The highs and lows our people have experienced this year are reflected in the People Matter survey results. On a broad range of measures, results have either remained steady or improved slightly. Pleasingly, and despite this year’s challenges, the sector employee engagement score has remained high, at 67%.
With the inclusion of the Health cluster in the survey again this year, the improvements in the overall People Matter survey results are a great reflection of the sector’s ability to work together in difficult circumstances.
Last year, the pandemic necessitated an acceleration of flexible ways of working. The sector’s long-term focus on flexible work, digital delivery and leadership capability meant it was well placed to meet many of the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
Hybrid working, where employees spend part of their time in the office and part of their time working from home, is here to stay. Over the past year, managers and staff have learned to work effectively in a hybrid environment while maintaining high levels of engagement and output across the sector, which are both markers of productivity.
By offering flexible working as part of our employee value proposition, we will continue to attract and retain top talent, including in occupations experiencing skills shortages, such as information technology (IT) and cybersecurity.1 This is consistent with national and global trends. Flexible working supports agencies to attract and retain diverse talent, such as people with caring responsibilities, people with disability, regional workers and older workers.2
Recent NSW Government research shows that flexible working can increase productivity and living standards, lower traffic congestion, transform central business districts, revitalise local economies and reduce instances of negative workplace behaviours.3 The benefits of flexible work also extend to frontline workers, who experience less traffic congestion and potentially more flexible rosters.4
We will of course need to consider what hybrid and flexible work look like for different organisations, roles and types of service delivery in the sector. We will also need to maintain the good management practices that were emphasised during lockdowns, such as managing for outcomes.
We continue to make progress towards the diversity targets in the Premier’s Priority for a world class public service. I am thrilled that we have already achieved the goal of doubling the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in senior leadership to 114 by 2025, with 130 current senior leaders identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
This year, 42.7% of the sector’s senior leaders are women. Sustained effort will be needed to reach the target of gender parity by 2025. I note that six out of 11 members of the NSW Secretaries Board are women. This will increase to seven in 2022 with the appointment of Karen Webb as NSW Police Commissioner. This is the highest number of women that have been on the Board at one time.
The sector continues to support LGBTIQA+ employees through local staff networks and the sector-wide Pride in NSW network. The Pride in NSW network has over 1,400 members, and the People Matter survey saw an increase in staff identifying as LGBTIQA+ and non-binary from 2020 to 2021.
There was a slight increase to 2.5% in the number of people recording in our human resources (HR) systems who say they have a disability, turning around a downward trend over the past few years. There was also an increase to 4.6% in the number of people disclosing a disability through the People Matter survey. The sector is working to develop initiatives that will encourage individuals to share their disability at work. These increases are encouraging, but a large amount of work is needed to reach the Premier’s Priority target of 5.6% of the workforce identifying as having a disability by 2025.
The workplace experience for people with disability is an area in which I want to see us make significant improvements. There is much to be done to ensure people with disability feel they are included and belong in the workplace, and are supported to do their best work.
There are several collaborative initiatives underway across the sector to build an environment where people with disability feel safe and supported. These initiatives include:
- making recruitment inclusive by increasing the number of agencies being accredited as disability-confident recruiters, ensuring recruitment platforms meet accessibility standards, building reasonable adjustments into the recruitment process, and providing comprehensive advice to disability employment service providers to make NSW Government recruitment an easy choice for their clients
- redesigning workspaces in line with new accessibility standards
- undertaking impactful research to uncover the barriers employees with disability face when choosing to disclose their disability, and providing solutions for agencies to remove these barriers
- trialling workplace adjustment passports.
Disability employment networks are also critical partners in ensuring that the voices of people with disability are central to understanding barriers and designing solutions.
The PSC is a member of the IncludeAbility Employer Network, established by the Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner. We will be sharing with the sector learnings and good practice gained through our association with this network.