The 2020 APS Employee Census Overall Results
The 2020 APS Employee Census was administered from 12 October 2020 to 13 November 2020 and received responses from 108,085 APS employees across 100 agencies. This resulted in a response rate of 78%, up from 77% in 2019 and 74% in 2018.
Impact of COVID-19 on the APS
Just under half (49%) of all respondents had worked on tasks or activities directly related to COVID‑19 since 27 February 2020. Most commonly (80%) this involved working on COVID-19 related work in their usual role.
Almost half (49%) of all respondents indicated their productivity had improved since COVID-19, while only 9% indicated that it had reduced. Most employees said they were currently working at (32%) or above capacity (59%).
Most respondents (89%) agreed their workgroup successfully adapts to new ways of working when required. Similarly, 80% of employees agreed their agency quickly adapts and responds to changing priorities, for example in response to crises such as COVID-19.
When compared with 2019 (22%), a larger proportion of respondents in 2020 (53%) were currently working away from the office or from home at least some of the time.
The employee engagement score for the APS slightly improved from 72% in 2019 to 73% in 2020.
This reflects a broader pattern of more positive results in 2020. For example, more than half of all respondents (58%) agreed their agency inspires them to come up with new or better ways of doing things. This was an increase on the 49% of employees who thought the same in 2019.
Across relevant questions in 2020, a higher proportion of respondents indicated positive perceptions of their leadership than in 2019. This was especially the case for the senior leadership within their agency. For example, 53% of employees agreed that the SES in their agency work as a team, up from 46% in 2019.
Similarly, 63% of respondents agreed the SES in their agency clearly articulate the direction and priorities for the agency (57% in 2019).
When considering their immediate SES manager, 71% of respondents agreed their immediate SES manager ensured work contributed to the strategic direction of the agency and the APS (67% in 2019).
Collaboration and working as one APS
Larger proportions of EL and SES respondents collaborated with external stakeholders in 2020. Seventy per cent of EL and SES respondents reported collaborating with other agencies (66% in 2019), while 69% had collaborated with other levels of government or external stakeholders (62% in 2019).
In 2020, a larger proportion of respondents (85%) believed strongly in the purpose and objectives of the APS than in 2019 (82%). Similarly, a slightly larger proportion of respondents (91%) understood how their role contributed to achieving an outcome for the Australian public (89% in 2019).
Nearly two-thirds of respondents (62%) agreed that crises such as the 2019-20 bushfires and COVID-19 had clarified their sense of purpose in working for the APS.
While employment conditions (81%), job security (79%) and type/nature of their work (62%) were the most commonly cited reasons by respondents in 2020 for staying in the APS, just under half (48%) cited service to the Australian public and 35% reported that it was due to a belief in the purpose and objectives of the APS.
The wellbeing index score increased from 67% in 2019 to 70% in 2020, suggesting employees increasingly felt that their agencies were supporting their health and wellbeing.
Just over one-third of respondents (36%) indicated that they felt burned out by their work. This is a new item for the APS, and will be of importance to monitor in the 2021 APS Employee Census.
APS Values and the Code of Conduct
A smaller proportion of employees had perceived discrimination in 2020 (11.7%, down from 12.2% in 2019). Similarly, 11.8% had perceived bullying and harassment (a drop from 13% in 2019).
3.5% of employees indicated having witnessed corruption in 2020, a relatively substantial drop from 4.4% in 2019.