Engagement across the sector remains steady

High levels of employee engagement correspond to improved productivity, innovation, better customer service and lower absenteeism1. NSW public sector engagement has been measured since 2012 through the People Matter Employee Survey, run biennially since 2012.2

The Engagement Index has improved slightly to 65.0% from 64.8% in 2014, with 50,000 more people responding in 2016 compared to 2014.3

The sector-wide score, however, does not show the range. 14% of the 100 agencies participating had scores below 60%, and 33% of agencies had scores over 70%.

Figure 5.1: 2016 Employee engagement index questions

Figure 5.1: 2016 Employee engagement index questions

Click to view


2016 % agree 2014 % agree
I am proud to tell others I work for my organisation 68% 70%
I feel a strong personal attachment to my organisation 64% 66%
I would recommend my organisation as a great place to work 60% 57%
My organisation motivates me to help it achieve its objectivesn 55% 52%
My organisation inspires me to do the best in my job 55% 53%

The index score of 65% is an average score, not an agreement percentage. All other scores indicate the percentage of respondents who agree with a statement.

Source: People Matter Employee Survey 2016

Employees are generally more positive about their immediate working environments, teams and line managers, and generally less positive about senior managers.

The People Matter Employee Survey 2016 also asked questions about engagement with work, and responses revealed a high level of commitment from people in the sector to their work and to customers.

95% of employees agree that they look for ways to do their jobs more effectively. 76% agree they are motivated to contribute more than required and that their work gives them a feeling of accomplishment. 63% agree that they are satisfied at work, with only 20% saying they are not satisfied with their jobs.

Figure 5.2: 2016 Employee engagement with work

Figure 5.2: 2016 Employee engagement with work

Click to view


% agree
I look for ways to perform my job more effectively 95
My job gives me a feeling of personal accomplishment 76
I feel motivated to contribute more than what is normally required at work 76
I am satisfied with my job at the present time 63

Source: People Matter Employee Survey 2016

Engagement is driven by a number of factors

Statistical analysis was undertaken to identify the key drivers of engagement, based on links between questions in the survey and the Engagement Index questions. These drivers are important. If agencies focus on improving lower results or leveraging strong results in select drivers they are likely to address engagement at a broader level.

The key drivers at a sector level are:

  • co-operation and collaboration
  • confidence in the capability of others
  • innovation and improvement
  • change management
  • performance development.

Figure 5.3: Questions strongly associated with engagement in the sector

 Figure 5.3: Questions strongly associated with engagement in the sector

Click to view


% agree
My organisation focuses on improving the work we do 76
My organisation is making the necessary improvements to meet our future challenges 62
My organisation is committed to developing its employees 53
My organisation generally selects capable people to do the job 51
There is good co-operation between teams across our organisation 48
I feel that change is handled well in my organisation 41

Source: People Matter survey 2016

There were differences in key drivers at the cluster level. Education and Health – which comprise 62% of the workforce – share the same drivers of engagement as the overall sector. Career development has a stronger relationship with engagement in clusters such as Finance, Industry and Justice. Other clusters have specific concerns. Having confidence in the way grievances are handled, knowing the organisation provides high-quality services, and having enough information to do the job well are unique to individual clusters.

Figure 5.4: Key drivers of engagement across clusters

 Figure 5.4: Key drivers of engagement across clusters

Click to view

  Question  Education
Family
Finance  Health  Industry  Justice  Planning  Premier  Transport  Treasury 
All clusters had organisation committed to developing employees as a driver of employee engagement (that is, Education, Family and Community Services, Finance, Health, Industry, Justice, Planning and Environment, Premier and Cabinet, Transport and Treasury).
 
Organisation is committed to developing employees  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
 Nine out of 10 clusters (excepting Treasury) had whether an organisations focuses on improving work as a driver of employee engagement. That is, Education, Family and Community Services, Finance, Health, Industry, Justice, Planning and Environment, Premier and Cabinet, and Transport).
Organisation focuses on improving work  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  
 Eight out of 10 clusters had organisation making improvements to meet future challenges as a driver of employee engagement. (That is, Education, Family and Community Services, Finance, Health, Industry, Justice, Premier and Cabinet, and Transport). Planning and Environment, and Treasury did not.
Organisation making improvements to meet future challenges
 Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes Yes   Yes    Yes  Yes  
 Seven out of 10 clusters had good cooperation between teams as a driver of employee engagement, namely Education, Family and Community Services, Finance, Health, Justice, Transport and Treasury. Industry, Planning and Environment, and Premier and Cabinet did not.
 Good cooperation between teams
 Yes Yes   Yes  Yes    Yes      Yes  Yes
 Six out of 10 clusters satisfaction with career development opportunities as a key driver of employee engagement (that is, Finance, Industry, Justice, Planning and Environment, Premier and Cabinet, and Transport.  Education, Family and Community Services, Health, and Treasury did not).  Satisfaction with career development opportunities
     Yes    Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  
 Four clusters had change is handled well within an organisation as a key driver of engagement, that is, Education, Family and Community Services, Health and Treasury.
 Change is handled well in my organisation  Yes  Yes    Yes            Yes
 Four clusters had organisation selects capable people as a key driver of engagement, that is, Education,  Health, Justice and Transport  Organisation selects capable people  Yes      Yes    Yes      Yes  
 Four clusters had organisation support is provided to optimise my contribution as a key driver of engagement, that is, Industry, Planning and Environment, Premier and Cabinet and Treasury.  Support is provided to optimise my contribution
         Yes    Yes  Yes    Yes
 Two clusters had I feel able to suggest ideas for improvement as a key driver of engagement, that is, Industry, and Premier and Cabinet  I feel able to suggest ideas for improvement          Yes      Yes    
 Two clusters had people in my organisation take responsibility for their own actions as a key driver of engagement, that is, Finance and Treasury  People in my organisation take responsibility for their own actions
     Yes              Yes
 Only Treasury cluster had I get the information I need to do the job well as a key driver of employee engagement  I get the information I need to do the job well                    Yes
 Only Planning and Environment cluster had I contribute to organisation objectives as a key driver of employee engagement  I contribute to organisation objectives              Yes      
 Only Planning and Environment cluster had organisation provides high quality services as a key driver of employee engagement  Organisation provides high quality services
             Yes      
Only Family and Community Services cluster had confidence in the way the organisation resolves grievances as a key driver of employee engagement  Confidence in the way the organisation
   Yes                

Source: People Matter Employee Survey 2016

Demographic variations in engagement

Younger employees, new employees and executives have higher engagement scores than the sector average. Those aged over 30 and managers were all broadly in line with overall scores. Scores were notably higher for those satisfied with their flexible work arrangements (72%), but dipped to 47% if dissatisfied with their arrangements.

Scores were lower than average for employees with disability, a reported mental health condition, or longer employment tenure, with employees of 10-plus years among the least engaged. Typically engagement surveys across the private and public sectors globally show levels of engagement begin high, fall to their lowest point after 2–5 years of service and then recover after 10 years to higher than average levels. However, this pattern is not as noticeable in the NSW public sector.

Figure 5.5: Engagement index by demographic

Figure 5.5: Engagement index by demographic

Click to view

Group
Age
Seniority
Length of service
Sector 65% 20-24 75% Non manager 64% <1 year 73%
Male 63% 50-54 64% Manager 66% 5-10 years 63%
Female 67% 65+ 68% Manager of managers 71% 10-20 years 62%
Language other than English 68%

Senior executive 74% >20 years 64%
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 66%

Working arrangement


Disability 60%

Full time 65

Diagnosed with mental health condition 58%

Part-time 66

LGBTI 64%

Very satisfied with flexible working arrangement 72





Highly unsatisfied with flexible working arrangement 47

Source: People Matter Employee Survey 2016  4

Agencies are taking action to improve engagement

Only 32% of employees believe that action will be taken as a result of the Employee survey, with a broad range across 100 agencies of 13% to 88% of the 100 agencies participating. This is a significant challenge for leaders over the next 12 months.

While fewer agencies say they have implemented initiatives specifically to improve employee engagement than in 2015 (71% compared with 74%), agencies that say nothing has been done also dropped (8% compared with 12% last year). In focus groups, many agencies report they have undertaken road shows with executives to provide opportunities for communication with employees, and to recognise good work. Any issues raised during the road shows were assigned to an executive to resolve, with the expectation they would report back on the action taken. The sector also reported engagement as one of the top five development priorities for agencies in the coming year.

Many agencies with higher engagement scores report that their approach has evolved to understanding the unique drivers in selected workforce demographics and targeting these. For example, one agency with a particularly young workforce focuses on innovation and technology after identifying this was a driver of engagement for this demographic. Other agencies with longer-tenure employees find that focusing on initiatives to collaboratively solve problems has proven effective.


Notes

1 Rayton, B., Dodge, T. & D’Analeze, G. (2012). The evidence: Employee engagement taskforce. Nailing the evidence workgroup. University of Bath(2012). University of Bath

2 The Engagement Index draws on five questions from a pool of 100, and shows the level of agreement with feelings of pride, attachment, motivation, inspiration and willingness to recommend the organisation as a great place to work.

3 The 2016 response rate was 36% of the total workforce, and 2014 was 19%.

4 Note earlier versions of Figure 5.5 in this report represented the engagement score for employees satisfied with their flexible work arrangement as 47%, and for those unsatisfied with their flexible work arrangements as 74%. In fact, the correct results are that employees satisfied with their flexible work arrangement report an average of 72% engagement, and those unsatisfied with their flexible work arrangement report an average of 47% engagement. This has been corrected in the pdf attached, and in the copy on the NSW Parliament website, as of 12 December 2016