Management and Accountability:Human Resource Management

Human Resource Management

Finance seeks to attract, retain and develop high calibre staff by providing competitive remuneration and a positive work experience. These goals are pursued through active and transparent human resource management.

Finance’s Human Resource (HR) policies are regularly reviewed and revised to meet the contemporary needs and developing expectations of current and prospective staff. Significant developments during 2009-10 included:

  • introduction of the Department of Finance and Deregulation Collective Agreement 2009‑2011
  • roll back of a proportion of performance bonuses into base salary
  • replacement of SES Australian Workplace Agreements with individual determinations under subsection 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999 (s24(1) det.)
  • maintaining a staff turnover rate of 12 per cent, after a reduction from 18 per cent in 2007-08
  • seventy per cent of Finance staff indicating they are satisfied with their access to learning and development opportunities.

Learning and Development opportunities are outlined on pages 120 to 123. Further HR information is included in appendices to this report. Occupational health and safety arrangements are discussed in Appendix A and the department’s staffing profile, salary ranges and turnover are outlined in Appendix B.

Recruitment and retention

Effective recruitment action and the retention of staff are critical to Finance’s ability to meet its responsibilities. In 2009-10, Finance continued to attract a high rate of interest from potential recruits and continued to focus on retention.


In 2009-10, advertised vacancies attracted an average of 19 applications, compared to 17 in 2008-09. The average recruitment process took 26 working days to complete compared to 24 working days in 2008-09. This is well within the department’s target of completing the process within 30 working days (measured from the close of applications to final delegate decision).

The department has recruitment programs for graduates, career starters and Indigenous employees. These are complemented by development programs for students and existing employees. A temporary employment register and recruitment merit lists are also maintained.

Graduate Recruitment

Graduates are Finance’s largest entry-level intake. The program is open to university students completing their final year of study or those who have completed a degree within the last five years. Forty‑nine graduates were recruited in 2010, slightly less than the 53 recruited in 2009. The retention of these graduates is a high priority and the department’s performance has been quite strong. Over the two years between 2008 and 2010 Finance retained 85 per cent of its graduate intake.

Finance’s graduate development program is outlined on page 120.

Career Starters’ Program

The Career Starters’ Program is for students who are studying for their Year 12 Certificate, or who have completed it within the last two years. Successful applicants are offered a job at the APS 1 level. Finance recruited 12 career starters in 2009‑10. Of the 68 career starters recruited between 2006 and 2010, 80 per cent were still employed by the department at 30 June 2010. Fourteen have been promoted to APS 4, three to APS 5 and one to APS 6 levels.

Finance’s development program for career starters is outlined on page 121.

Indigenous Recruitment

Finance is committed to substantially increasing the number of its Indigenous employees. The department has set a target of 2.7 per cent Indigenous employment by 2015, aligned with the Commonwealth public sector target. As at 30 June 2010, 1.2 per cent of Finance employees identified as being Indigenous.

The department offers graduate placements and cadetships through the Indigenous Graduate and Traineeship programs run by the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC). These programs combine completion of study and work placements to accelerate development and provide a career path. Finance continued the employment of three Indigenous cadets during 2009 and engaged an additional four cadets in 2010.

Finance also recruited four employees through the Indigenous Australian Government Development Program run by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) and hosted nine Indigenous work experience students through DEEWR’s ‘Learn Earn Legend!’ program.

Vacation Employment

Finance’s vacation employment program gives students practical work experience while they are studying at university. The program has two intakes each year: in the winter and summer holidays. Twelve students took part in this program during the year.

Staff retention

Many of Finance’s HR policies target staff retention, recognising the high costs of recruitment and the importance of retained knowledge and experience. Recent years have seen an improvement in staff retention with turnover rates reducing from 20 per cent in 2006‑07. They were 18 per cent in 2007‑08, 12 per cent in 2008‑09, and have remained at this level in 2009‑10.

The department monitors the APSC State of the Service Employee Survey and regularly tests staff job satisfaction, developing targeted initiatives to address any areas of concern.

Recent retention initiatives include streamlining internal approval processes, and training and support to reinforce APS values and appropriate workplace behaviour. A further successful retention initiative is the Driver Plus program. This program is an opportunity for casual COMCAR drivers who wish to increase their hours by undertaking administrative tasks, such as payroll and travel processing, when not required for driving duties. During 2009-10, the department provided additional training to nine drivers.

Following extensive consultation, the Department of Finance and Deregulation Collective Agreement 2009‑2011 was introduced, with effect from 16 July 2009. This agreement supports improved work-life balance through revised leave provisions, including enhanced parental leave, improved access to time off in lieu, allowances that better recognise additional time contributions, and overtime payments for staff at the APS 1 to 6 levels. The agreement also includes provisions dealing with workplace consultation, representation and dispute resolution.

Workforce planning

Workforce planning is a key strategic issue for Finance. Accessing skill groups such as accountants, ICT, construction and project management specialists will impact on the Department's future capability. During 2009-10, Finance continued to monitor influences on its workforce such as emerging trends in skill shortages, improved workforce mobility, and intergenerational changes in the way people view attachment to their employer. While this work has not identified any immediate problems, given the long lead times involved in responding to such issues, the trends continue to be watched carefully.

Finance developed a Workforce Action Plan 2009-10 which contains measures including:

  • review of targeted recruitment, the learning and development program and the performance management framework to ensure strong linkages between the programs and Finance’s business needs
  • targeting the retention of the two age groups whose trends are of emerging concern – those 35 years and under and mature-aged officers
  • developing a strategy to improve the rate of female participation at the SES Band 1 and Band 2 levels
  • a comprehensive diversity strategy, together with a revised Reconciliation Action Plan, to improve Indigenous participation rates.

Finance recognises that diverse workplaces are more productive and attract the best people. In 2009-10, to increase the department’s ability to recruit and retain people with a disability, Finance advertised all vacancies on the Disability Works Australia website. The department also participated in the Diversity Network and remained a member of the Disability Steering Committee coordinated by the APSC.

Finance has established a partnership with CRS Australia to assist people with a disability, injury or health condition to get back to work. The two organisations jointly developed a strategy to support an early return to work and, where needed, provide continued support. The Finance temporary employment register asks candidates to identify if they are currently registered with CRS Australia. If a candidate answers ‘yes’, a manager is notified to ensure adequate support should the candidate be offered a position.

Remuneration, rewards and recognition

Finance recognises that competitive remuneration, recognition for effort, good work and appropriate work-life balance attract and retain the best people. These are key elements of Finance’s employment proposition.

The terms and conditions of employment for the majority of non‑SES Finance staff are prescribed by the Department of Finance and Deregulation Collective Agreement 2009‑2011. This agreement provides staff with flexible and competitive remuneration and conditions. A very small number of non-SES Finance employees continued to have their terms and conditions of employment prescribed by Australian Workplace Agreements.

As at 30 June 2010, the majority of SES employees had agreed to replace their Australian Workplace Agreements with an individual determination under s24(1) det. This process will be complete, with all SES employees transitioning to an s24(1) det., by September 2010.

Terms and conditions of employment for COMCAR drivers are provided by the COMCAR Drivers’ Collective Agreement 2009-2011, which commenced on 18 May 2009.

Finance’s employment conditions, supported by the department’s HR policies, comply with all legislative and government policy requirements.


During 2009-10 most Finance employees received an across-the-board salary increase of three per cent, subject to receiving a performance rating of ‘effective’ or better. In addition, on commencement of the Department of Finance and Deregulation Collective Agreement 2009-2011, eligible employees’ salaries increased by a component that recognised the rollback of performance bonuses into salary.

Under the COMCAR Drivers’ Collective Agreement 2009‑2011, COMCAR drivers received an across-the-board increase of four per cent.

Performance management

All Finance employees participate in the department’s performance management arrangements. This involves regular structured feedback and mechanisms to meet performance standards. Each employee is required to establish a performance agreement in consultation with their manager. The agreement identifies an individual’s key outcomes with reference to the relevant Finance Work Level Standards. In December and June each year, performance is measured against the agreement and the Finance Valued Behaviours. Learning and development opportunities are also identified in the performance agreement.

Following the end-of-cycle performance assessment in June, employees are provided with feedback and a performance rating.

In the 2009-2010 performance cycle, 0.6 per cent of employees received a rating of ‘requires development’, 26.7 per cent received ‘effective’, 54.1 per cent received ‘highly effective’, 17.2 per cent received ‘superior’ and 1.4 per cent received ‘outstanding’. The results are similar to those seen in previous years.

Rewards and recognition

Finance formally recognises exceptional performance through the annual Secretary’s Awards. These awards celebrate the achievements of teams and individuals who demonstrate excellent customer service, leadership, achieve substantial efficiencies or outstanding policy and program outcomes.

Secretary’s Awards for Achievement 2009-10

Individual awards were presented to:

Phoebe Thompson, Strategic Sourcing Branch, AGIMO

For the high level of professionalism, expertise and commitment demonstrated in ensuring the successful establishment of the whole-of-government Microsoft Volume Sourcing Agreement.

Beryl Knox, Secretary’s Office

For her professionalism, dedication and outstanding contribution supporting the Secretary and his Office.

Team awards were presented to:

Budget Group

For working together with drive, energy, persistence and resilience in very difficult and demanding circumstances to help the Australian Government to deliver and manage its budget.

Communications Advice Branch and Procurement Implementation Branch, AMG

For outstanding achievement in developing and implementing new whole-of-government advertising arrangements.

More than just a job

Finance is more than just a workplace for its staff. Many of our people develop a strong sense of engagement with Finance that extends beyond their professional contribution. While Finance encourages a healthy work life balance it also recognises the value of encouraging staff to identify with the Finance community and to use this sense of engagement productively. This encouragement takes a variety of forms ranging from social and charitable activities to supporting cultural and development activities in Australia and in the Asia-Pacific region (as outlined in Outcome 2).

Finance staff can be proud of what they have achieved through this wider workplace engagement and the department benefits from the strong sense of self belief that these activities engender. Achievements include:

  • Charitable donations by Finance staff through the Workplace Giving payroll  deduction facility amounted to $24,000
  • Over $30,000 in deductions by staff was raised through Social Club events including Jeans for Genes Day, Movember, Shave for a Cure
  • The Serious Illness Leave Register allows employees to donate part of their personal leave balance to a bank that can be drawn by others in need. Over 900 days have been donated since 2006
  • Around 300 staff, family and friends attended the 2009 Finance Masquerade Ball
  • The Women’s Network celebrated its 20th anniversary. Events included the Pink Ribbon Breakfast fundraising event to fight breast cancer and the white ribbon seminar to promote the ‘Elimination of Violence Against Women’.

Participation in these activities develops a strong spirit of community within Finance, builds workplace networks, enhances understanding and promotes tolerance, and shares financial resources and professional expertise.

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