The skills, dedication and enthusiasm of our people enables us to efficiently and effectively deliver quality audit services to meet our mandate to Parliament, the public sector and the people of Western Australia.
The importance we place on managing and developing our workforce demonstrates our commitment to providing a supportive environment and achieving the OAG’s desired outcomes.
Meeting the challenge of an increasing audit program without growing our FTE is only possible through having the right people in the right positions. While the Auditor General has some discretion over management and resourcing, he is cognisant of the state’s economic environment and associated fiscal challenges. Also that OAG is a public sector department, subject to the obligations and constraints of the Public Sector Management Act 1994.
We constantly review our retention strategies and other initiatives in our Workforce Development Plan to enhance our recruiting competitiveness and employee retention. Our attrition rate stabilised at 7.35% with only10 employees leaving OAG in 2016-17: 2 resignations, 5 transfers to other public sector agencies and 3 retirements.
Learning and professional development
We are committed to the development of our people and have an extensive program that delivered in excess of 9,800 hours of in-house and external training. The OAG Professional Development Plan is a key component of our workforce planning and our Professional Development (PD) Committee includes representatives from each business unit. The annual program developed and delivered by the committee is designed to meet the needs of OAG and individuals.
Our Recognised Knowledge Partner Status with CPA Australia recognises our commitment to PD, training and performance management and as a result our CPA members receive a number of benefits. Most notable is the automatic continuing professional development recognition. Similar benefits to CA affiliate members are available due to our recognition by the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand as a Recognised Training Employer.
Input for PD topics, training areas and improvement opportunities comes:
- as a result of legislative change
- via professional and technical standards boards
- through changes in our social, political and economic environment
- directly from our people
- as a result of development areas identified through the staff performance development and review program
- through employee evaluations of the relevance and quality of our PD program.
The whole-of-office component of PD days covers topics of general relevance and wide application; and targeted sessions reflecting specific employee group training needs are delivered across relevant business units.
The PD Committee arranges speakers to deliver other targeted sessions on specific topics and to provide specialist or technical guidance. Employees undertaking CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand studies receive targeted study support.
Our regular PD program includes technical and non-technical learning and is the primary vehicle for whole-of-office training. We source specialist internal and external guest speakers to lead sessions. Our program is complemented and supplemented with a range of different training methods, including online courses and webcasts of national speakers.
We reinforce the importance of speaking and presentation skills by giving our people the opportunity to present on topics within their expertise and provide constructive feedback on their efforts. The direct results are increased employee confidence and improved in-house presentation skills and employee capabilities.
Specific training sessions presented in 2016-17 included:
- multiple graduate induction program sessions
- drawing proper conclusions
- final audit phase debriefs.
Plain English training continues to support our long-standing commitment to clear, concise report writing which is free from jargon. The sessions were targeted to relevant employee skill levels and included a half day introductory workshop, a 2 day ‘Getting to the Point’, a 1 day refresher and a 1 day proof-reading and editing workshop.
Performance development and review
We continue to review our staff performance development and review tool, and are preparing for its integration into the new HR system. Through training on effective performance management and review techniques, managers are increasingly aware that clear expectations are fundamental to meaningful and constructive performance reviews.
Graduate recruitment and support
We were pleased to welcome 6 financial audit graduates in January 2017. Our advertised recruitment program attracted 89 applicants, with 34 shortlisted for interview.
Our intensive 5-week induction and training program provides a strong foundation from the very beginning of our graduates’ time with us and includes:
- introduction to OAG and the broader public sector
- professional behavioural and customer service standards
- practical auditing
- legal compliance requirements
- a 3-week practicum.
The 3-year training program that follows supports our graduates through their key technical development period and their professional studies.
The cost-effective, efficient practice of employees seconded out of OAG to other agencies broadens their experience, improves expertise and increases skill sets. Likewise, those employees seconded in from other agencies provide benefits through different perspectives, ideas and suggestions. Additionally, they carry acquired skills and knowledge back to their home agencies.
Our unique inter-jurisdictional and international relationships with other audit offices in Australia and around the world allows us to offer outstanding secondment opportunities for interested employees. We are currently coordinating an exchange to the British Columbia Audit Office to begin in November 2017. We also have 1 employee undertaking a secondment with the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office and are negotiating a second to commence in 2018.
These placements are mutually beneficial, offering a way to share audit knowledge and expertise throughout and beyond the Australasian Council of Auditors-General (ACAG) community.
University liaison program
Targeted sponsorship of business school awards and scholarships at Edith Cowan University (ECU), Murdoch University, Notre Dame and the University of WA acknowledges the value of our strategic relationships with the universities. The Auditor General also has regular involvement at student events speaking about the importance of public sector audit.
We further enhance our relationships with the universities through unpaid student placements, which help promote us as a potential employer, as well as rewarding participants with credits in their units of study.
A unique placement opportunity in our Information Systems Audit branch, where they receive high-end exposure to complex IT environments, delivers mutual benefit to ECU students. Students develop and enhance software; draft management letters; and analyse and track systems with extranet facilities.
Equity and diversity
A significant percentage of our employees come from culturally and linguistically diverse and non-English speaking backgrounds. This provides opportunities as well as unique challenges, especially in the area of communication skills.
We provide a range of tools to assist with communications including speech therapy and introductory plain English workshops, which are stepping-stones for more advanced training.
We also provide easy access to online tools such as the Macquarie Dictionary, which includes an English pronunciation tool, via our intranet.
Our regular workplace behaviour and equal employment opportunity training is delivered to our graduates and new employees as part of their induction program, presenting and clarifying behavioural expectations. This year we also presented an in-house program specifically on bullying, a topic that is attracting a lot of attention across the public sector.
Code of Conduct
Annually all employees acknowledge their understanding of and commitment to our Code of Conduct, and their compliance with legislation, internal policies and professional standards of conduct. This formalises and acknowledges our commitment to the highest standards of corporate governance.
The Code of Conduct specifies appropriate standards of employee behaviour, with direct relevance to OAG’s unique role and responsibilities. A signed declaration acknowledges the employee’s personal and professional obligations of working with OAG and their continuing compliance with the code’s requirements.
The availability of support resources is promoted by the publication of names and contact details of employees trained in grievance resolution on the intranet and on posters around the office. Additionally, all of our Human Resources team are trained in grievance resolution.
Public Sector Commission review
This year we were pleased to participate in the Public Sector Commission’s evaluation of arrangements into managing bullying.
We are committed to this aspect of workforce management and corporate governance. Our processes, policies and other supporting documents have been provided for assessment and a number of our people have been interviewed. We expect that our commitment will be reflected in the results of the evaluation and look forward to any suggestions for further improvement.
Occupational safety and health
The Audit and Risk Management Committee (ARMC), which reports to the Executive, monitors trends, maintaining awareness of serious issues and being satisfied that risk management is timely and appropriate.
Business Services has day-to-day responsibility to ensure that the workplace, facilities, equipment and systems do not expose employees to hazard.
All new employees receive information and instruction on their obligations and responsibilities under our occupational safety and health (OSH) and injury management policies as part of the induction process. All documents are readily available on our intranet, including:
- Occupational Safety and Health Policy
- Management of Ill or Injured Workers Policy
- Working from Home Policy
- Reasonable and Flexible Working Hours Policy
- workers compensation guides
- injury management and return to work program
- incident and accident report forms.
We deliver training to ensure an acceptable, measurable level of OSH awareness by registering all employees for online OSH and injury management training. There are 2 different levels of training – non-supervisory employees, and supervisors and managers. Through monitoring and reporting to Executive on training completion rates we can identify areas for further training. This year we specifically addressed mental health.
Our performance in 2016-17 on occupational safety, health and injury management is reported on page 108.
Our Wellness Committee promotes healthy activities and general wellbeing. This year the committee organised a number of wellness initiatives including:
- Well at Work e-magazine
- mental health in the workplace
- diabetes – hypoglycaemia management in the workplace
- blood donations.
Employee suggestions and ideas
Through our online suggestion box employees can ask any question or make a suggestion. Responses are coordinated and posted on the suggestion board for employees to view. We also have an online idea box, known as the innovation wiki that employees can use to share and build on others’ innovation ideas.
Employee assistance program
The services offered through our employee assistance program includes independent counselling, advice and support to employees and their immediate families. We report program uptake to Executive annually.
Through this de-identified reporting, support area trends are identified and analysed with remedial actions such as awareness raising, health and wellbeing promotion and training considered.
We have a mobile workforce with audit staff working away from our office. To bring staff together we conduct 4 forums a year to:
- inform employees of current or emerging issues
- share relevant performance information such as how we are performing against our strategic targets, as well as areas where additional effort may be required
- acknowledge the achievements of the different business units
- share relevant employee matters including employee movements, transfers and new appointments, as well as personal news relating to engagements, weddings and babies
- hear from employees, especially those returning from secondments, to share lessons learned.
At the first forum of the year, our financial audit graduates from the previous year present on their experience as an OAG graduate. The results are often humorous and always insightful. In the final forum of the year, we invite a guest speaker to provide an inspirational, motivational or light-hearted end-of-year session.
Doing our bit for charity
We have long participated in fundraising activities and take pride in doing our bit for charity. We hold various activities throughout the year and we choose a main fundraiser each year, which this year was Diabetes WA.
The Social Club held its Annual General Meeting in March and kicked off the year with a Welcome to our 2017 Graduates Sundowner. Key events during the year included an autumn breakfast, end of financial year lunch, sundowners and Christmas lunch.