The 'Commissioner's Foreword', the 'Executive Summary' and the 'Background' section of the report are published below. For the FULL REPORT, go to the PDF file attached above. Also provided are an A3 Summary sheet for quick reference and a Trend Report.

See also: More women appointed to senior leadership in the public sector - media statement from the Minister of State Services, Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman and the Minister for Women's Affairs, Hon Jo Goodhew.


The Public Service workforce in New Zealand is facing a great challenge. New Zealanders expect more from their public services, at a time of ongoing fiscal constraint. They expect higher quality, better value for money and more innovative services, as well as those that make a greater use of new technology.

To meet these expectations the Public Service is focused on doing things differently to get better results. Making this happen requires more than a change to ‘what’ we do. It requires a significant change in the ‘way’ we do it. This includes the culture of our public sector – how we think, what we believe and how we live our organisational values.

To improve services, government agencies are working far more closely together, and in a fundamentally different way. We are strengthening leadership and ensuring accountability. As well as this, agencies are collecting, using and publishing better performance information – so we all can see how they are measuring up to those expectations.

A big part of improving leadership is for agencies to engage their staff with the challenges and draw on their strengths to meet them. It’s also about fostering innovation – many of the service delivery challenges we face are about creating the right environment for innovation to occur.

I expect our public services will continue to make a difference to the lives of New Zealanders through constant improvement, innovation and through leaders who build cultures focused on achieving results.

In order to meet all of these challenges the Public Service needs to carefully manage the workforce it has.

This Human Resource Capability (HRC) survey of Public Service departments provides capability insights into the Public Service workforce and gives information on changing workforce trends. This information allows agencies to make informed decisions about their workforce, to ensure the delivery of better public services.

Iain Rennie
State Services Commissioner


This report provides information about trends in the Public Service workforce with a focus on changes over the 12 months to 30 June 2012. The 2012 HRC survey found:

Staff Numbers

Staffing levels in the Public Service fell over the year to 30 June 2012. The number of Full‐Time Equivalent (FTE) employees decreased for the third year in a row by 250 to 43,345 (‐0.6%).

Pay and Benefits

The movement in average base salary for the Public Service was 3.0% (2.4% in 2011). This movement is not a direct reflection of the salary increases staff receive, as it is affected by both compositional changes in the workforce, and progression within the scale and promotion increases.

The Labour Cost Index measures changes in wages and salaries in the New Zealand workforce and shows the Public Service has lagged the private sector since June 2009.

The use of performance pay increased in 2012, with 11.8% of public servants receiving lump sum performance payments. The average amount received was $1,345.

Recruitment and Retention

Core unplanned turnover increased to 11.4% in 2012. The average length of service for employees in the Public Service rose slightly to 9.2 years. The amount of sick leave and domestic leave taken by public servants rose to an average of 7.6 days per employee (from 7.4 days in 2011).

In the year to 30 June 2012, 764 employees in the Public Service were made redundant (down from 882 in 2011). The average redundancy payment increased to $50,650. Redundancy payments totalled almost $39 million, this compares to $40 million last year and $7.7 million five years ago.

Leadership and Equality and Diversity

There are more women senior leaders in the Public Service. The 2012 value of 42.1% is the highest proportion of women in senior leadership in the 13 years the HRC survey has existed, and the highest year on year change for the last 10 years. The ethnic composition of senior leadership has not changed significantly.

The gender pay gap for the Public Service has decreased to 13.7%. This is the lowest it has been in the 13 years the HRC Survey has been run. The average age of public servants continues to increase and in 2012 is 44.6 years.


Information in this report comes primarily from the HRC survey, which collects data on staff1 in all Public Service departments, as defined in Schedule 1 of the State Sector Act 1988, and some wider State Sector organisations. The survey has been conducted annually since the year 2000.

This report provides information about characteristics and trends within the Public Service workforce. Six main topic areas are covered:

  • staff numbers

  • pay and benefits

  • recruitment and retention

  • leadership

  • equality and diversity

  • leave

This year, a one‐off special interest topic has been written on Public Service staffing in Canterbury following the earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011.

This report provides core information on staffing numbers and gives insight into human resource capability in the Public Service. The data is a resource for agencies to use in benchmarking themselves with other agencies, sectors and the Public Service as a whole.

Structure of the survey

The survey collects employee and organisational level information from Public Service HR departments. Information on the survey structure, definitions, and contact details are available on the SSC website:

HRC reporting and capping reporting

This report complements the recently released capping update which focused on the total number of positions (FTE staff numbers plus vacancy numbers) in core government administration, and the number of communication staff in each department. For the full capping report, see

There is a significant overlap between the staff covered by the cap on core government administration and employees in the Public Service. Figure 1 highlights the overlaps and differences between these two groups.



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