Post-merger survey shows DFAT still working
A new survey indicates that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is still dealing with the hangover from absorbing AusAID almost two years ago.
Pulse survey results show human resources and ICT management were still dealing with challenges of integrating AusAID into DFAT.
DFAT secretary Peter Varghese said survey results painted a “mixed picture”.
The new departments found some efficiencies and other productivity gains, but they came alongside “significant pressure” on the department's HR and ICT arms.
“[These areas] are responding professionally but much of what has been achieved is not yet fully visible at the coal-face of service delivery,” Mr Varghese wrote to staff.
“I hope to see this change in the course of this year.”
He believes the department could “do more to embed the DFAT values, improve transparency and ensure we are flexible and open to change”.
The results of the survey of 58 per cent of the DFAT workforce came to light in response to a question on notice asked by Labor Senator Anne McEwen.
DFAT was made to bring together two different working cultures by absorbing AusAID in late 2013, and a survey in 2014 revealed serious problems.
Back then, just a third of ex-AusAID employees felt that they were part of the team, while about 70 per cent of those who had always been at DFAT felt welcome.
In his email about the 2015 survey, Mr Varghese said: “At the headline level we are making progress and commitment to the department remains high”.
“But we still have many challenges ahead in terms of how some enabling services are perceived and also in reassuring staff that we have the right skills mix in place.
“Following the launch of the department's values statement and strategic framework, there has been a significant increase in the percentage of staff who are clear about the department's values and strategic direction.
“I am also pleased to see a notable improvement in a number of aspects of leadership, particularly in terms of senior leaders encouraging innovative thinking and appropriate risk taking.
“There are some signs of improvement in overall engagement, satisfaction and aspects of workplace culture.”
The survey did find a strong improvement in the amount of staff that felt DFAT's managers supported them during the merger.
Nearly 75 per cent of surveyed staff rated their division head or head of mission positively in leading by example to implement DFAT values and communicate effectively with staff.
Employee engagement, satisfaction, loyalty and commitment also improved, compared to the 2014 survey, with 73 per cent of staff now feeling proud to tell others they worked at DFAT, 63 per cent say they are satisfied with DFAT as an employer.
About 60 per cent of the survey respondents would recommend DFAT as a good place to work, while around two thirds said changes associated with the integration were now a normal part of their day-to-day work.