Public sector survey shows signs of improvement, but still more work to be done

A state-wide survey of SA’s public sector workforce has revealed a strong level of workplace pride, motivation and employee wellbeing.

The majority of the almost 40,000 respondents were also pleased with the support provided to them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, it shows there is still more work to be done in some areas, including employees’ stress levels, their feeling of safety in being able to speak up and challenge the way things are done, as well as their belief that action will be taken in response to the survey results.

The I WORK FOR SA – Your Voice survey, which seeks insights from employees about their experiences at work, is the second conducted since 2018 as a result of funding provided by the Marshall Liberal Government.

It also found that, despite a record response rate this year (up from 22 per cent to 36 per cent, or an extra 15,347 employees), there were fewer reports of people either witnessing or experiencing bullying and harassment (down 8 and 4 percentage points, respectively).

Nevertheless, 29 per cent of respondents reported having witnessed bullying and harassment, while 17 per cent said they had experienced it.

Other key findings include:

  • 85% of respondents say they are happy to go the ‘extra mile’ at work, when required;
  • 80% believe strongly in the purpose and objectives of their agency;
  • 88% understand what is expected of them to do well in their role;
  • However, 33% believe action will be taken on the results from the survey;
  • 32% think it is safe to speak up and challenge the way things are done in their agency; and’
  • 36% feel the level of stress in their job is appropriate.

Treasurer Rob Lucas welcomed the overall results of the survey, noting there was still room for improvement in some areas.

“We value the significant contribution of our public sector workers in helping improve the daily lives of all South Australians and this survey provides us with valuable insights to ensure they continue to be well-supported and have their voices heard,” said Mr Lucas.

“Under the Marshall Liberal Government, the Office of the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment was given the funding to conduct for the first time the I WORK FOR SA – Your Voice survey, seeking insights from all public sector employees about their experiences at work.

“This is in direct contrast to the former Labor government, which did not provide any funding for the survey despite it being requested by the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment.

“We welcome the positive responses in the areas of engagement, employee wellbeing and motivation and an increased response rate of more than 15,000 employees this year.

“And while reports of bullying and harassment have reduced, we recognise there is still more work to be done in this area, with some respondents saying they had either witnessed (29 per cent) or experienced (17 per cent) it.

“The sector-wide results indicate the ongoing success of initiatives put into place following the inaugural survey, including the peer support program and the SA Public Sector Mentally Healthy Workplaces Framework which are having a positive impact in building a positive culture of care and helping the sector to perform at its best.”

The Peer Support Program can assist employees feel safe and supported. Agencies are encouraged to appoint Peer Support Officers, who undergo training, including Mental Health First Aid. Peer Support Officers provide informal support to employees, including discussing mental health concerns, managing difficult situations in the workplace and options for seeking help from external professionals such as Employee Assistance Programs.

The Mentally Healthy Workplaces Toolkit provides an important foundation for agencies to use to educate staff about what constitutes a mentally healthy workplace, how to create positive cultures that support wellbeing and where and how to seek help for their mental health.

Further details of the Mentally Healthy Workplaces Toolkit here.

To access the survey results: https://www.publicsector.sa.gov.au/about/Our-Work/I-Work-For-SA-Your-Voice-Survey

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