Planning and development

Business planning

Commission staff members are guided by a business plan which aims to provide independent, efficient and highly-regarded workplace relations services. The plan underpins branch plans for each of the Commission's four branches and its staff performance management framework.

During the reporting period the Commission began developing strategic goals to underpin its work for the next three to four years. Having already developed draft goals for administrative staff early in the reporting period, the Executive and senior managers subsequently worked with Commission Members to ensure that these goals would support the Commission's work.

The goals are the foundation of the Corporate Plan (PDF) which was developed to meet the requirements of the enhanced Australian Government Performance Framework which was implemented through the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) from 1 July 2015. The Corporate Plan (PDF) sets out the objectives and strategies the Commission intends to pursue to achieve its goals. The plan covers four reporting periods and will be reviewed and published on the Commission's website every year by 31 August.

The four strategic goals in the Corporate Plan (PDF) are:

  • The community understands the role of the Commission and recognises it as an independent, expert tribunal.
  • The Commission is accessible to all Australians, recognising the community's diverse needs and expectations.
  • The Commission is accountable and transparent.
  • The Commission is an effective, proactive regulator of registered organisations with high levels of compliance by organisations with legislative obligations.

The Commission's Corporate Plan (PDF) was published on its website on 31 August 2015.

Performance and development framework

Guided by the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2013, the Commission remains committed to developing a high-performing workplace.

With the continuation of the Fair Work Australia Enterprise Agreement 2011–14 (PDF) (FWAEA) past its nominal expiry date of 30 June 2014, the performance and development framework from previous years remained in place during the reporting period.

The framework links individual behaviours, performance and development with organisational goals.

It aims to:

  • set performance standards and expectations
  • provide employees with the opportunity to give and receive feedback
  • identify professional development opportunities aligned with the Commission's core skill requirements
  • recognise staff contributions beyond their immediate work area
  • enable the development of goals common to a group of employees
  • ensure that employee behaviour is consistent with the Commission's values
  • consistently apply performance ratings at mid-year and end-of-year assessments.

The enterprise agreement requires all staff employed for at least three months to have an individual performance and development plan. In 2014–15, plans were in place for 96.1 per cent of staff, the only exceptions being those on long-term leave.

Learning and development

The Commission continues to offer learning and development opportunities through a range of learning options including short courses, online and e-learning, support for staff undertaking formal study and coaching/mentoring opportunities. Individual professional development is directly linked to the Commission's performance and development framework and aims to create a more capable workforce to meet current and future needs.

In 2014–15 the Commission spent $442,472 excluding the goods and services tax (GST) on learning and development. This covered all staff training across the Commission, including study assistance and core skills training in areas such as people management and leadership, administration, legislation, technology, project/program management and communication.

In 2014–15 the Commission ran a formal leadership program for the Executive and Senior Management Group which will continue into the next reporting period. The program built on a range of previous initiatives and consisted of workshops, individual leadership profiles, leadership insight group sessions and executive coaching.

During the reporting period the Commission also identified change management training as an organisation-wide developmental activity for all staff. The Executive and senior managers participated in workshops in July and August 2014 and the Commission provided 'Dealing with change' workshops to all staff in June 2015.

In November 2014 the Commission developed and implemented two e-learning modules concerning anti-discrimination, bullying and harassment and the public interest disclosure scheme. In addition, it ran a number of in-house training programs including:

  • Performance and development plan refresher programs reinforcing the objectives of performance management and aligning staff goals with the organisation's goals.
  • A relief conciliator training program to provide voluntary training to Commission staff to assist with conducting unfair dismissal conciliation conferences during peak workloads.
  • A conciliators' forum.
  • An associates' forum.

Productivity gains

As part of its commitment to providing outstanding service delivery, the Commission introduced a number of learning and development initiatives designed to enhance its efficiency and productivity.

In particular, it introduced a new enterprise agreement triage team to support the Agreements Pilot and expanded its relief conciliator program.

The two programs have provided Commission staff with an opportunity to broaden their skills while providing more efficient and consistent service to parties.

The relief conciliator model means that additional conciliators can be drawn from an existing staff base on an 'as needs' basis to enable the Commission to better resource and respond to any peaks or troughs in unfair dismissal applications.

As of 30 June 2015 the Commission had also transitioned its former in-house payroll function to Aurion, an outsourced platform.

This streamlining of the payroll process means that existing payroll staff members are able to diversify their skills and provide additional support to the human resource functions of the Commission.

The Commission has also achieved productivity gains by placing a greater emphasis on the use of technology.

Over the last 12 months the Commission has moved towards paperless files for unfair dismissal matters and has trained staff appropriately in the use of technology to facilitate this. By using paperless files, manual processes have decreased and the speed with which files can be processed has improved.