2016 Employer of the Year - Port Stephens Council

Imagine a workplace with dedicated career development staff and managers trained in career conversation – That is the reality for the 530 employees at Port Stephens Council

The council, situated halfway between Sydney and Port Macquarie, also provides staff members with access to its Design Your Career Program, developed in partnership with Trevor-Roberts.

The council’s career development manager, Anne Schmarr, said the engagement level of staff has jumped from 49 per cent to 70 per cent since implementing career development opportunities.

“Staff feedback from employee surveys over more than a decade consistently indicated that the council did not provide any career development opportunities for staff,” Ms Schmarr said.

“It was clear that the approach we had for career development just wasn’t working. We decided to turn it on its head and make career development employee – owned, manager – facilitated and organisation supported.”

Anne said all staff now have a learning and development plan and feel a willingness to take charge of their own careers.

Due to the hard work of Anne and her colleagues, Port Stephens Council recently took out the 2016 CDAA Employer of the Year Award at the association’s national conference.

“There was much excitement amongst the staff, who acknowledge they are fortunate to work in an organisation that places a high value on career development,” Ms Schmarr said.

“To be awarded for our achievement in the career development profession is such a wonderful recognition of our program.”

The program has not only been recognised by CDAA however, with the organisation now the envy of many local councils.

“There is always a lot of interest when we tell our story. While many councils have expressed a willingness to have a dedicated career development program, limited funding is often a barrier,” Ms Schmarr said.

Anne hopes a greater focus is placed on career development in the future, with evidence confirming that it is an important component of increasing staff engagement.

“When organisations can match employee aspirations with meeting future workforce requirements, it’s a win-win situation.”