1001.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics -- Annual Report, 2007-08  
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Contents >> Section VI - How the ABS Operates >> Chapter 18 - Management of Human Resources

INTRODUCTION

The ABS depends on the combined efforts of capable and motivated employees to achieve its objectives. The ABS needs: employees who understand Australia’s evolving information needs, and can assist the ABS to satisfy those needs; employees who understand the changes to the environment in which the ABS operates, and can help the ABS to adapt to those changes; and employees with both professional competence and a commitment to both Australian Public Service (APS) and ABS values.

Human resource management is a critical function within the ABS, as it is key to ensuring the attraction and retention of a workforce that is skilled to deliver the work program.

As at 30 June 2008, there were 3,024 staff employed at the ABS under the Public Service Act 1999 1,999–1,449 males and 1,575 females. This includes operative, paid inoperative and unpaid inoperative staff. The ABS had 2,873 operative and paid inoperative staff, as at 30 June 2008. There were also 623 staff employed under the Regulation 3 of the Statistics Regulations, and appointed as authorised officers for the purpose of the Census and Statistics Act under Section 16 of the Census and Statistics Act 1905, to assist with data collection—mostly household survey interviewers.

Graph 18.1 presents the profile of ABS staff by employment classification and sex. Table 18.1 presents the location and type of employment for operative and paid inoperative ABS staff. Staff employed under the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 (interviewers), and 151 unpaid inoperative staff are excluded from the data below.

Graph 18.1: Employment Classification by sex, 30 June 2008(a)

Graph 18.1: Employment Classification by sex, 30 June 2008(a)

(a) Operative and paid inoperative staff.
(b) Includes Statistician (statutory appointment).

Table 18.1: Number of ABS staff by location and status, at 30 June 2008(a)

Ongoing
Non-ongoing
Total
Full-time
Part-time
Full-time
Part-time
Central office (ACT)
1358
221
13
76
1668
NSW
229
48
2
31
310
Vic
196
40
1
4
241
Qld
111
27
-
-
138
WA
149
18
21
4
192
SA
127
45
2
4
178
Tas
83
18
-
-
101
NT
29
5
-
-
34
ACT
10
1
-
-
11
Total
2292
423
39
119
2873
(a) Includes operative and paid inoperative staff.

There are now 15 women in the Senior Executive Service (SES), with women continuing to constitute over one-third of the SES.

Table 18.2: Number of ABS Senior Executive Staff (SES) by level, sex and year (a)

SES LevelSex
Year (at 30 June)
1
2
3
Male
Female
Total
2005
26
6
2
26
8
34
2006
25
6
2
22
11
33
2007
28
5
2
22
13
35
2008
33
6
3
27
15
42
(a) Includes only operative, substantive SES officers as at 30 June, but excludes the Australian Statistician, who is a statutory office holder appointed under the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975.

AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC SERVICE VALUES IN THE ABS

The Australian Public Service (APS) Values are actively promoted and strongly adhered to throughout the ABS. At the highest level, the ABS Mission Statement reflects the apolitical nature of the APS, as well as its commitment to the provision of comprehensive, accurate and timely advice.

The ABS also has long established agency values that are fundamental to the ABS performing its role as an independent provider of statistical information. The ABS Values directly relate to, and are congruent with, APS Values. These values are strongly upheld by employees and include:

  • integrity—data, analysis and interpretation are always apolitical with the highest standards of integrity applied

  • service—the ABS understands its service role and seeks to understand and assist its clients’ statistical needs

  • professionalism—the professionalism of employees is actively developed to ensure the ABS has the technical and leadership skills required for the future

  • relevance—all information provided by the ABS is relevant in terms of timeliness and content

  • trust of providers—the ABS maintains provider trust by adhering to the highest level of data protection and privacy standards, and

  • access for all—the ABS ensures its statistics can be easily accessed and used by the community, business and governments.

    The importance of the APS Values is reflected and integrated into the day-to-day management and operations of the ABS. For example, the obligations of employees to uphold the APS and ABS Values and abide by the APS Code of Conduct are:

  • promoted in training courses from induction through to senior management development programs

  • actively applied through human resource processes

  • supported by guidelines, policies and procedures, which themselves take account of the APS Values

  • reflected throughout ABS corporate material, which is readily accessible to employees through the ABS Intranet, and

  • promoted via posters and the distribution of bookmarks to all employees and new recruits.

    All employees are expected to include key deliverables in their performance agreements, which articulate the expectation that they will adhere to and promote the APS Values and Code of Conduct, and consistently behave in an ethical and professional way.

    RECRUITMENT

    Effective and targeted recruitment continues to be a priority area for the ABS. In 2007–08, the ABS responded to challenges from a tightening labour market and through improved branding and marketing activities, increased the agency’s visibility as an ‘employer of choice’ within the Australian Public Service.

    Recruitment projects in 2007–08 included:

  • implementing recommendations from recruitment reviews and audits that were undertaken to ensure well-defined and streamlined recruitment practices, processes and systems

  • acquiring and planning the implementation of an e-recruitment system to further improve the efficiency of ABS recruitment processes

  • reviewing and updating the ABS’ intranet recruitment information to enable easier access and understanding for staff, and

  • strengthening partnerships with business areas across the ABS to enable improvements in recruitment services.

    For the future, new processes and systems can be expected to provide an environment that supports more informed decision making, through improved reporting capability and enhanced recruitment operations.

    GRADUATE RECRUITMENT

    Graduate recruitment forms a significant part of the ABS’ succession planning and entry level recruitment strategy. Recruitment to the ABS Graduate Program has become progressively more challenging, as competition increases.

    The ABS welcomed 84 graduates into the 2008 ABS Graduate Program.

    The 2009 graduate campaign is well underway, with successful applicants expected to commence with the ABS in January 2009. The ABS has implemented the following initiatives to improve the 2009 graduate recruitment campaign:

  • continued use of the ABS graduate employment brand

    The graduate employment brand depicts a vibrant, youthful and contemporary workplace, and communicates the message that the ABS offers a diversity of work and opportunity for people with a range of qualifications. This branding was used in national press and online advertising, and resulted in 1,135 completed applications for the 2009 ABS Graduate Program.

  • increased presence at university career fairs, which also contributed to the volume of applications for 2009

  • continued use of and improvements to the usability of the e-recruitment system, and

  • an increased focus on improvements to the selection process.

    This included a successful pilot 'Meet and Greet' session at Central and South Australia Offices in May 2008, aimed at engaging applicants with the ABS early in the recruitment process. During these sessions, applicants were addressed by former ABS graduates and participated in a group testing session. Interviews were scheduled shortly after this session.

     2008 ABS graduates welcome event

    2008 ABS graduates at the welcome event in January 2008.

    2008 ABS GRADUATES

    Here is what the 2008 ABS graduates have to say:

  • The ABS Graduate Program provides a good transition from university to the workplace. I find my work here in the ABS interesting as well as challenging, which is exactly what I was looking for in the career that I envisioned for myself. — Joe, Population, Labour, Industry and Environment Graduate.

  • Starting a new job can be a nerve wracking experience, but my anxiety quickly evaporated when I began the ABS graduate program. The training is comprehensive and I am able to apply what I learned at university to my day-to-day work. I have responsibility and independence, but also a great deal of support, which is ideal for a graduate position. — Jenny, Methodology and Data Management Division Graduate.

  • As a graduate fresh out of university, I have found myself surrounded by interesting work and people at the ABS. My confidence has grown and my professional skills have improved as I am continually challenged to learn more about the vast areas my team deals with. My role involves a high level of responsibility and independence, and my colleagues are more than happy to provide support. — Wolfgang, Macroeconomics and Integration Group Graduate.

  • My role combines the intellectual stimulation I loved about university with the responsibility and respect that comes when working with peers who are passionate about their contribution to quality social statistics. It is a good feeling to know that what you are working towards will affect policy and research and it is always fun to be one of the first that finds out how Australia is going. — Nikki, Social Statistics Group Graduate.

  • Since joining the ABS as a graduate, I have been able to take responsibility for a range of interesting and meaningful projects within Corporate Services. I have felt that my contributions have been well recognised by my colleagues and I have been made to feel valued during my rotations. It is satisfying to know that my work has positive impact on the rest of the organisation. — Anna, Corporate Services Division Graduate.


  • WORKFORCE PLANNING

    Continued emphasis was given to the strategic development of the ABS’ workforce. The ABS Workforce Planning Framework and Plan were developed during 2007–08. The ABS focus is to maintain and develop a skilled, motivated and flexible workforce, using development, renewal, deployment and retention strategies. The priorities identified in the workforce plan resulted from extensive consultation with employees. The framework considers the current and future workforce requirements, and takes into account known internal and external factors. This leads to a direction setting vision for people management within the ABS, culminating in three key workforce goals.


    Goal 1Ensure the ABS workforce remains skilled and competent
    Deploying a highly skilled workforce plays an essential role in ensuring the ABS has the capability to meet current and future demands. In order to employ the right number of people in the right places at the right time, the ABS must firstly understand, and secondly become responsive to, changes in its staffing profile.

    Goal 2Align workforce planning with other ABS planning activities
    Linking workforce planning with the agency’s financial and business planning activities (at different levels within the ABS) to ensure it has the capacity to more effectively understand and project its business requirements.

    Goal 3Realign ABS systems and processes
    Support for the repositioning of some operational human resource functions will require considerable investment by the ABS. Going forward, the ABS will focus on bringing its current systems into closer alignment with its business priorities, and continue to look for efficiencies in its operations.

    CONSULTATION IN THE ABS

    The ABS is committed to communication, cooperation and effective consultation with employees and, where they choose, their representatives, about matters that affect their workplace.

    The ABS consultative framework includes:

  • line managers, who are important conduits for communication and consultation in the workplace

  • 14 consultative forums, which provide employees with a mechanism to participate in deliberations and decision making processes on issues affecting their jobs and workplace

  • employee representatives meeting with management as necessary, and

  • an annual ABS National Forum, which includes participants from each consultative forum, management and employee organisations.

    The 2008 National Forum was held in March. The key topics of discussion were:

  • future directions for the ABS and the ABS budget situation

  • occupational health and safety

  • progress with ABS collective agreements

  • consultation in the ABS

  • ABS work patterns

  • national staff surveys

  • actions to address bullying and harassment, and

  • reducing ABS environmental impact.

      AGREEMENT MAKING

      The ABS has two collective agreements in place, which cover the majority of employees—the ABS Certified Agreement2006–2009 and the ABS Interviewers Certified Agreement 2005–2008. Both agreements were certified prior to the amendment of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 by the Workplace Relations Amendment (WorkChoices) Act 2005.

      In early 2008, consultation sessions were conducted to seek feedback on the issues to be considered for the next ABS Interviewers collective agreement. At the time of writing this report, the content of the agreement was being considered. In addition, preparatory work is underway to develop a new collective agreement for ABS office-based employees by early 2009.

      As required by Australian Government policy, Australian Workplace Agreements are no longer offered to employees. All current agreements will be progressively replaced over the next financial year.

      Details of the number of employees covered by a Certified Agreement, an AWA, or a determination as at 30 June 2008 are as follows:

      ABS employees covered by an Australian Workplace Agreement:

    • Senior Executive Service (SES)—45 (includes all SES, not just substantive, operative SES staff referred to in table 18.2)

    • Non-SES employees—32

    • ABS employees covered by the ABS Certified Agreement 2006–2009: 2947

    • ABS employees covered by the ABS Interviewers Certified Agreement 2005–2008: 620

      Table 18.3: Salary ranges by classification as at 30 June 2008(a)

      Classification
      Minimum ($)
      Maximum ($)
      Australian Public Service (APS) level
      APS1 (Adult)
      35,186
      38,706
      APS2
      39,823
      43,804
      APS
      45,355
      49,889
      APS4
      51,058
      56,162
      APS5
      56,949
      62,643
      APS6
      64,777
      71,254
      Executive Officer Level (EL)
      EL1
      79,277
      87,204
      EL2
      100,228
      110,250
      Senior Executive Service (SES) Level
      SES Band 1
      121,634
      149,062
      SES Band 2
      149,062
      180,180
      SES Band 3
      180,180
      na (b)

      (a) The APS1 to EL2 salary ranges took effect from 26 June 2008. SES Band 1 to SES Band 3 salary ranges took effect from 1 January 2008.
      (b) na – not applicable (as there is not a maximum level for this classification).

      PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT IN THE ABS

      The ABS understands that without access to the ideas and knowledge of its employees, capacity to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations, or to pursue innovative ideas, is limited.

      Therefore, to allow the ABS to meet the challenges of the future, a more proactive approach to performance management was introduced. To assist employees with the transition, a new style of performance agreement for use across all levels was implemented in May 2008. The new performance agreement was designed to:

    • clearly identify and measure the value-added personal contribution that employees bring to their roles over and above their responsibilities for delivering their section’s forward work program

    • facilitate performance discussions that focus on ‘how’ we achieve, not just ‘what’ we achieve, and

    • assist employees to identify personal and professional development opportunities.

      The new performance agreement provides an opportunity for all employees to think about the way they do things, as well as challenging them to demonstrate insight and thinking beyond current practice. This has never been more important, as the ABS looks for ways to reduce expenditure, increase business performance and identify productivity savings.

      THE ABS SALARY SYSTEM

      The ABS Certified Agreement 2006–2009 outlines the salary arrangements for ABS employees.

      In 2007–08, salary increases for APS1 to EL2 employees were paid from 28 June 2007, with two components to the salary increases:

      i. A general salary increase of 3.5% for all employees rated as Effective or better, where the minimum and maximum amounts of the salary ranges were increased by 3.5%, and

      ii. A performance based increase:

    • equivalent to a one pay point movement (2% of the minimum of the relevant salary range) for all employees rated as Effective or better, subject to the maximum of the salary range not being exceeded, and

    • for employees rated as Outstanding, a one-off lump sum payment of 2% of the minimum of the relevant salary range after the general salary increase was applied.

      During 2007–08, the total amount paid as one-off lump sum bonus payments was $437,541. It was paid to 329 employees.

      Table 18.4 shows the performance pay component of the salary increases paid in 2007–08, including pay point movements and bonus payments.

      Table 18.4: Performance pay by level

      Classification
      Number (a)
      Aggregate ($)
      Average ($)
      Australian Public Service (APS) level
      APS1
      7
      2,040
      291
      APS2
      27
      5,390
      200
      APS3
      310
      204,108
      658
      APS4
      544
      404,670
      744
      APS5
      534
      433,400
      812
      APS6
      763
      628,504
      824
      Executive Officer Level (EL)
      EL1
      504
      407,512
      809
      EL2
      170
      185,952
      1,094
      Senior Executive Service (SES) level
      SES1, SES2, SES3
      44
      111,023
      2,523
      Total
      2,903
      2,382,599
      (a) The number of staff represents all staff who received performance pay during 2007–08. As a result, the total number of staff in this table is different to the total number of staff as at 30 June 2008, shown in Table 18.1.

      REWARD AND RECOGNITION

      The ABS operates a Recognition and Reward Scheme, which recognises exceptional one-off achievements by individuals and work groups. Rewards may be made in the form of certificates, hospitality (such as work group lunches), prepaid vouchers and cash bonuses. Total ABS expenditure for the scheme in 2007–08 was $78,498.45.

      LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT

      Statistical, personal leadership and management and information technology training activities across the ABS are designed to enhance organisational capabilities, ensuring the ABS can respond to business challenges. Staff training attendance over the past 12 months has decreased from an average of 4.4 training days in 2006–07 to 3.6 days in 2007–08 (see table 18.5). The increase in average training days in 2005–06 primarily reflects the additional training associated with the 2006 Census.

      The ABS has continued to invest in its development of managers and leaders for the future, with the delivery of the ABS Leadership Program during February–June 2008. This program was targeted to EL2 – SESB1, and included two participants from Statistics New Zealand.

      To supplement the suite of manager/leadership development programs offered on the 2007–08 national training calendar, specific modules were developed and delivered for managers wishing to update and refresh their skills. These included modules such as Introduction to Policy Departments, Leading Teams and Emotional Intelligence for Managers. This approach will be continued into next year, with a series of sessions for line managers envisaged to raise awareness of the breadth of their responsibilities and resources available to them.

      Table 18.5: ABS staff training (a)

      Total ABS Operative Staff (b)
      Attendance Days
      Average Training Days
      2003–04
      2,800
      10,431
      3.7
      2004–05
      2,630
      12,562
      4.8
      2005–06
      2,865
      16,163 (c)
      5.6
      2006–07
      3,065
      13,491 (c)(d)
      4.4
      2007–08
      2,733
      9,907
      3.6
      (a) Excludes on-the-job training.
      (b) Comprises full time and part time staff at their full time equivalent.
      (c) Figures revised down since first published, as more accurate information has since become available.
      (d) Excludes Census Data Processing Centre Training.

      The Organisational, People and Learning System (OPALS) is now well established, with about 60% of ABS employees having completed their capability profile. The information collated in this system is now being used by divisions and regions to determine training needs and develop staff utilisation strategies. A review of OPALS was conducted in 2007–08 to assess the impact of limitations in reporting capability within the system. This review involved discussions with focus groups in central and regional offices, as well as a questionnaire available to all employees. The review is expected to be finalised early in 2008–09.

      The ABS is committed to providing opportunities for all employees to develop and enhance their skills and qualifications, to meet current and future skill requirements in line with corporate goals and individual career development. As part of this commitment, the Study Support Program offers paid study leave and financial assistance to approved students. Since reintroduction in January 2006, the Study Support Program has received in excess of 480 applications. A review of the Study Support guidelines was completed in December 2007, with changes made to the layout, making information easier to access and understand. An internal review of the program is in progress, with results due to be released to employees in late 2008.

      Statistical skills continue to be further developed through the National Statistical Training Institute, established to provide a cohesive, statistical skills development program for ABS employees, as well as programs conducted in partnership with a number of universities, including the Australian National University, the University of Wollongong, the University of Queensland and Adelaide University. In addition, negotiations are underway to further strengthen ties with the universities, to provide greater access to statistical and mathematical courses for ABS officers. A strategy for increasing the coordination of, and capacity for, delivering statistical training to external clients and partners is being developed to support statistical leadership goals (more information on the National Statistical Training Institute can be found in, Chapter 9, Engagement with users and producers of statistics).

      OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

      The ABS is committed to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace and meeting its responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (OH&S Act) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act). The ABS continues to honour its commitments under the ABS Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Policy and Agreement. This provides a framework for OH&S in the ABS and, under a statement of commitment with Comcare, aims to significantly improve OH&S outcomes by 2012.

      A dedicated section in the ABS central office, complemented by representatives in all regional offices, ensures the requirements of the OH&S Act and the SRC Act are met. A network of OH&S committees is the vehicle for consultation on OH&S issues affecting employees. Following recent changes to the OH&S Act, the ABS has developed, and is about to consult with employees on, revised Health and Safety Management Arrangements, which are scheduled for implementation in late 2008.

      During 2007–08, 62 employees were selected or elected as Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) under the OH&S Act, with 24 receiving training during the year. There were 10 notifiable accidents/dangerous occurrences reported by the ABS, to Comcare in 2007–08. Notifiable accidents/dangerous occurrences may or may not be investigated by Comcare (see below).

      INVESTIGATIONS

      During 2007–08, no Comcare OH&S investigations were undertaken in the ABS and no Provisional Improvement Notices, Improvement Notices or Prohibition Notices were issued.

      WORKPLACE INJURIES AND ILLNESS

      The ABS continued to invest in a risk management approach to the prevention of work-related illness and injuries. Key features of this approach included:

    • the annual national hazards inspection program, which involves OH&S inspections of all ABS workplaces

    • increased employee awareness and compliance reporting of hazards in the workplace

    • investigations of accident, incidents and near misses in the workplace, and

    • immediate preventative interventions to address pain, discomfort or other signs of potential injury reported by employees.

      A comparison of workers’ compensation claims for the periods 2003–04 to 2007–08 is detailed in table 18.6.

      Table 18.6: ABS Premium Group Claims Incidence (number)

      Financial Year
      Number of Claims
      2003–04
      114
      2004–05
      100
      2005–06
      94
      2006–07(a)
      220
      2007–08
      29
      Data Source: Comcare Customer Information Service
      (a) The increased incidence of claims in 2006–07 is largely due to 113 claims resulting from the 2006 Census enumeration.

      The Australian Statistician, Brian Pink, and members of the ABS Executive help to raise $4,205.25 for Breast Cancer Awareness in October 2007.

      The Australian Statistician, Brian Pink, and members of the ABS Executive help to raise $4,205.25 for Breast Cancer Awareness in October 2007.

      REHABILITATION

      The ABS implements early intervention and rehabilitation in both compensable and non-compensable cases. Training for five ABS rehabilitation case managers and OH&S Coordinators was provided during the year, to enhance ABS rehabilitation performance. Training for managers has been improved through the upgrading of OH&S modules of ABS management courses.

      COMCARE PREMIUM

      Comcare provided notification that the ABS’ premium rate for 2008–09 has been set at 1.42% of total salary (including GST). The details of the ABS and the agency pool average premium rates are contained in Table 18.7.

      Table 18.7: Comcare workers’ compensation premium rate (% of wage and salary expenditure)

      2003–04
      2004–05
      2005–06
      2006–07
      2007–08
      2008–09
      ABS
      1.33
      1.78
      1.43
      1.30
      1.69
      1.42
      All agencies combined average
      1.43
      1.67
      1.77
      1.77
      1.55
      1.36

      ACHIEVEMENTS

      Measures taken to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees during 2007–08 included:

    • ongoing review and development of the ABS' OH&S policy framework based on risk management principles

    • education and awareness of employees and managers on their OH&S responsibilities, preventing injuries and OH&S risk management

    • the conduct of the third annual National Hazard Inspection Program resulted in greater awareness by employees and managers of their OH&S roles and responsibilities, identified major hazards and enabled risk mitigation strategies to be effectively implemented

    • the use and continual improvement of systems to promote early intervention and improve the management of rehabilitation in the ABS

    • implementation of recent legislative changes in the OH&S Act and SRC Act into ABS business practices and processes, and

    • the on-going implementation of the ABS National Health Promotion Program, which is aimed at reinforcing broader community health messages targeted at the National Health Priority area risk factors of:

      • asthma

      • cardiovascular health

      • mental health

      • arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions

      • obesity, and

      • diabetes.

      ABS NATIONAL HEALTH PROMOTION PROGRAM

      During 2007-08, the ABS developed and implemented a National Health Promotion Calendar and facilitated National Health and Safety Month during October 2007, with 1,423 (40%) employees participating nationally in many health seminars, activities and events.

      Other events during the year included seminars on mental health, healthy sleep and men’s health, as well as the provision of cardiovascular disease information.

      A national flu vaccination program was conducted in April 2008, with 636 (17%) employees participating.





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