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Business excellence councils outperform corporate counterparts

Press release

Insync has released benchmarked staff survey results for nine best practice local governments from across Australia. The group achieved a weighted performance index score of 67.05% compared to private sector organisations with 65.61% and public sector organisations at 64.73%. Weighted performance index scores are overall results and they indicate organisational performance that is closer to best practice based in the seven categories in Insync’s Employee Opinion Survey.









Some of the councils featured have formed the Australian Local Government Business Excellence Network that meets bimonthly in Melbourne. It has leadership representation from Port Stephens Council, City of Wodonga, Shire of Campaspe, Murrindindi Shire Council, Hobart City Council, Mildura Rural City Council and Bass Coast Shire Council. Insync has also worked with Colac Otway Shire and Knox City Council and their results have also been included in this top weighted performance index score.

June Shine, Executive Manager at Port Stephens Council and one of the Australian Local Government Business Excellence Network’s conveners, said: “We are thrilled with the weighted performance index result. There’s a market perception that private companies are better run, but our result dispels this. Our Australian Local Government Business Excellence Network is not only out performing other councils in the Insync’s benchmark database, but we’re doing better than private sector organisations.

“We’ve shown that councils can become more commercial in the way they operate and that this can positively impact employee satisfaction.

“Our councils have come together because we strive for industry excellence; we share our Insync Employee Opinion Survey results along with our ideas so we can improve internal operations and the service we deliver to our communities. We welcome new leadership representation from other councils to join our forum.”

High performance areas

June Shine said: “Our councils are trying to balance community and employee needs and the group’s results show some success in this area. Staff rated balancing work and life demands, teamwork and leadership from their immediate manager highly. Positively, staff also ranked achieving their work area’s goals and objectives, understanding where their work area fits into the organisation and satisfying external customers highly too.

“Our network was also pleased to see strong performance around providing a safe work environment. Our interest is shared with employees who see this as very important. Councils have a lot of home care, sports, outdoor roadwork and garden employees and we work hard to ensure all employees’ safety is put first.”

Improvement opportunities for councils

By measuring the gap between expectations and reality, Insync has helped these councils identify improvement opportunities. The gaps shows that many of the councils can improve on: keeping and valuing employees, providing incentives and rewards, demonstrating trust, providing career opportunities, leadership demonstrated by senior management, pay and conditions, and providing for employees’ health and wellbeing.

For Mildura Rural City Council, incentives and rewards has been an area of focus. Mandy Whelan, Manager of Organisational Development, said: “An inadequate incentive and rewards program was affecting our whole organisation. Staff were frustrated that managers where getting rewarded for employees’ hard work. After a lot of research, we decided to discontinue our old bonus system. Now, we’re about to celebrate our inaugural employee recognition awards night, which features team awards only.

“We’ve also launched a program called Sharing Learning Leading where managers share key lessons. Last year’s theme was our Insync  Employee Opinion Survey results and each department presented on what they’d done to address our council’s top three gaps.

“My team’s presentation featured a DVD where we asked managers and then staff about what makes them feel valued. It was lots of fun but revealed conflicting opinions. Our management team has taken this feedback on and we’re now working towards more positive relationships with staff.”

Port Stephens Council has focused its efforts on keeping and valuing employees. June Shine said: “We pulled together employees from different areas with a senior manager.  They were tasked with identifying things the council can do to value staff and keep skilled employees.

“The teams identified some positive activities, such as: openness and honesty, a commitment to business excellence and good working conditions. Their ideas for the future focused on encouraging managers to be more consistent in their behaviour, for senior management to be more approachable, and to recognise staff and team contributions in big picture achievements.

“We’ve now tied these elements into managers’ key performance indicators and launched a values program that we’ve marketed internally. Our management are now more visible. For example, our CEO has committed to visiting depots used by our people who work outdoors regularly.

“Positively, our best practice survey results in the key category called leadership and innovation have increased by 2% from March 2006 to March 2007 – this is significant. And in our qualitative data our people constantly said our managers are more visible, approachable and involved in day-to-day activities of our council.”

John Wynen, Organisation Development Manager at Bass Coast Shire Council, said: “Keeping skilled employees and providing incentives and rewards has also been our focus over the past year. Externally, we’re passionate about creating rewarding careers for our staff and boosting the profile of local government as a good employer to assist with attracting and retaining skilled employees.”










  • 24 studies with best practice local government organisations, including results from: Port Stephens Council, City of Wodonga, Shire of Campaspe, Murrindindi Shire Council, Hobart City Council, Mildura Rural City Council, Bass Coast Shire Council, Colac Otway Shire and Knox City Council
  • 43 studies with local government organisations over the past five years, including the 24 studies with best practice local government organisations
  • 75 studies with other public sector organisations over the past five years, including the 43 studies with local government organisations
  • 163 studies with private sector organisations over the past five years

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