Improving staff relations
In 2015–16, the Audit Office worked with employee representatives and the Public Service Association (PSA) to improve the existing Crown Employees (Audit Office) Award 2015 and ensure it reflects current practices, processes and policies.
We undertook an extensive collaboration process between the Audit Office, our staff and the PSA to focus on three key areas: flexible work practices, leave and remuneration.
The result of this collaboration is a more modern industrial instrument that provides our staff with much greater flexibility. In particular, our flex leave system has been overhauled with far fewer restrictions. Our new Award will ensure we can continue to attract and retain the talent we need to fulfil our mandate now and into the future. See the case study here for further details.
Our ‘People and Culture’ strategic goal area remains a key priority for our strategic plan and branch business plans. We expect to see improvements in a number of areas by:
- embedding the changes from the new Audit Office Award
- developing and implementing an inclusion and accessibility framework in line with whole-of-government strategy to improve engagement and the way we work together
- developing a workforce plan that ensures we deliver value through the right skills, resources and structure.
Improving the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the Audit Office is important to our ongoing commitment to equity and diversity. In 2016–17, the Auditor-General has committed to making it a high organisational priority to improve our representation in this area. We will also focus on the representation of women in our workforce given the slight slip in numbers this year.
See here for further details on our strategic goal areas.
Staff turnover improved and our brand remains strong
Our strong brand, excellent reputation and opportunities for personal and career development has enabled the Audit Office to continuously attract high quality staff. This has positively impacted our ability to sustain a regular supply of specialist talent and our capacity to meet client demands.
In 2015–16, our staff turnover decreased from 24 to 18 per cent. Feedback gathered in exit surveys reveals staff:
- felt important issues could be communicated better and more regularly
- enjoyed the work and felt confident that if they performed well that they would be assured of employment
- were happy with the quality of training, but would have liked opportunities to move to or perform at a higher level
- felt their manager listened to them and valued their input
- felt providing more constructive feedback on performance would be good
- believe the Audit Office was a friendly place to work but morale needed to be higher
- felt that they did not have enough time and resourcing to complete their work.
The majority of exiting staff have moved into the private sector. Significantly, nearly 90 per cent of staff would return to the Audit Office if an opportunity arose.
The number of full-time staff at 30 June 2016 was 273, up from 249 last year. This increase is largely a timing issue as we brought forward our work to meet earlier financial audit close deadlines and supplemented our staff with short-term contractors.
In March 2016, we began our graduate recruitment process for 2017. We worked to ensure our ongoing alliance with professional accounting bodies and universities by attending career events and engaging in other recruitment activity. We shortlisted and interviewed 62 candidates from the 447 applications received, and offered a four-year fixed-term contract to 24 candidates, down on last year’s 26.
Equity and diversity
At the Audit Office we are committed to ensuring we have a diverse workplace that reflects our constantly changing external workforce and client base. We recognise that by embracing the different contributions, perspectives and talents that make up our organisation we create a culture of participation, contribution and respect.
The number of women as a percentage of the total workforce has reduced slightly to 49 per cent. The representation of women in middle management has also decreased slightly, to 52 per cent from the previous 54 per cent. The Audit Office has an ongoing commitment to supporting the growth and development of talented women in the organisation. Although the percentage of women in the executive and senior leadership positions has also decreased from 45 to 42 per cent in the last twelve months, given the size of our organisation, all these percentage decreases represent only one or two positions at most. We now also have a female Auditor-General for the first time in our history.
Staff at the Audit Office come from 39 countries and speak 26 languages. In 2015–16, we celebrated many cultural festivals such as Diwali, Eid-ul-Adh, Lunar New Year, Harmony Day, International Women’s Day, Australia Day and Remembrance Day. These celebrations help us recognise the diversity of our workplace and encourage our staff to learn more about other cultures.
In 2015–16, we introduced a compulsory Respect and Diversity online learning module for all employees. The module includes detailed information on respect, diversity and inclusion, as well as our zero-tolerance approach to harassment, bullying and discrimination.
For more information on equal employment opportunity groups and their distribution, see Appendix Six.
Supporting our staff
The health and wellbeing of our staff remains a strong focus for the Audit Office. In 2015–16, several staff used our Employee Assistance Program, which includes independent, confidential counselling services for staff and their immediate families. We continued to provide assorted fruit every day to promote healthier eating, and provide free flu vaccinations to all staff.
We also continue to offer flexible working arrangements. Employees can have a flexible approach to working hours that help them manage fluctuating workloads and achieve work-life balance. Such flexible arrangements include working from home, a compressed working week, term working, job share and career breaks.
In 2015–16, we provided support to those competing in the Corporate Cup running competition and we introduced a second running team to further commit to our healthy workforce culture. We also maintained our corporate partnership with a local gym, providing low-cost memberships to our staff.
Recognising our staff
We know from our annual staff survey that being recognised is highly valued. In light of this, we have a formal Recognition Program called ‘The Audies’. The Audies has two nomination periods per year for both individuals and teams. Staff and teams are nominated based on how they have contributed to our vision of ‘Making a difference through audit excellence’. In 2015–16, we received a total of 55 individual and seven team nominations. There were ten individual award winners, and one team winner, with all recipients announced at our July and November staff Office Forums.
The recreation club, known as the ReClub, is a social organisation run by staff, for staff. Approximately 64 per cent of staff are members of the ReClub, a rise from last year's 57 per cent. Reasons for this increase included high participation from incoming staff, especially new graduates. The club is fully funded by staff and run by a representative committee. The ReClub is responsible for organising a number of the Audit Office’s key annual and regular events including the Annual Dinner, the Christmas Party and numerous happy hours. Additionally in 2015–16, the ReClub organised:
- Launchies – a welcome event for new graduates joining the Audit Office that sold out in 2016 due to high demand
- Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea annual bake-off – our tenth participation which raised almost $800 for the Cancer Council, a record for the ReClub and well beyond the initial $500 target
- Futsal – our fiercely competitive indoor soccer competition which this year included six teams with 60 players
- 10,000 steps challenge – a health event challenging staff to walk 10,000 steps per day, with almost every business team across the Audit Office entering a team.
The ReClub has also expanded its focus towards charitable and social engagements. Members will be taking part in the City of Sydney’s bi-annual street count to help collect information about the number of homeless people sleeping in the Sydney CBD.
The Reclub is an integral part of our culture, with fun activities and a chance for staff to network with colleagues they may not usually see on a daily basis.
Our 2015 ReClub Committee, at our Annual Dinner, October 2015.
Some of our staff celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights, November 2015.