The 2014 People Matter survey showed significant improvement since the previous survey in 2012 in the quality of communication between senior managers and employees (see Figure 14). For example, the proportion of employees who felt senior managers modelled the organisation's values increased from 61% in 2012 to 70% in 2014, and the belief that senior managers provided clear direction about the future of the organisation rose from 46% to 54%.

However, only 53% of employees felt senior managers listened to them and only 54% felt senior managers kept them informed about what was going on, both of which are important elements of inclusion.

Significantly, the role of senior managers was the most frequently raised issue when employees were asked what change was needed to improve the effectiveness of their workplace. A range of factors was raised, including the need for clear direction, transparency and honesty in communication, integrity, capability and strategic planning.

Figure 14: Employee perceptions about communication from senior managers

Figure 14 is a horizontal bar graph with sector results for four questions with key findings in the preceding paragraph.

The improvements compared to the 2012 results may reflect the efforts by agencies to improve their communication practices. In the Agency survey, agencies assessed their internal communication practices as well developed.

The most commonly reported internal communication practice was face-to-face communication between employees and the head of agency or other senior managers. Options for lower-level employees to arrange meetings with senior managers or to send them emails were also common practices (see Figure 15).

Figure 15: Communication practices implemented by agencies

Figure 15 shows the percentage of agencies that have implemented communication practices. The top three are reported in the paragraph above with all implemented by 98% of agencies. The remainder in ascending order are: union delegate council 90%; conducting and acting upon employee surveys 84%; employee committees tasked with recommending improvements 74%; suggestion programs 68%; online discussion forums 48%; and employee council 44%.

Despite positive self-assessment by agencies there is a clear disconnect between their practices and the extent to which employees feel they are kept informed. A comparison of the People Matter and Agency surveys shows benefits can be gained from investing in development programs to improve senior managers' communications skills. Agencies that did this tended to be rated more highly by employees in the People Matter survey on factors including customer service, employee engagement, learning, career development and performance management. However, only 10% of agencies had implemented this practice to a highly developed level.

The Public Service Commission acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the land on which our office stands.