Deadline for CSIRO performance plan reviews fast approaching

As the performance assessment season at CSIRO starts to get into swing, survey results showing sub optimal ratings for employee development and reward are a reminder that staff review processes have not always been applied consistently and transparently across the organisation.

The Annual Performance Agreement (APA) process – mandatory for all CSIRO employees excluding casuals and staff employed for less than three months – provides a framework for individual performance development, review, rewards and promotion.

According to the enterprise agreement ‘CSIRO will foster an environment in which exemplary standards of performance and behaviour of individuals and teams are recognised and rewarded through consistently applied and transparent processes.’

Survey results

Results from the recent all staff survey revealed that 40 per cent of participants could not agree that CSIRO employees are paid fairly for work performed in terms of total remuneration. 48 per cent did not agree (based on personal experience) that high-quality performance is usually rewarded at CSIRO.

51 per cent of respondents did not think that CSIRO made adequate use of non-financial recognition and rewards to encourage good performance. The survey reported that reward and recognition ratings at CSIRO were significantly below national and global benchmarks.

A quarter of staff participating (26 per cent) did not believe they had the opportunity for development and growth at CSIRO.

Performance process

The APA cycle ‘provides a framework for performance management, which facilitates effective communication of work requirements, alignment of corporate and individual goals, performance improvement, training and development requirements,’ the enterprise agreement states.

APA’s run over a twelve-month period with required timeframes that include key dates in August and September.

  • 31 August – deadline for review (Stage 3) of existing APAs
  • 30 September – objective setting (Stage 1) of new APAs.

Staff who, given reasonable opportunity fail to complete APA processes within these timeframes will not be eligible for performance rewards.

Likewise, managers who fail to make every effort for eligible staff under direct supervision to participate in the APA process will not be eligible for performance rewards.

Know Your Rights

Track record

While APA rules apply across the whole organisation, responsibility for the management of the processes is devolved to Business Units. However, the requirement to ensure that ‘consistently applied and transparent processes’ are achieved throughout CSIRO has often been the subject of tension.

In 2017, the Staff Association lodged a formal dispute alleging widespread breaches of the required timeframes of the Annual Performance Agreement (APA) process in several CSIRO business units including the inconsistent application of reward assessment procedures.

Related content

APA processes also ran into trouble at Data 61 in 2018, with swift action from Staff Association workplace delegates securing improvements to promotions processes including increased resources to cope with demand and better notification procedures to meet APA deadlines.

The Staff Association is currently monitoring the performance review process across CSIRO and members that have concerns about the application of APAs in a Business Unit or functional area are encouraged to contact the union on a confidential basis.

Member support

Staff Association members receive access to advice, support and representation for all APA matters. These include:

  • Factsheets on APAs and Training, Learning and Development
  • Access to personal support via our network of workplace delegates
  • Specialist technical advice from Staff Association organisers for complex matters.

Make sure your workplace rights are protected during the APA process. If you’re not yet a member, join the us today by emailing or speak to your local delegate or organiser.


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