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Appendix E — Staff engagement and performance strategies

This appendix sets out the ANAO’s strategies for recruiting and retaining staff, and building a productive and supportive workplace that encourages and engages its employees.

Recruitment and retention

The ANAO has a number of programs and strategies to ensure that we recruit and retain high-performing staff.

Graduate program

The ANAO’s graduate program is open to university students who are completing their final year of study or have completed a degree within the past seven years. During the 12-month program, graduates undertake a robust development program, consisting of technical and professional training.

In 2019, the ANAO’s graduate program included 18 graduates: 10 in the Assurance Audit Services Group, six in the Performance Audit Services Group, one in the Systems Assurance and Data Analytics Group, and one in the Corporate Management Group.

Intern program

The ANAO’s intern program provides paid casual work experience for Canberra university students who are currently completing an undergraduate degree in a relevant field of study. During 2019–20, seven students participated in the ANAO intern program. The ANAO continued to foster productive relationships with the Australian National University, the University of Canberra, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and CPA Australia to recruit students for the program.

Supporting high performance

During 2019–20, the ANAO supported 149 staff members to undertake qualifications and tertiary education, including programs offered by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, CPA Australia and ISACA (the professional association for IT audit specialists). The ANAO also invested in a diverse range of programs to build capabilities, including coaching, technical workshops, wellbeing and communication skills. The year saw a stronger focus on increasing soft skills throughout the ANAO.

The ANAO’s learning and development program supports staff to meet continuous professional development requirements relating to their membership of professional accounting associations. This includes:

  • support to complete 120 hours of continuous professional development over a three-year period, with a minimum of 20 hours to be completed each financial year. This includes 10 hours of formal technical training in relevant areas such as financial statements auditing, accounting or legal frameworks;
  • a written declaration that relevant staff have complied with the continuous professional development requirements for each financial year; and
  • evaluation of training undertaken by staff against the learning and development curriculum.

The ANAO recognises and rewards individual staff and teams who make a significant contribution to achieving its business objectives in areas such as client service, people management, business management, audit management and innovation. The recognition and awards system comprises formal ANAO awards (Auditor-General’s Australia Day Awards, outstanding achievement awards, professional development awards, and certificates of appreciation) and formal external awards (the Public Service Medal, Institute of Public Administration Australia awards, and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand – Leadership in Government Awards).

In 2019–20, the ANAO’s studies assistance program was reviewed and streamlined.

Talent management program

A renewed approach to talent management is in the process of implementation following the success of pilot programs in 2017 and 2018.

The 2020–21 talent management program will offer the following opportunities to participants:

  • keynote speakers;
  • leadership development opportunities;
  • group coaching sessions;
  • strategic projects;
  • mentoring junior staff members; and
  • shadow boards.

An evaluation of the program will occur in early 2021 with a view to renewing the ANAO’s approach to talent management.

Staff engagement

The ANAO is committed to building a productive and supportive workplace that encourages and engages its employees. Each year, the ANAO participates in the Australian Public Service employee census. The 2019 census achieved an ANAO staff response rate of 76 per cent. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the 2020 census has been delayed and we are unable to report on response rates.

The ANAO organises regular internal events that aim to foster a culture of engagement and information sharing for all staff. Events raise awareness of ANAO priorities and contribute to the professional and personal development of staff. ‘Town hall’ events inform staff of current organisational priorities, future directions and relevant developments. The purpose is to create a sense of cohesion across the organisation and to recognise staff contributions and achievements. Three ‘town hall’ events were held in 2019–20.

The ANAO’s Leaders Speaking program is a key professional and development opportunity that provides ANAO staff with exposure to a variety of professionals from industries and sectors outside of auditing. Topics and areas of focus are broadly based on leadership, management, innovation, change, performance and professional development. The program is well attended and contributes to culture building. It equips staff with insights and learnings that complement their technical training and development. Two Leaders Speaking events were held in 2019–20 and featured Mr Noel Pearson and Dr Simon Longstaff.

Health and wellbeing initiatives

The ANAO is committed to promoting the health and wellbeing of its staff. The ANAO recognises that work-based health and wellbeing programs positively contribute to morale, resilience and productivity by reducing workforce absence, illness and workplace injury. The ANAO participates in the Australian Public Service Commission’s benchmarking on unscheduled absences across the Australian Public Service (APS), which can provide information on staff wellbeing. The most recent report received, covering the period 1 July 2019 to 31 March 2020 shows the ANAO’s unscheduled absence rate at 6.2 days compared to the APS average of 6.8 days.

By informing, enabling and supporting staff to make healthy choices, the ANAO is contributing to the overall health and wellbeing of its social community. During 2019–20, programs that were promoted include:

  • diversity contact officers;
  • the Reasonable Adjustment Passport for employees with an illness, injury or disability;
  • the Employee Assistance Program;
  • the Mental Health Guru online employee induction program;
  • an online mental health toolkit;
  • COVID-19 pastoral care check-ins;
  • flu vaccinations;
  • annual health checks; and
  • mental health first aid officers.