Exclusive: A new system of assessing and matching departmental staff whose roles are affected by large-scale reform could help avoid mass redundancies.
The advent of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in 2016 significantly changed the roles of thousands of NSW Department of Family and Community Services staff, meaning a hefty cost in the form of redundancies and support services, as well as upheaval and uncertainty for staff.
With the NSW Public Service Commission having introduced the Government Sector Employment Act a few years earlier, which emphasised mobility in the public sector, the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet appointed management and workforce consultancy INS to develop a “proactive employment approach to restructure.”
The result has seen 373 employees secure a comparable role in a different agency, and hundreds of others provided with recruitment support.
By the time it concluded in June the project had achieved $33.7 million in savings to the NSW Government in redundancy and recruitment costs, according to INS chief executive Sophia Symeou.
Using the NSW Government’s existing public sector capability framework as the common ground to benchmark jobs against, the project developed a “mobility talent pool” of affected staff seeking roles in other agencies.
“We used the capability framework to assess people and move them to other government agencies, so those departments can feel comfortable they’re getting people who have the right skills and qualifications,” Ms Symeou told Government News.
The project developed more than 100 different “meaningful and practical” work-based assessments to assess people according to the NSW capabilities framework, she said.
Over the life of the project, which began placing staff in February last year, some 28 different agencies sourced pre-assessed and work-ready staff more quickly and cost-effectively than the public sector average, she said.
“We placed people in an average of 27 days, far quicker than the average recruitment process in the NSW public sector which is 46 days,” Ms Symeou said.
The mobility pathway process worked in three ways:
- Vacancies across the public sector were entered into a system and matched with potential candidates according to factors including skills, qualifications, location and salary. Potential matches were followed up by a career placement officer who discussed the job vacancy with the staff member and the hiring agency.
- The project had a list of de-identified staff detailing a summary of their skills and experience, which was sent regularly to agencies for current and future job vacancies.
- The project team met with human resources and recruitment directors to determine their current and future recruitment needs, and any staff on the list who might match them.
“We did this in multiple ways,” says Ms Symeou. “This was completely new; it’d never been done before so it was a bit of a learning process for us. The challenge now for the NSW Government is to adopt this as a model in placement of large-scale redundancies when you have these major reforms impacting.”
In total the project team worked with some 1,500 staff; 763 people came through the mobility pathway while the other half received resume, interview and other recruitment support, Ms Symeou said.
“The idea was we would get people about six months before their roles ceased to be required, so it was a moveable feast. Some people were going to be affected but they might be required for the next 12 months.”
Ms Symeou praised the collaborative efforts of the various agencies involved, which included the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the NSW Public Service Commission, FACS, and NSW industrial relations and human resource directors from across the state.
“One of the exciting things about this project was seeing these central agencies working together on such a big project. Treasury and DPC in particular were so passionate about the project and they put their money where their mouth was in terms of support.”
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