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
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
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.