Go to top of page

ABS cultural change programs

The ABS is a trusted, highly respected and capable national statistical organisation. Our people rise to challenges, demonstrate high standards of professionalism and technical expertise, and maintain the ABS’s reputation for excellence. The ABS also has a supportive workplace culture that we strive to retain.

Being high performing not only relies on embracing new technology and ways of working, but also taking deliberate steps to continue to engage, empower and motivate our people.

While drawing upon the positive aspects of the ABS culture, we also need to respond to the emerging information needs of our customers, changing expectations of partners and data providers, and the increased volume, complexity and pace that characterise the world of data we now must navigate to retain our influence and achieve our purpose.

The ABS transformation goals explicitly include People and Culture. It is our aspiration to “have a highly diverse, expert, motivated and agile workforce” that is ”high performing, aligned, engaged, innovative and accountable”.

In 2017–18 the Australian Statistician drove leader-led culture change through a range of elements and activities, strengthening several high performance behaviours identified in benchmark organisational culture research undertaken the previous year. These activities included:

  • the adoption of a practical definition of “culture”
  • the development of a statement of cultural intent, “ABS: Our Culture 2018–21”
  • leadership coaching for SES to understand each individual’s impact on organisational culture and support new behaviours to lead culture change
  • divisional culture action sessions with staff to identify and act on data-driven local culture change initiatives
  • the first ever SES/Director leadership summit, with a theme of customers, problemsolving and accountability
  • identification of existing successful high performance manager and team leader routines used in the ABS, to be shared and embraced by all
  • embedding of high performance behaviours, aligned with our cultural aspirations, in the ABS’s new job design model.

Leaders have particular responsibility to demonstrate and encourage behaviour that reinforces our cultural i\ntent at all times. ABS SES officers and Directors have committed to uphold this responsibility and embody behaviours that lead to high performance in individuals and teams. The success of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is due in large part to the embodiment of customer-focused, collaborative, accountable, agile and innovative behaviours across our project team.

ABS culture will continue to develop and respond to findings of recent external reviews and feedback from our staff, stakeholders and customers.

Evaluation of the ABS culture change program’s effectiveness will occur in 2018–19 using results from the 2018 APS Employee Census and other measures.