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Public Service Commission

PMES 2016


The online NSW People Matter Employee Survey was open to all employees across the NSW Government sector during May 2016.  

The survey provides an important opportunity for almost 400,000 employees to have a say about their workplace and to help make the public sector a better place to work.

The survey asks employees about experiences with their own work and working with their team, managers and the organisation. Participants are asked to be thoughtful, honest and candid when they complete the survey.

The public sector includes a wide range of services relating to health, education, transport, justice, family support, finance, planning and environment and many other areas. Employees provide services direct to the public or work behind the scenes in research, policy, programs, clerical, corporate or other types of jobs.

The survey is co-ordinated by the Public Service Commission working in collaboration with public sector departments and agencies.

2016 main findings

People Matter 2016: Main Findings Report

Should you require an accessible version of the report please contact us

Download the report

The results in the 2016 main findings report form a sound evidence base that displays areas of strength across the NSW public sector as well as gaps that need to be addressed.

This is the third People Matter survey. It had a total of 127,191 respondents, the highest level of response to date. This year, 36% of all public sector employees responded compared to 19% in 2014 and 16% in 2012. The majority of respondents work in areas involved in direct contact with the public, such as health, education, transport and justice services.

The findings show the many strengths of the NSW public sector workforce:

  • Employee engagement across the sector remains steady at 65% (p8)
  • 95% of respondents look for ways to perform their job more effectively (p9)
  • 85% agree that their workgroup strives to achieve customer/client satisfaction (p31)
  • 85% agree that diversity in the workplace can contribute to better business outcomes (p37)
  • 83% believe that their organisation strives to earn and sustain a high level of public trust (p37)
  • 76% feel that their organisation focuses on improving its work (p25)
  • 76% agree that people in their workgroup have the appropriate skills to do the job well (p24)
  • 75% of respondents agree that their team works collaboratively to achieve its objectives (p23)
  • 69% feel that their manager communicates effectively with them (p19)
  • 67% believe that people in their workgroup are honest, open and transparent (p30).

The findings also highlight employee concerns that need to be addressed:

  • There has been a downward trend in bullying and other types of unacceptable behaviour over the 2012, 2014 and 2016 surveys (p34) but further work is required in this area. Action is underway at sector wide and agency levels.
  • Views about recruitment practices are generally low. Younger employees and those with a shorter length of service are more positive than average (p42).
  • Change management is a continuing issue for many employees. The majority of comments about this concern job security and organisation or service restructuring (p17).
  • Overall, employees are more positive about their job, workgroup and direct manager and less positive about senior managers and the organisation.
  • There is a clear distinction between perceptions of senior managers and direct managers with the latter generally attracting higher scores.  Whilst it is not uncommon for leadership to be an area of lower perceptions due to the reduced visibility of leaders in large and complex organisations in particular, nevertheless it is important to ensure negative trends are addressed. 
  • Respondents generally have low levels of confidence that action will be taken on survey results by their organisation, a finding that leaders will be working to reverse. 

Trend comparisons with previous surveys in 2014 and 2012 are not examined in great detail in this report as changes have been made to the main answering scale, in line with international practice and changes in other jurisdictions. This means that a new baseline has been created for 2016 against which future years will be measured.

Responses from individual employees are confidential and strict rules are in place to safeguard privacy at every stage of the survey process.

Response rates and results


Response rate (per cent)

Number of responses

NSW public sector






Family and Community Services















Planning and Environment



Premier and Cabinet









Separate agencies



State owned corporations



Cluster and agency reports

Family and Community Services
Planning and Environment
Premier and Cabinet
Separate agencies
State owned corporations

How the results will be used

Public sector organisations will receive reports that summarise the response from their employees. The results are used by organisations to identify areas of good practice and to make improvements where needed using the evidence from the survey.

The Public Service Commission uses the results to report on the overall performance of the public sector and to inform different types of sector wide workforce management initiatives.

Most importantly, the results of the survey can be used throughout the sector by employees, managers and work groups. The Public Service Commission encourages all employees and managers to engage with the results of the survey and think about how change can be affected at an individual, organisational and systems level to improve workplace practices.