So, you’ve got your People Matter Survey results…now what?

Angela Seach
July 3, 2024

Every year, public sector agencies around the country survey their employees with the aim of building positive workplace cultures consistent with public sector values, and improving the work environment for their employees.

The surveys may be conducted at different times of year, and may be called by different names, but every year, agencies get a point-in-time understanding of what is working well in their agency, and what needs improvement.  The agencies receive not only their own data, but benchmarking data as well, so they can compare their own data to that of other, similar agencies.

In 2023, around 440,000 public sector employees gave freely of their opinions, based on their lived experience of working at their agency. A veritable gold mine of information that can help agencies to create safer, more productive workplaces, and improve the services that governments provide around the country.

Here in Victoria, the People Matter Survey is running right now, for all agencies except for public health organisations, who will be invited to complete the survey in October. Those agencies participating now can expect to receive their results in late July. So those agencies will now be turning their attention to preparing for the results.

Many of our Public Sector clients tell us that while they find the insights that can be drawn from their survey results to be incredible useful at an agency level, when it comes to understanding what the data means at a local or departmental level, they struggle at times.  The scale and scope of the survey means that the data they receive is statistical in nature and can sometimes leave them scratching their heads about what to do next, and where to focus their attention and resources.

And the pressure is on, because we all know that there is only so much survey goodwill out there.  We know that when employees take the time to give us their feedback via a survey, they expect to not only hear about the results, but critically, what the organisation intends to do to address those matters that are causing them discomfort or dissatisfaction.  If they don’t hear about the results, or what the organisation plans to do in response, the likelihood that they will provide feedback again diminishes.  Somewhat ironically, if we are not prepared to front up to what our people have told us, the act of measuring engagement reduces engagement.

This, combined with increasing requirements for employers to take action to prevent psychosocial harms and unlawful behaviour means the stakes are pretty high.

But there are so many different things we might do to address particular issues, and the data doesn’t help to narrow down the field.  Where to begin?

Public Sector Commissions provide support to their agencies through action planning templates and tools, and these provide high quality guidance.

Here are some other interventions that we have used to support our clients to properly understand what their people are telling them through these surveys, and what will help:

  • Select some data that you want to explore further and conduct focus groups with volunteers from the team to comprehensively examine what the data means – for example, if your people report an increase in incivility, ask open and neutral questions to identify common examples, such as how and when it typically happens, and what might be causing people to be uncivil. The discussion that these questions generate will be likely to uncover deeper causal factors that can be addressed practically, such as workflow bottlenecks, rather than individuals just being cranky. These insights will provide valuable guidance in taking targeted and specific actions.


  • Run a team workshop to develop an action plan for improving engagement and satisfaction. In planning for the workshop, choose those areas from your survey data that are likely to be related to each other, or perhaps have common causal factors, to maximise the ‘bang for buck’ out of the day.  We have used strengths-based approaches in supporting clients in this way.  That is, facilitating the group to identify what ‘ideal’ looks like, and then identifying the steps needed to get there, what is already in place, and how it can be built upon to improve outcomes.  Once you have these guideposts, a practical plan is relatively easy to develop, and importantly, the team will feel ownership and commitment to the actions that come from it.


  • Invite volunteers to participate in confidential qualitative one-on-one interviews to provide their views on areas of concern. Interviews can be a useful approach if your survey data indicates that there are significant behavioural concerns, provided you are able to create a safe environment in which participants feel comfortable sharing their experiences and views with you.  Of course, in setting up such interviews, it is critically important to be clear about what will be considered confidential feedback, and what will happen if a disclosure is made that requires an organisational response.


At Worklogic, we get real satisfaction from supporting organisations to navigate and make meaning from survey data, so we are always here to help.

Associate Director and Practice Leader (Leadership & Culture) Angela Seach has significant experience in rolling out culture reviews and organisation-wide surveys for large businesses. Angela and the team are happy to help. Get in touch to find out more.

For event invites and compelling insights into resolving workplace conflict and building a positive culture at work!

Integrity Line

Integrity Line is an independent whistleblower service for complaints about inappropriate conduct at work, provided by Worklogic. Click here to visit the Integrity Line website.