How can the APS invest back into capability and talent management?

Outdated HR processes, ad-hoc workforce planning, skills gaps and a lack of focus on people assets have been recognised as barriers to creating what Prime Minister Scott Morrison has described a public service workforce with a “laser-like focus” on citizens, writes KRIS GRANT.

Kris Grant

After months of discussion and 755 submissions, the final report of the independent review of the Australian Public Service (APS) was submitted in September. It is the largest major review of its kind in 40 years, and one of the key priorities for change outlined by the panel includes the continued investment into capability and talent management.

Outdated HR processes, ad-hoc workforce planning, skills gaps and a lack of focus on people assets have been recognised as barriers to creating what Prime Minister Scott Morrison has described a public service workforce with a “laser-like focus” on citizens. These trends aren’t just affecting the public service, they’re also apparent across industries in the private sector, as businesses scramble to transform and keep up with evolving work environments.

So how can the APS, along with other organisations invest in capability and talent management to retain and leverage their current workforce in an increasingly complex and technology driven environment?

Integrate HR and L&D into the business strategy

In many organisations, human resources (HR) and leadership and development (L&D) operate separately to the C-level, but to achieve success in any industry, these departments need to move from a process function to more of a strategic partner, driving people outcomes.

This is increasingly important in the current climate of technological change, forcing organisations across both the private and public sectors to transform to keep up and leverage new technologies.

Harvard Business Publishing’s 2018 State of Leadership Report showed only 50 per cent of managers consider leadership development as a significant part of reaching organisational transformation plans. But those who see leadership development as crucial to the process are 29 times more likely to have a successful transformation than those who don’t view this as a key factor.

Although financial goals are often prioritised in these strategies, working closely with HR and L&D team to ensure you have the talent required to achieve the goals is equally important.

Investment in training and mentoring 

A key consideration during the APS review was the finding that a lack of career development and progression is the primary reason stated by people leaving the APS. In recent years employees have started taking a more active approach to their own professional development. In fact, research has found more than 80 per cent of employees would quit their jobs for better development opportunities, making it more important than ever to invest in training and mentorship to retain top talent.

A key driver for these changes is the increasingly younger workforce – millennials make up almost half of Australia’s workforce. They prefer flexible work options, prioritise training and development, and are staying in jobs for shorter periods than their older counterparts. So, investing in employee development through training and mentoring is an investment in your current talent, as well as attracting new talent.

Presenteeism should be discouraged

One of the most encouraged behaviours I’ve seen currently in the APS is the issue of presenteeism – when employees come to work through illness or other conditions that affect their performance. Unfortunately we still have a culture where people feel pressured to come to the office when they’re sick, because it makes you appear more dedicated.

Not only does this behaviour stop workers from getting the rest they need to recover, it’s also costly to the organisation. Research has found that presenteeism can cut an employee’s performance by a third or more, and can sometimes be invisible. Unlike when someone calls in sick, you can’t always tell when someone is unwell if they’re at work.

Sick employees aren’t just less effective, they also pose other risks including; spreading their sickness in the workplace, increased chance of accidents, and a reduced level of customer service. Discouraging presenteeism creates a healthier workplace where employees feel comfortable talking to managers, taking time off and feeling valued.

Fearless leadership should be encouraged 

In the government, along with older private companies, a traditional, hierarchical model of leadership is still prevalent. In contrast, we’re seeing millennial-run start ups and global corporations like Google embracing a brave and courageous style of leadership. Aristotle called courage the first virtue because it makes all other virtues possible.

These organisations realise that fearless leaders are the ones who have the strongest vision, and the ones who will inspire and motivate their teams the most. Fearless leadership means being bold enough to challenge the status quo, and in turn create revolutionary changes. The financial crisis in 2007-2008 showed how the arrogant and self-centred actions of leaders led to the failure of their organisations. Fearless leaders put the organisation and the team first, strengthening employees’ commitment to the company’s mission.

*Kris Grant is CEO of ASPL Recruitment and Consulting

Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at  

Sign up to the Government News newsletter

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required