Online version of the 2012-13 Department of Health and Ageing Annual Report

3.4: People Management

Page last updated: 29 October 2013

We value the commitment, achievements and development of all staff, and our ability to apply our skills and training to the delivery of better health and ageing outcomes

Workplace Planning and Staff Retention

As at 30 June 2013, the Department employed 5,308 staff including Therapeutic Goods Administration, National Industrial Chemical Notification and Assessment Scheme, Office of the Gene Technology Regulator and Office of the Aged Care Commissioner staff. This figure includes staff on leave, secondment and inoperative staff. This compares with 5,092 as at 30 June 2012. A total of 4,788 staff were employed on an ongoing basis and 520 were non-ongoing.

During 2013, the Department of Health and Ageing Workforce Plan 2013-15 and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Workforce Plan 2013-2016 were agreed. Both plans identified a number of human resource strategies to be implemented that will enable the Department to take a more strategic approach to workforce planning.

During the year, workforce planning was more strongly embedded into the Department’s business planning cycle, with business units focusing on critical roles and workforce capability gaps and identifying strategies to mitigate workforce risks.

The ongoing employee retention rate remains high with 91% of ongoing employees remaining in the Department for the past 12 months. During the year, an exit survey was implemented with the results being used to inform attraction and retention strategies.

Managing and Developing Staff to Achieve Departmental Objectives

The Department continues to improve the way it focuses on the management and development of staff towards the achievement of departmental objectives. The annual Staff Survey results show significant improvements in staff perception of the way their supervisors set performance expectations, manage people and support the development of their capabilities.

At the individual level, staff and their supervisors engage in a formal biannual Performance Development Scheme (PDS) process. The 2013 Staff Survey results showed that staff overwhelmingly reported that their PDS plan was linked to their branch business plan and that it adequately took into account their learning and development needs.

The Department has also developed a range of initiatives to progress the strategic focus on people management and capability development. The Department’s Workforce Plan 2013-15 provides a framework within which information about existing and anticipated business outcomes is mapped against current and future workforce capabilities. This will enable informed strategic workforce planning decisions at all levels of the organisation. The strategies that underpin this approach include a Learning and Capability Development Strategy, a Talent Management Strategy (to build future leadership), a Critical Role Skills Development Framework (to mitigate critical role risk), and a new program for the development of middle managers. In addition, work has commenced on a People Capability Framework, which will efficiently and effectively identify critical capability gaps that can impact on delivery of business outcomes.

In managing the performance of staff at the operational level, the Department continues to focus on developing staff capability through the ‘Optimising Performance’ initiative. This includes dedicated human resources support for managers, a comprehensive intranet portal with resources and a series of presentations designed to provide participants with practical people management techniques. This material also informs all of the core management capability development courses offered to managers.

The Department, through the DoHA National Alignment, has embarked on a process of organisational redesign to maintain its ability to meet rising citizen and government expectations in a constrained fiscal environment. The Department is aiming to retain its pool of capable and skilled people and to build capability in new areas to deliver on the Government’s priorities. The Department has therefore implemented strategies to foster mobility, facilitating the ability of staff to transition between internal roles, thereby increasing the flexibility with which staff can be deployed. Internal movement of staff to support peak workloads and departmental priorities is a critical business enabler. More information on the DoHA National Alignment is provided in Part 1: About the Department.

Workplace Agreements in the Department

The Department’s agreement-making practices with its staff are consistent with the current Australian Public Service Bargaining Framework (2011) and the Fair Work Act 2009. The forms of workplace agreements available to Department staff during 2012-13 are discussed below.

Enterprise Agreement

The Enterprise Agreement provides terms and conditions of employment for the Department’s non-Senior Executive Service staff. The Department’s current Enterprise Agreement took effect from 30 November 2011 with a nominal expiry date of 30 June 2014.

The Enterprise Agreement contains an individual flexibility arrangements clause, which enables the Department to make individual arrangements to provide additional or varied terms and conditions to non-Senior Executive Service staff where necessary. See Part 3.5: Staffing Information for details on the inclusions of the Enterprise Agreement.

Individual Determinations

Comprehensive terms and conditions of employment are provided for new Senior Executive Service staff via individual determinations made under Section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999. The determinations are produced following negotiations between the staff member and the Department regarding terms and conditions of employment. See Part 3.5: Staffing Information for more information on individual determinations in the Department.

Australian Workplace Agreements

The Department no longer offers or varies Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs), however there remain some Senior Executive Service staff with AWAs. Senior Executive Service staff covered by an AWA who negotiate new terms and conditions are subsequently supplemented via a Section 24(1) determination.

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Common Law Contracts

Common law contracts are not generally used by the Department, however they may be used to establish and/or supplement conditions and entitlements where necessary.

Remuneration for Senior Officers

In 2012-13, the Department maintained a remuneration position consistent with equivalent public sector agencies. The Department ensures that base salaries, bonuses and inclusions such as the allowance paid in lieu of a motor vehicle comply with government policy and guidelines.

Individual salaries are negotiated on commencement and reviewed annually by the Department’s Executive. Total remuneration for Senior Executive Service staff can also include access to potential performance pay along with non-monetary inclusions or reimbursements for mobile phones and laptops/tablets.

Performance Pay

Performance pay is a one off annual payment available to eligible ongoing Executive Level 2 (and equivalent) employees with an Individual Flexibility Arrangement (IFA) and Senior Executive Service (and equivalent) employees with individual agreements under the Public Service Act 1999 which provide access to performance pay. The staff member must have completed at least three months of observable performance within the Department’s performance cycle and have achieved the required Performance Development Scheme (PDS) rating at the end of the cycle for payment to be made. The quantum of performance pay received by each eligible staff member is determined by the rating received during the performance assessment period. A number of other departments have rolled performance pay into base salaries, but the Department of Health and Ageing has kept a performance pay scheme which is not guaranteed and which makes a portion of total remuneration contingent on performance.

The Department’s aim in offering performance pay includes:

  • attracting high-performing executive employees;
  • recognising and rewarding employee performance;
  • encouraging a culture of innovation, continuous improvement and efficiency in delivering departmental outcomes and objectives; and
  • encouraging current high-performing staff to build their capability and seek further development and promotion opportunities.

Learning and Development

The Department conducts an annual Capability Needs Analysis to inform the development and delivery of learning and development activities. The Department is increasingly focusing on learning on-the-job. Training courses are designed to emphasise actions that participants can take in the workplace to further their development and to embed a culture of learning.

In 2012-13, the Department continued to offer a comprehensive national learning and development curriculum, providing regular courses addressing the capabilities most needed across the organisation as identified in the annual Capability Needs Analysis.

In the core capability development area 6,738 training places were taken up throughout the year. Core capability training was delivered in the following areas:

  • people, management, leadership and change (29%);
  • planning, communication and writing (30%);
  • finance, procurement and risk (14%);
  • information technology (12%); and
  • other (15%).

In addition, mandatory training in support of organisational improvement and the DoHA National Alignment projects contributed an additional 4,000 training places, amounting to a total of more than 10,000 training places.

Staff were also supported with online learning programs for cultural awareness, recordkeeping and new Work, Health and Safety Legislation. Online learning programs associated with these initiatives were accessed by 3,229 staff.

In addition, 130 staff attended corporately funded specialist or technical training.

In 2012-13, the Department supported the smaller agencies within the Health and Ageing Portfolio by providing access to in-house training, with 195 agency staff members taking part.

This year the Department initiated a new approach to the development of its management cadre through the pilot of a Middle Managers’ Development Program targeting staff at the Executive Level 2.

The Department also provided a number of other management and leadership opportunities for staff including a series of well-attended seminars for Executive Level staff, online learning through the Corporate Leadership Council, and an informal mentoring program. The Department also offered executive coaching services to Senior Executive Service staff and a number of them participated in a pilot program of cross-divisional Leadership Insight Groups.

The evaluation framework for all learning and development activities was redeveloped in 2012-13. This led to the collection of valuable information which provided insight for decision-making processes. The programs were evaluated as largely meeting the planned learning outcomes. Staff reported they were applying their learning towards meeting business outcomes in the workplace.

In 2012-13, the Department also continued its commitment to a range of entry level programs including the Graduate Development Program, Indigenous Pathways Programs, and the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Program.

Staff Survey

The staff survey continues to be an important gauge of staff views and is in its tenth year. In the 2013 staff survey 82% of staff participated with 70% of those largely satisfied with the organisation and their job. While many of the Department’s results were above the APS average, the survey continues to identify areas for improvement and these will be addressed in the 2013-14 People Strategy Action Plan.

The staff survey shows an improvement in the way staff perceive their development needs are being met, with results now at or above those for comparable organisations. The majority of staff report satisfaction with the priority the Department places on learning and development and their access to relevant opportunities. About half of staff said that they have access to the formal or informal coaching and mentoring they need to perform, which supports the Department’s emphasis on workplace learning.

Productivity Gains

The Portfolio is expected to make significant savings in future years. These savings will be realised through the DoHA National Alignment program which is strategically targeting productivity and efficiency gains through:

  • IT Reform (including a completed desktop refresh, the Electronic Document and Records Management System, Enterprise Data Warehouse and Parliamentary Workflow System).
  • Grants Reform (including Flexible Funds program consolidation, Single Grant Management System, Single Enterprise Agreement and Grants Risk Framework).
  • Administrative Reform (including Portfolio Shared Services Centre, Labour Hire Panel, correspondence streamlining and video conferencing).
  • Ongoing Workload Reductions (including targeted process reviews).

The Department has a goal to reduce workloads in line with reductions in resources as the Portfolio moves towards more efficient and best practice administration.

For more information on the DoHA National Alignment, refer to Part 1: About the Department.

Ethical Standards

During 2012-13 the Department continued its commitment to high ethical standards.

The Department provides new staff with a copy of the APS Values and the APS Code of Conduct, and educates staff of their responsibilities under the Public Service Act 1999 through DoHA Essentials training. This mandatory e-learning course emphasises the workplace behaviours expected of all staff.

In October 2012, a new ‘Managing Conduct’ intranet site was launched which contains the formal procedures and supporting guidelines for determining and managing suspected breaches of the APS Code of Conduct. The site includes comprehensive information for complainants, managers and respondents on all aspects of the complaints process and highlights the expectations of staff in their conduct and compliance with APS legislation. The website was supported by seminars on respect in the workplace and staff obligations in accordance with the APS Values and Code of Conduct.

Staff education continued on the APS Act amendments that came into effect on 1 July 2013. Staff across the Department were informed of the changes through all staff messages, presentations and intranet feature articles. In particular, changes to the APS Values and Code of Conduct and the introduction of the Employment Principles were highlighted.

The Department takes all alleged breaches of the APS Code of Conduct seriously and ensures processes are managed in accordance with best practice. The majority of complaints received were managed through local management action or preliminary investigation.

Five employees were formally investigated during 2012-13 for breaches of the APS Code of Conduct and three employees were found to have breached the Code. Two of those employees resigned prior to a sanction being imposed and the remaining one received a formal reprimand.

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