Troubling workloads and staffing shortages affecting members’ wellbeing - Public Service Association

Troubling workloads and staffing shortages affecting members’ wellbeing

A few months ago, the PSA asked you to participate in a survey on workloads as a member of Shared Services (in Goulburn and Parramatta). As a consequence of the results of the survey, the PSA held a meeting and commenced discussions with Colleen Hamilton: Director HR Shared Services/Shared Services and Customer Experience (SSCX).

It is our view the workload issues reported are just the tip of the iceberg.

Results show that staff feel workload is at an unhealthy level

  • 88 per cent of respondents believed their workload had increased to an unhealthy level
  • 76 per cent of respondents felt that their workload prevented them from managing their wellbeing effectively.
  • 71 per cent of respondents felt that their workload prevents them from taking leave.
  • 65 per cent of respondents feel they are not given adequate training or support to complete their duties.
  • 79 per cent of respondents stated their work area had taken on extra work or services, and 100 per cent of these respondents stated that staffing levels had not increased to cover this additional work.
  • 85 per cent of respondents had experienced a high turnover of staff, and 77 per cent of respondents had current unfilled vacancies.

Members also reported that:

  • They were doing unprecedented levels of extra work on top of their roles, stating that if staff have left, the work gets divided amongst the team. Staff also reported working during weekends and long days during the week to catch up with the workload.
  • Staff were taking on the workload of other staff going on leave without consultation, and with unrealistic expectations from leadership team.
  • Staff breaking down and crying in the office is not an unusual occurrence
  • With the introduction of Service Now, some respondents stated work takes four times longer to complete than by email.
  • Being staffed to pay approximately 6500 employees, but currently paying more than 10,000.

Members’ meetings

The PSA has met repeatedly with concerned members. There were many members who reported on the tragic effects workload is having on their mental health.

Engagement with Shared Services

The PSA is taking steps to engage with Shared Services around members’ concerns. We have highlighted in our meeting with Shared Services Director that:

  1. Shared Services in Goulburn are under-resourced, and it is not just a result of their workloads. The reports coming from the area are of great concern to the PSA.
  2. Personnel are undertaking excessive work that cannot be done during core hours.
  3. Staff are forfeiting Flex Time and work-life balance has been jeopardised by the amount of work undertaken for the last two years plus.

The PSA had previously been advised that while talent pools had been created, they quickly deplete and that it is getting hard to find staff in the current climate. It was also mentioned by the Director that some work is done at Parramatta to alleviate the work in Goulburn. The PSA would like to see a written proposal of the risk assessment for this action.

Your union will be seeking this in writing from the Department. We will also be calling on Shared Services to detail the amount of vacancies that currently exist, and what the plan is to recruit to these roles and alleviate the workload concerns their staff are raising.

What can you do?

We know it is tempting to not record excess hours accurately. However, it is important that you do so to ensure that Shared Services Executive team has knowledge of the hours being worked. If the timesheets don’t reflect the hours worked, it will continue to hide the workload issue.

As important is to discuss your workload with your manager, if you are about to forfeit hours tell your manager. You may wonder why this is important:

  1. If they require you to keep working, ask your manager to approve you carrying over more than the 30 hours per settlement period.
  2. Where there are repeated patterns of employees forfeiting hours, your manager is supposed to address this with you and formulate a plan so that you do not continue to forfeit hours.
  3. If you are regularly working in excess of eight or 10 hours discuss this with your manager.
  4. If your concerns are being ignored, and your health is suffering, lodge a WHS Incident report

We want to continue working with members of Shared Services to address the current and emerging workload issues/staffing issues and members wellbeing. If you are not a member of the PSA now is the time to join.

If you have any further questions around any of the content of this bulletin, feel free to reach out to your organiser Alex Sala at .

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