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Staff attitude survey



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MWM/eri by authority of the Minister for Customs and Excise

DEPARTMENT OF CUSTOMS & EXCISE No. 25/73

STAFF ATTITUDE SURVEY

The Department of Customs and Excise recently completed an attitude survey among its 4,700 staff members throughout Australia.

When releasing the first results of the survey, 'the Comptroller- General, Mr A.T. Carmody, said : "We have been improving our administrative procedures over the years in such fields as computer systems to facilitate the customs clearance of imports,

improved passenger clearance processes and more effective and economical customs control methods. At the same,time, we have been very conscious of the need to provide for the personal development and job satisfaction of our officers. To meet this need, we have operated an extensive training program and adopted personnel policies directed at the development of their technical and administrative abilities.

"In looking at what further might be done to improve personal development and job satisfaction, it seemed that these goals could be more effectively and rapidly achieved if we obtained frank information from the staff themselves about their attitudes

and opinions. We could then use this information to guide our future developmental programs. ‘

"I invited Wilfred Jarvis, a Senior Lecturer in Behavioural Science at the Graduate School of Business, University of New South Wales to co-operate with members of the Department in designing a research questionnaire. .

"A scale with 115 multi-choice items was constructed. We distributed it to all officers of the Department. Their responses were processed on our computer. Mr Jarvis has now prepared the first summary of results and I am sending these to the whole staff."

Commenting on the project, Wilfred Jarvis said : "No Australian organisation has attempted a more comprehensive inquiry into factors affecting the personal and professional.needs of the people who work in it. .

"Seventy-five per cent of the staff returned completed questionnaires to me. By international standards, this is a very high response rate.

"The initial summary of results reveals some very useful information about present patterns of attitudes and opinions.

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"I am now beginning a more detailed analysis of the responses. This will produce a vast amount of diagnostic data on which the Comptroller-General and his staff can base their future plans for a developmental program.

"The evidence indicates that the project is being very well supported by most officers.

"I regard this as one of the most significant programs presently being followed in any Australian organisation."

Some impressions gained from the first summary of results are attached.

CANBERRA A.C.T.

13 September 1973

ATTACHMENT

STAFF ATTITUDE SURVEY

IMPRESSIONS FROM THE FIRST SUMMARY OF RESULTS

The initial schedule of results shows the distribution of answers to a number of questions. On most items, the staff were invited to select one of a number of responses which most nearly represented their attitudes or opinions. Because

the sample was so large, the pattern of responses covered a very wide range and the available results give only an impressionistic notion of some major patterns.

For instance, in questions relating to their relationship with their present boss, most officers rate him very highly for his technical skills; feel free to talk frankly to him; are satisfied with the frequency of supervision they receive

and experience team work in their present work situation.

Nonetheless, many indicate they would prefer more democratic leadership and others would like greater opportunities to discuss their personal complaints or grievances with their supervisors.

Most see the Department as an efficient organisation in which their particular area of work makes a worthwhile contribution to the Department's goals. Most officers are happy working in the department.

However, the survey indicates that the Department should review some of its personnel policies, for example :

- staff counselling and appraisal scheme;

- the selection system for promotion;

- the availability of opportunities for training and promotion; and

- its organisation and management patterns

. to allow greater opportunities to participate in decision making;

. to improve opportunities to develop and use the skills and talents of officers in creative work; and

. ’ to 'improve communications.

Further analysis will be needed before the data can become useful and we can discover the factors which determine the clusters of responses. On all questions, some groups of officers responded very differently from others and factors determining these differences are most important so that remedial action can be taken.

The Comptroller^General intends to re-run the survey after this action has been introduced in order to measure the success of the program.