People matter for local government

People Matter is an employee perception survey conducted by the University of Technology Sydney’s Centre for Local Government (UTS CLG). It is regularly conducted across state government public sectors and provides important information and insights for departments, organisations and sector stakeholders on workplace experiences and employee engagement.

Local government makes up almost 10% of the total public sector workforce in Australia. This research utilises a tailored version People Matter survey tool to gain feedback on employee experiences and perceptions of working in the local government sector.

Approximately 1,500 NSW local government employees responded to the anonymous survey from an estimated fifteen local government areas between December 2016 and April 2017. Research findings include the following from the local government employees who responded to the survey:

  • There is a strong understanding of what is expected from them of in terms of their role (86%) and respondents are highly enthusiastic when it comes to look for ways to perform their job better (95%). Employees who responded have a strong appreciation (87%) of how their position contributes to positive outcomes for their council and community.
  • While wellbeing is mostly perceived positively, unacceptable workloads (19%) and detrimental work stress (15%) is reported. A third of the respondents rate work-life balance as less than good.
  • There are positive perceptions of how their immediate workgroup or team works together (70%). There are some negative perceptions (14%) when it comes to rating ‘team spirit’.
  • In terms of performance and development, employees who responded are able to have open and honest conversation with their supervisors about the quality of work required (70%), although a proportion (39%) do not have a current performance plan that sets out objectives. There is a strong desire for career advancement (65%); however, there is dissatisfaction with opportunities for career progression or the merit system within their organisation (30%). Managing underperformance was one area that a significant proportion of respondents perceived in a negative light (27%).
  • There are mostly positive perceptions of managers with many managers being seen to encourage employee input (73%). However, a smaller number of managers are seen to consider this input when making decisions in the organisation (58%). Less than half of the respondents have positive perceptions of council senior managers. Demonstrating collaboration and leading change are perceived as being areas for improvement for senior executive teams.
  • Council organisations are rated well when it comes to understanding and building relationships with communities (79%). Whilst a large proportion of the respondents agree that councils are making the necessary improvements to meet challenges of the future (65%), a quarter perceives that change is not handled well. Most of the employees who responded (67%) would recommend their organisation as a great place to work.
  • The majority of respondents (85%) can see how diversity and inclusion in the workplace contributes to better business outcomes and feel able to voice different views to their managers and colleagues (70%). Gender and age are seen as a barrier to success within some of the respondents’ council organisations (8%-12%).

Download the report: People Matter for Local Government: Pilot NSW Survey, University of Technology Sydney.

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