The jobactive – What’s changed and where to from here?

Having been involved in a research study of high performance in Australian government funded employment services over a decade ago I wondered what has changed in that time? Coming back to this sector in January 2016 I’m not sure that much has changed, in terms of the most valuable asset of any business, its people. From what I have been told, the vast majority are on the same salaries as 10 years ago which, even if money is not the biggest motivator for people working in the sector, is most likely reflected in the fact that there is close to a 40% attrition rate. This means an incredible loss of talent and expertise, ongoing significant costs in re-training and almost certainly lower outcomes for jobseekers. Certainly many of the same workplace practices remain with very little innovation in evidence.

10 Years Ago

A review of parallel studies by the Department of Workplace Relations and Small Business (now Department of Employment) and a private human capital management company that I was working for at the time (Psychometric Services Limited), by the then Department of Employment (DEWRSB), found that high performing member organisations had a thorough and strategic approach to staff selection than lower performers.  The DEWRSB study looked at the organisation while the PSL study looked at the occupation as they both related to performance. The findings, in essence, collaborated each organisation’s unique study. It was established that lower performing staff are more likely to persist with established or traditional approaches to work. High performers are more likely to be trying new and innovative ways of addressing client barriers and preparing them for work. It was found that in high performing sites, recognition of high performance was sought by consultants rather than financial reward.

Snapshot of the studies

The DEWRSB study confirmed, within the government funded employment sector, that the quality and depth of human resources, within an organisation, has a significant bearing on the level of performance likely to be experienced by job seekers, employers and the department itself.
The PSL Australia National Validation Study established a range of significant correlations between job performance and behaviour in the government funded employment sector. Through our study, we were able to create sector specific normative data that was both valid and reliable (for job matching, intensive assistance and managers).
Both studies examined the same processes determining the quality of human resources in the government funded employment services sector, but from two different perspectives. DEWRSB nominated recruitment and selection, training and development, performance management and the use of incentives as key organisational components determining performance. It described the way in which high performers utilised them over low performers. PSL Australia looked at the same processes but from an occupational sense. We asked “how can we refine the recruitment and selection, training and development, performance management and incentive (motivational) mechanisms to bring about a closer fit between organisation and employee and vice versa?”
To do that, we had to measure existing performance and behaviour.

Where to from here?

These studies indicated that best practice and continuous improvement will require organisations to better understand the fit between organisation, its processes and practices and the people it hopes will drive the business. Government funded employment service providers (now known as jobactive and DES) will have to find effective ways to measure their “people resources” so as to establish benchmarks, for each of the key organisational components. These benchmarks will facilitate the setting of objective performance expectations that also meet the expectations of job seekers, employers and the Department of Employment.

Correct measurement will also lay the foundation for cost savings associated with poor recruitment and selection, training and development, performance management and incentive processes and practices.
For a copy of both the DEWRSB review of these studies and the PSL Validation Study, please contact Jeff Wigney of MyWorkSearch on 0434250480.