The Department of Regional NSW is committed to making regional NSW great places to live, work, play and invest. We employ more than 4,500 people in more than 160 workplaces across NSW and are committed to being a family friendly workplace because everyone is part of a family, everyone is someone’s child, parent, partner or carer. We know work is just one aspect of anyone’s life, and we want to support our people to have a career and make an impact while ensuring they don’t have to compromise their most important role as a family member.
Flexible work practices are a cornerstone of the Department of Regional NSW. These arrangements include flexible start and finish times, working additional hours to make up for time off, flexible scheduling for rostered workers, part-time work, job sharing, working remotely, purchasing annual leave, leave without pay and study leave. COVID-19 has broadened that flexibility even more. Before COVID-19, all staff were required to work core hours of 10am – 3pm unless they had organised leave. When COVID-19 required staff to juggle home schooling and other caring responsibilities, we removed this obligation, enabling our people to work their hours in whichever way worked best for them. They can now work flexibly in a way that enables delivery for them, their team and their manager.
While there were initial misgivings about the capacity of people to work productively while complying with the NSW Health Orders, we have seen no lack of productivity. Staff may start earlier or later, take a few hours off during the day, finish work early or continue after they’ve put their children to bed at night. This has enabled people to balance their own priorities and mental health, which might include taking a walk, picking up groceries or attending appointments. People have responded well to being empowered to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. Our staff are more engaged and take responsibility for delivering results at work while balancing their caring responsibilities. We have also actively engaged our people leaders, supporting and upskilling them to effectively manage their staff under these new arrangements.
Being a family inclusive organisation enables us to attract and retain great talent. Our people value the arrangements we offer. In our latest staff survey, 91% of staff were satisfied with their ability to access and use flexible working arrangements and 92% of staff believe their manager supports flexible working in their team. This is reflected in our staff retention rates, with the majority of staff planning to work for the Department of Regional NSW for 5-10 years, which is 5% higher than other NSW Government departments.
Anna Wilson is a Recruitment Specialist for the Department of Regional NSW as well as being a wife, and mum to three children with complex health needs.
She enjoys the satisfaction of attracting talented people to the department and has taken advantage of a range of flexible working arrangements at various stages in her children’s lives.
Max, Sasha and Daisy were born with Metachromatic Leukodystrophy, a rare degenerative genetic condition requiring complex and considerable care.
She first joined the department in 2015 after an extended period away from the workforce, caring for her children. Joining first as a casual, she was immediately drawn to the work, while the department found a highly skilled and capable staff member.
She joined the recruitment team for an 8-week project and shortly after secured a full-time role.
I’ve worked in both full and part-time roles and taken some longer periods of leave at various stages.
The department supported me through the death of my much-loved son Max, who passed away at 14, and the grief I manage every day.
Both Sasha (18) and Daisy’s (15) conditions have declined significantly over the past couple of years, so I took some extended leave to manage that.
I also have further leave planned to support Sasha as she transitions to her post-school life.
The department offers a range of flexible working conditions and I think I’ve taken advantage of most of them. They include flexible work agreements including part-time, flexible start and finish times, and flex, carer, and unpaid leave.
While the flexible working policy arrangements are essential, it’s been my managers’ attitude and ongoing support that I’ve appreciated.
I value their respect and understanding of my situation and the flexibility to enable me to work around my caring responsibilities.
While I love my work and the sense of achievement it offers, as well as the distraction and richness it brings to my life, the reality is that for me, as for all parents, my family is my highest priority. Other people can do my work but nobody else can do my unpaid job.