State of the service

Employee Engagement

2015-16 State of the Service – Employee engagement

  • “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” –Steve Jobs

Australian Public Service (APS) employee engagement remains high in 2016.

Employee engagement is measured by the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) using the APS Employee Engagement Model. This model measures the relationship employees have with four dimensions of their work: the job they do each day, the team they work with, their immediate supervisor, and the agency they work for.

Employee engagement is an ongoing area of focus for the APS. APS employee census results consistently show that engaged employees are likely to:

  • be more productive
  • have a greater commitment to achieving organisational goals
  • use less sick leave
  • remain with their current employer for a longer period.

Results from the 2016 APS employee census show a continuing trend of incremental increases in engagement scores since 2012. The nature of employee engagement means that large increases or decreases in year-on-year results are not expected. A trend of incremental increases in engagement scores points to stable engagement levels against a backdrop of sight improvement.

Figure 1.

Employee engagement for 2014, 2015 and 2016

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Variations exist across the four dimensions of engagement depending on agency function. This is consistent with results from previous years. Specialist, policy and regulatory agencies consistently rate higher on each engagement measure. Specialist agencies score higher than all other agencies.

Figure 2.

Employee engagement by agency function for 2016

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Employee engagement scores vary across classification levels. Employee census results consistently show that senior employees demonstrate higher levels of engagement across all four measures. Engagement for Senior Executive Service (SES) officers is particularly high for job and agency engagement. Over 90 percent of SES officers believe their job gives them the opportunity to use their skills. Nearly 80 percent of SES officers feel employees in their agency are valued for their contribution.

Figure 3.

Employee engagement by classification for 2016

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Employees’ perceptions of immediate supervisors have a significant impact on employee engagement. Supervisor engagement is consistently ranked highest of all four measures of engagement. Eighty-one percent of staff agree they have a good supervisor. Sixty-five percent of staff agree their immediate supervisor encourages them.

Agency engagement is typically ranked the lowest of the four measures of engagement. A contributing factor to this relatively low score is that only 41 percent of employees feel that communication between SES and other employees in their agency is effective. In addition, less than 50 percent of staff feel valued for their contribution or feel like it is a personal compliment when someone praises the accomplishments of their agency.

Limited comparable data is available to provide reliable benchmarking of employee engagement in the APS against private sector and international public sector performance. Benchmarking from ORC International Perspectives enables comparisons of the measures contributing to the APS job engagement score.

Sixty-eight percent of employees in the APS report that their job gives them a feeling of personal accomplishment. This is lower than private sector and international public sector benchmarks. Seventy-four percent of APS employees report that their job gives them opportunities to utilise their skills. This is consistent with private sector and international public sector results.

Figure 4.

Job engagement for 2016

Paper icon representing the learn more page Learn more about this chart: view data for Figure 4.

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For other 2015-16 State of the Service categories, please read the 2015-16 State of the Service page.