC) LearnHub.   Show more

Core has been purpose built by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, in partnership with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Social Services. It provides an authoritative introductory platform for cultural capability training across the Commonwealth.

Ten interactive modules provide greater context to our work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and equips each of us to play a greater role in the reconciliation effort.

Further information about Core is currently being distributed through HR networks. In the meantime you can preview the course here. Non-subscribers are encouraged to register interest by emailing: core [at] aiatsis.gov.au.   Hide content


Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 2016

The Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 2016 have been released. The new Directions include changes that:

  • streamline the engagement of non-ongoing employees
  • broaden our Indigenous and disability affirmative measures
  • gives Agency Heads greater discretion to determine their agency’s performance management framework.

The new rules continue our work to modernise and streamline the APS employment framework and give agency heads greater flexibility in managing their workforce.


Jawun APS Secondment Programme – five years on

October marks five years since the APS began its partnership with Jawun, with almost 300 employees completing secondments with Indigenous organisations. Jawun alumni and agency coordinators are invited to celebrate this milestone on Thursday 13 October 2016 from 2.30 pm at the APSC’s Canberra office. RSVP to the Programme Manager at Jawun [at] apsc.gov.au.   Show more

Interest in 2017 secondments is currently being sought from Secretaries and Agency Heads. We anticipate strong participation again this year and ask agencies to begin the nomination and selection process early.  In addition to Executive Level secondees, we are keen to identify SES secondees to support the Empowered Communities agenda through longer term secondments.

Agency expressions of interest are requested by 7 October 2016.

Further information about the programme is available on the APSC website or from the Programme Manager, Naomi Jeacle, on 02 6202 3589.   Hide content