Workplace socialisation in the Public Service

In the course of examining data from the current Australian Public ServiceState of the Service of the Service Report the previous report. It contains an interesting chart showing employee satisfaction or engagement by length of service in the APS (see at the end of this post).

What is interesting is the reduction in engagement over time for most factors. This pattern mirrors what is known about work place socialisation. In general terms the pattern is for quite high levels of engagement when one is new to an organisation, followed by greater confidence and a small decline in engagement as individuals learn ‘what it is really like around here’.

Particularly interesting is the reduction in engagement after five years. This could possibly be a function of some individuals remaining in an agency for too long. However, that’s not a conclusion I’m quick to jump to.

Why? Look at at the pattern of the decline against the factors of learning and development, recognition and feeling valued, senior leaders and career progression. In essence all of these factors boil down to individuals expecting their workplace to add value to them. They are also factors that organisations can do something about.

It is no accident that the factors that see a comparatively small decline are those that are closest to the individual and that they are able to directly influence. That is, clarity over their work, relationships, their supervisor and the intrinsic rewards of work itself. It strikes me as most interesting that the decline appears to start with agency culture.

Food for thought.

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Karen Jane Smith

Thank you for this insight, Steve. It’s quite timely as I’m just going through a “program logic” exercise in my area (an L&D area) in, which is in an Australian government department (truly!). I think that this finding might help me to better frame what our purpose is, and how we might be utilised to lift levels of employee engagement/satisfaction. Thank you for sharing : )