Get me out of here: nearly a third of APS employees plotting quick exit

By Harley Dennett

October 12, 2016

Nearly a third of federal public servants are feeling career wanderlust. According to the latest APS census snapshot, almost 10,000 public servants are ready to pack up their desk immediately while a further 33,000 want out by this time next year — if the opportunity presents itself.

While also feeling an itch, but not needing to leave quite so soon are around quarter of public servants, who say they’re willing to stick with their organisation for a year or two.

The Australian Public Service Commission hasn’t attempted to track this intention to leave against previous years — the question format has changed too much, now allowing employees a much greater choice of responses.

In past surveys, Commonwealth employees were asked if they intended to leave within two years, and with some annual fluctuation, around a third of APS and EL grades and more than 40% of SES indicating they would. While it may look like there’s now a larger pool of wavering employees, the jump could simply be due to the expanded options in the question.

Another way to look at these figures is to note that the same survey also showed incredible longevity of most federal employees. More than half of all Commonwealth public servants (52%) have served for more than 10 years and 38% have served more than 10 years in their current organisation.

The APSC hasn’t yet published the results of this year’s exit survey analysis, but there has been a consistent trend: “Employees who resigned had significantly lower engagement levels than all other respondents.”

“Employees most commonly reported that a lack of future career opportunities impacted the decision to leave their agency. A desire to try a new career, unmet work expectations or having achieved all they could in their job, were all important factors.

“The loss of these employees needs to be considered in terms of the value to society of movement between sectors. It can broaden employee perspectives. Each APS vacancy also creates an opportunity for organisational renewal.”

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