Australian Federal Leadership & Employee Engagement Troubles — Use Talent Analytics to Fix



To those of us that follow the U.S. and Australian federal workforces, the news of the near-crisis that is employee engagement in the United States is not new. And it is heartening to know that there are no such dire numbers regarding the Australian federal workforce. In the U.S., the overall view is pretty much accepted – employee morale for its federal workers is bad. No sugar coating it. For Australia, it‘s not nearly as bad. However, there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Here are some interesting numbers from an employee census from the Australian Public Service (APS):

  • Just over 60% of federal employees would recommend their agency as a good place to work
  • Less than 50% of federal employees feel their agency inspires them to do their best in their jobs
  • Less than 50% of federal employees feel their agency motivates them to help the agency achieve its objectives
  • Less than 60% of federal employees feel a strong personal attachment to their agency.

These numbers are not nearly as bad as the numbers for the U.S., but there’s plenty of room for improvement. If I were a human capital leader for an Australian federal agency, I would definitely be concerned.

More than 50% of your workers are likely not doing their best! More than 50% don’t feel their motivated to help their agencies achieve their objectives!

These are red alarms.

I believe it’s not too dramatic to call the situation a near crisis. We have a federal retirement tsunami looming, a new huge potential market of potential employees (millennials) who are avoiding the government and a large existing workforce that has poor morale and little faith in its leaders.

If this was a private sector company, stockholders and other stakeholders would be screaming for change!

In the United States, the even-worse numbers led President Obama to recently state that he wants accountability along with measurement to better understand what is and is not happening in terms of employee engagement and leadership.

Makes sense – how can you know whether or not you are improving if you don’t measure?

We need it in Australia too. Accountability – and accompanying data — can lead you to better engagement.

And that will lead to what he wants: federal agencies “doing a better job of engaging employees.”

You can’t just put out a memo and say “go be better leaders” or “go engage your employees,” etc. It’s a start, but it’s not going to get you the visibility and accountability you need.

Jack Welsh would never have uttered those words to his well-trained GE managers and left it at that. He needed to know what was working and what was not. Which teams, which managers, which policies.

Here’s just a small sample of what data and talent analytics can show:

  • Which managers have the most engaged employees and which have the least engaged employees?
  • What amount of manager-employee interaction is best for employee morale?
  • How often are employees receiving feedback from their managers and how is this impacting the employees’ morale and performance?
  • How can agency, team and individual goals be best aligned to improve employee engagement and morale?
  • Why do some teams and agencies have better employee engagement and better morale?
  • Which agencies’ employees like the work they are doing the most?
  • Do some agencies’ employees think they are doing important work more than other agencies’ employees?
  • Do employees like their co-workers?

The number of questions that can be answered by analytics is virtually endless. And the answers can provide the necessary insight to help direct an agency to pay more or less attention to particular areas that can have the highest or most immediate impact.

The data continues to pour in — federal leadership and employee engagement are in trouble – in Australia and within other federal governments around the world.

Good news — the data can show agencies the way out of their troubles.

What do you think about Australian federal employee engagement?



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