2020 APS employee census to focus on changing work practices, but won’t be included in upcoming State of the Service Report

By Shannon Jenkins

Tuesday October 13, 2020


Important findings from the 2020 Australian Public Service employee census will be missing from this year’s State of the Service Report, according to the Australian Public Service Commission.

The annual survey commenced this week after its usual opening date in May was rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With the census to run until November 13, its results won’t be ready in time for the State of the Service Report, which is expected to be tabled in parliament by November 30.

However, the report will contain key insights on the impact of COVID-19 on the APS workforce from other sources, including the annual APS Agency Survey, internal agencies’ pulse surveys, and the APS surge workforce survey, an APSC spokesperson said.

They told The Mandarin that, in light of COVID-19, the employee census would look a little different this year.

“We have reshaped the content to focus on changing work practices (e.g., actions that have been implemented during COVID-19), general health and wellbeing, leading through crisis and collaborating to deliver outcomes. We have continued to assess employee engagement, capability development, and APS values and behaviours,” they said.

“Findings from the employee census form an important source of information on current employee perceptions. These findings will be used in conjunction with other sources of information to inform work on APS reform and guide future workforce strategies.”

Read more: Working from home – has it worked?

Compared with past surveys, this year’s census will likely see a shift in results in areas such as workplaces conditions and inclusion, after the majority of APS employees were forced to work from home for an extended period of time during the pandemic.

The 2019 census found that just 63% of employees agreed that their SES manager actively supported the use of flexible work arrangements by all staff, regardless of gender. A significantly larger amount of employees, 83%, believed their supervisor actively supported the use of flexible work arrangements by all staff, regardless of gender.

It also found that a greater proportion of females than males were using flexible working arrangements, with just over half of respondents indicating they accessed flexible work arrangements in 2019.

Change management and readiness to change may also be perceived differently by the 2020 survey respondents, after being thrown into different ways of operating for much of the year. The 2018-19 State of the Service Report noted that in 2019, 65% of employees reported they had experienced major workplace change in their immediate workgroup in the previous 12 months, but only 39% agreed that change was managed well in their agency.

The APS employee census has been conducted since 2012. Invitations for the 2020 census will be emailed out to APS employees between 12 and 16 October.

Read more: Flexible working and the pandemic: more than just working from home


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