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Management of people

Austrade’s organisational capability assessment in 2017–18 and international network review in 2018 informed the priorities for our human resource management and continue to direct the modernisation of our human resource practices.

Austrade reviewed its human resource management in early 2019 and designed a complete restructure that was implemented in July 2019. The restructured Human Resources Branch was rebranded as the People Branch. The branch reorganised around services teams and centres of excellence, which mirrors Austrade’s approach of targeted and universal client services.

The aim of the change was to drive consistency of advice and more efficient management of simpler queries. The people services team has responded to over 6,000 enquiry tickets since the new system was instigated, with a first- contact resolution rate of 70 per cent, demonstrating the efficiency of the system.

Austrade has developed a business partner model to improve how the People Branch works with business areas to ensure structure and workforce composition align with strategic directions. The team will support business areas to make better resource deployment decisions and improve talent identification.

Austrade’s people management highlights for 2019–20 included:

  • continued implementation of the diversity and inclusion strategy
  • implementing Respectful Workplace Behaviour training for Senior Executive Service officers, which will be implemented across the rest of the agency (onshore and globally) in 2020–21
  • implementing the new human resources model and the launch of the People Branch
  • consolidating the work of the People and Values Committee, which is dedicated to improving and building people-related strategies.

WORKFORCE AND RESOURCING

Austrade’s workforce comprises Australia- based staff and overseas staff employed under local employment law. At 30 June 2020, we employed 1,083 staff across 10 Australian offices and eight overseas regions (Table 3). The majority of our staff are in client-focused operations in Australia and overseas, and we compete at a global level for skills and experience. Our workforce demographics vary across market and business groups and our employees have a mix of public and private sector experience. See also Appendix D for further information on Austrade’s workforce.

Table 3: Austrade’s workforce, by location and gender, at 30 June 2020

LOCATION

FEMALE

MALE

TOTAL

Australia

343

227

570

ACT

169

97

266

NSW

105

76

181

Tas

0

1

1

Qld

20

14

34

SA

7

3

10

NT

1

1

2

Vic

36

30

66

WA

5

5

10

Overseas

297

216

513

Americas

50

40

90

ASEAN

68

29

97

Europe

33

25

58

Greater China

67

33

100

Middle East and Africa

25

22

47

New Zealand and Pacific

6

8

14

North East Asia

36

20

56

South Asia

12

39

51

Total (Australia and overseas)

640

443

1,083

Note: Excludes contractors, attached agency staff and employees working in TradeStart offices.

WORKPLACE ENVIRONMENT AND VALUES

The People and Values Committee reports to the Executive Committee and is briefed by the Austrade People Forum. The forum consists of 15 members, and any non–Senior Executive Service employee can nominate to become a member. Austrade’s employees play an integral role in maintaining Austrade’s reputation and serving Australia’s interests. In addition to upholding the Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct, Austrade has developed a set of values that guide employees’ conduct and behaviour. These values—to work innovatively and collaboratively, with a generosity of spirit and in a transparent manner— underpin how we work and improve our effectiveness as an organisation.

EMPLOYMENT FRAMEWORK

Austrade’s terms and conditions of employment for non–Senior Executive Service (SES) Australian Public Service (APS) employees are set out in the Austrade Enterprise Agreement 2019– 2022. In specific circumstances, terms and conditions are supplemented under an individual flexibility arrangement. At 30 June 2020, 28 employees had an individual flexibility arrangement in place. Employees covered by the enterprise agreement received a 2 per cent salary increase effective 22 January 2020.

Austrade provides its employees with a range of non-monetary benefits, including salary packaging, study assistance, healthy living reimbursements, purchased leave and short-term development assignments. Employees who are on overseas postings receive a range of allowances and benefits. Information about the conditions of employment for employees undertaking long-term overseas postings is contained in a range of policies and procedures.

We provide flexible working arrangements, including access to digital tools and technology to support this. Austrade does not have provisions for performance pay in place under our enterprise agreement.

Remuneration for the SES is reviewed annually at the discretion of the CEO. SES officers did not receive a salary increase in 2019–20. Further information on executive remuneration is provided in Appendix D.

Austrade’s overseas-engaged employees are engaged under section 74 of the Public Service Act 1999. Their terms and conditions are determined under a combination of individual employment contracts supported by country-specific terms and conditions of employment that comply with local statutory requirements.

Austrade undertook a review of our overseas administrative framework, which resulted in the implementation of a new corporate services network model that provides a consistent administrative assistance model across eight overseas regions, with direct reporting to the centralised Corporate Services Group onshore.

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

Austrade participates in the annual APS- wide employee census, using it as the principal method for seeking feedback from Australia-based and overseas- engaged employees on important issues such as health and wellbeing, attendance, performance management, leadership, and general impressions of the APS.

In addition to the census, Austrade also undertakes a biannual Pulse Survey. The survey is designed to provide a quick agency health and wellbeing check.

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

During 2019–20, Austrade continued to build on its commitment to diversity and inclusion and embedding the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2019–2021 into the agency’s work.

Major developments in diversity and inclusion at Austrade during the year included:

  • Austrade’s Reconciliation Action Plan 2019–2021, launched by CEO Dr Stephanie Fahey and our Indigenous champion Chris Rees in September 2019
  • an increase in the positive response rate, from 74 per cent to 83 per cent, to the question in the 2019 APS employee census on whether Austrade has a diverse and inclusive workplace culture
  • an affirmative measures round in late 2019 for the appointment of an Indigenous trade commissioner, which resulted in three applicants being offered positions
  • the running of a senior trade commissioner appointment round in late 2019, which resulted in five out of seven positions being filled by women. A separate trade commissioner appointment round resulted in the placement of 13 women and 12 men. These results align with the objective under Austrade’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy to increase the representation of women in senior trade commissioner and trade commissioner roles
  • the development and piloting of AustradeNExT, a women in leadership program that addresses Austrade’s commitment under its Diversity and Inclusion Strategy to fostering a talent pipeline for senior leadership.

WORK HEALTH AND SAFETY

Austrade is committed to the work health, safety and wellbeing of its employees and others visiting Austrade locations and events. Austrade is continuously improving its work health and safety management system by digitising and streamlining processes.

During the year, Austrade’s Employee Assistance Program provider conducted a series of seminars in Australia and New Zealand on a range of topics, including ‘Mental health in the workplace’, ‘Mindfulness’, and ‘Maintaining a healthy lifestyle’.

Confidential counselling services continue to be provided to all Austrade employees through the Employee Assistance Program. All employees have access to the Employee Assistance Program platform, an integrated online wellbeing app where employees can consult resources, including podcasts and videos, on a range of topics. Employees can access the app on any device at their convenience. Details of Austrade’s work health and safety activities and statistics are outlined in Appendix B.

PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT

Performance management is integral to delivering on our strategic priorities and strengthening organisational and individual capability.

Our performance agreements are developed on an annual basis, with a mid-cycle review occurring in January or February and the end-of-cycle review in July. Managers and staff are strongly encouraged to engage in regular, ongoing conversations to discuss all aspects of performance and development, and update any changes in their agreement.

Improvements to Austrade’s performance management system were finalised in 2019–20, with all employees now receiving two ratings—one for their achievement of key activities and one for their demonstration of Austrade values.

DEVELOPING OUR WORKFORCE AND PEOPLE

Austrade is committed to developing the skills employees need to undertake their current roles and to build capability in the skills that will be required in the future.

Our primary focus in 2019–20 was to define core and specialist skills that will enhance employees’ ability to effectively deliver Austrade’s client services. We also developed a new leadership capability framework, which will be used to guide Austrade’s talent program, including recruitment and development initiatives. Using digital delivery methods, new core and specialist skill programs were piloted and rolled out to targeted roles across Austrade’s global network.

Formal learning

Throughout the year, Austrade employees participated in a range of formal learning and development programs. In the first half of 2020, most of Austrade’s global programs were delivered via a digital platform and were fully virtual, with asynchronous and synchronous cohort- based activities.

In addition, the Austrade Institute contains an extensive catalogue of e-learning courses, and employees also have access to other online learning platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, GoodPractice and GlobeSmart.

Language capability development

Austrade’s language development policy encourages and supports staff to develop and maintain languages important to Austrade’s business requirements. Support includes providing language testing, language tutoring, and self-paced learning using an online program, Rosetta Stone.

Austrade’s seven priority languages are Arabic, Cantonese, Hindi, Bahasa Indonesia, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish.

Study assistance

The Austrade Study Assistance Scheme provides assistance to employees studying for formal qualifications in relevant areas through recognised education institutions in Australia and overseas. The assistance may include partial reimbursement of fees and associated costs, and study leave to attend courses and exams. In 2019–20, 27 employees were recipients of study assistance for studies in fields including international business, business administration and management, data, accounting and finance, languages, internal auditing and law.

Austrade scholarship program

Austrade’s scholarship program in 2019– 20 consisted of two internal scholarships for Austrade employees:

  • The Craig Senger scholarship—annually awards one Austrade staff member a scholarship of $6,000 to participate in a learning opportunity aligned with Austrade’s purpose and direction. The 2020 recipient will undertake a research project to learn about organisational transformation in government, and how to set up practices for a contemporary government agency based on human- centred design.
  • Asialink Leaders Program scholarships— this program builds knowledge of contemporary Asian societies and business culture intelligence skills to help participants more effectively manage the complexity of Australian-Asian relations. Two Australia-based employees were selected to participate in the 2020 program.