Approaching temporary moves with a collaborative One APS mindset
When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Australia in early 2020, and much of the economy was forced to shut down, unprecedented numbers of Australians turned to the Government for support.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) was one of the many APS agencies that responded by re-deploying staff to Services Australia in April 2020, as part of an APS-wide effort to support millions who found themselves out of work or facing hardship.
Around 2,100 staff were mobilised from across the public service to process claims and make customer calls. Staff from junior and senior roles across the BoM, accustomed to delivering a specialised set of weather, climate and water services, found themselves in front line customer roles.
The deployment ensured the Australian Government was able to meet increased demand for services and support. Contributors like the Bureau exemplified the collaborative One APS mindset that is necessary to drive strategic and productive use of mobility by the APS workforce. The APS Mobility Framework draws on what we learned from the COVID-19 response and guides managers and executives to aim for these kinds of whole-of-APS enterprise outcomes when considering temporary moves. It encourages APS leaders to champion mobility as way of harnessing the full capability of the APS to meet the Government’s priorities and serve Australians.
BoM’s Group Executive of Enterprise Services, Paula Goodwin, says staff were willing to venture beyond their comfort zones to help out, and returned with a greater sense of belonging to a unified APS workforce with common goals.
What’s more, staff seconded to Services Australia are now injecting what they learned back into the Bureau’s own customer-centric transformation program.
“Staff connected with the community in a way they hadn’t really had the opportunity to in their normal roles,” Paula said.
“They came back with a new sense of the customer, and of what the customer and the community really needs.”
For at least one returning employee, the experience inspired them to seek out customer engagement roles as part of the Bureau’s Public Services Transformation Program. The program aims to build a cohesive ‘one Bureau’ national operation that delivers outstanding services where and when the community needs them.
Paula says this is just one example of the way new experiences can benefit both staff members and the organisation as a whole.
“For the staff, they valued the opportunity to help out in a time of crisis. But from the perspective of the Bureau, we really valued the experience our staff gained.”