The People Matter survey used five statements to assess employee engagement, to produce an Engagement Index for benchmarking with other Australian states, the Australian Public Service (APS) and the UK Civil Service.
The results show there was an improvement in employee engagement in NSW in 2014 compared with 2012 – 65% versus 61%. The response to an additional engagement statement about job satisfaction was relatively high among public sector employees (78% in 2014 compared with 74% in 2012), indicating employees are now genuinely more engaged.
The Engagement Index score for NSW is just below the 67% recorded for Victoria in 2014 and slightly more positive than that recorded by the APS in 2013. It also compares favourably to recent scores recorded for the Queensland Public Service and the UK Civil Service, each of which registered a score of 58% in 2013 for the same set of questions.
Table 2: Employee engagement comparisons across Australian jurisdictions
Engagement scores in this table are weighted average percentages
Private sector studies report levels of engagement ranging from 24% in a multi‑industry Australian study13 to approximately 80% for some individual companies. As some measures and industries can be quite different to the public sector, they are not directly comparable.
with positive levels of
include confidence in
listening to employees,
direction for the
What drives engagement?
In addition to the Engagement Index, the People Matter
survey identified the types of employee experiences and
work practices most strongly associated with engagement
(see Table 3). This analysis provides insight for agencies
into the work practices and experiences instrumental in
enhancing employee engagement.
Table 3: The 10 statements showing the strongest
association with employee engagement
Engagement was found to be highest in workplaces where
employees believed their organisations were achieving
objectives, managing change well, contributing to the
community and adhering to the core public sector values.
Notable differences in responses
The People Matter survey found that employees 24 years
or younger and 65 years or older were more engaged than
others, with an Engagement Index score of 73% and 69%
respectively. Engagement was lower for the larger groups
aged 35–44 and 45–55 (both 64%). Employees planning to
retire before the age of 55 were less engaged than those
planning to retire after 60 (58% and 66% respectively).
Mid- and senior-level managers reported a higher level
of engagement than front-line managers and employees,
while new employees recorded an Engagement Index
score of 69%, which was higher than that of longer-term
employees, at 62%.
Less engaged employees were also much less likely to
continue working in their current organisation and in
the NSW public sector generally than those with higher
levels of engagement.
A comparison of the People Matter and Agency surveys
also reveals that even though larger agencies were more
likely to have well‑developed workforce, mobility and talent
management plans, this didn't always equate to better
employee engagement. Engagement was highest among
agencies with 100 to 500 staff members and lowest among
those with a staff of 5,000 to 10,000 (see Figure 10).
Figure 10: Employee engagement and planning maturity
across agencies of different sizes
One possible reason is that individuals in smaller agencies
feel closer to senior managers and more involved in internal
initiatives. It indicates that larger agencies may need to look more closely at local impacts on engagement.