National

CSIRO morale plummeting, survey shows

CSIRO's staff morale has crashed and there is a growing chasm between senior management and staff.

An internal survey of 1200 of CSIRO's 5400 staff revealed sentiment in the science organisation had plummeted, with a minority of employees saying they still trusted that senior management had a clear vision and were communicating well.

The bad survey results, on the back of mass job cuts, have prompted elite managers to visit worksites to quell the discordance. 

CSIRO spokesman Huw Morgan said the organisation knew the large restructure would be disruptive. 

"More than half of the survey felt they had been impacted 'quite a bit' or 'a great deal' by the changes," Mr Morgan said.

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"What we are doing is making sure senior management get out to the worksites to talk with staff to show they acknowledge the magnitude of change, listen to people's concerns and provide as much clarity as possible on matters that affect staff."

The union representing staff said 800 positions were scheduled to go by the end of the financial year. 

The CSIRO Staff Association's Sam Popovski said no more than a third of staff believed senior management had a clear vision for CSIRO's future or the capacity to communicate a clear direction.

This was down from more than 50 per cent who expressed confidence in their leaders in 2012.

"This disturbing report – while both candid and credible – paints a picture of a dedicated workforce that has been demoralised by a year of constant cutbacks," Mr Popovski said.

"It underscores the size and gravity of the problem that incoming chief executive Dr Larry Marshall must immediately address when he takes the reins in January.

"Staff need real changes to boost morale, not just spin and business-as-usual leadership."

The survey was commissioned at the request of the CSIRO board and done in August and September. 

"The results are even worse when compared against international benchmarks where an average two-thirds of staff expressed confidence in the vision and competence of senior leaders," Mr Popovski said.

He said the report conveyed the workforce's "strong sense of disappointment … regarding the adequacy of CSIRO's engagement with external stakeholders, primarily government, to secure funding."

CSIRO's funding was cut by $115 million in the May federal budget. 

The survey showed most staff still believed in CSIRO and the public service. 

Almost two-thirds said they felt they had the support of their immediate supervisor and had good interpersonal relationships with co-workers.

Eighty per cent of respondents said they remained strong believers in the goals and objectives of the organisation.

A similar proportion said they were willing to work beyond what was required to help CSIRO succeed.

CSIRO's workforce is expected to fall from 6400 last year to about 5200 next year.