Cyclical staffing assessment

Understanding cyclical staffing assessments

The Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument requires that deputy heads assess on a cyclical basis, at least once every 5 years, adherence to the requirements established in the instrument, the Public Service Employment Act, other applicable statutes and regulations, the Public Service Commission (PSC)’s Appointment Policy, as well as organizational staffing policies and the sub-delegation instrument.

Cyclical staffing assessments provide deputy heads and the PSC with:

  • a robust review of the application of appointment authorities
  • assurance that staffing activities comply with legislative and policy requirements.

Cyclical staffing assessments and ongoing monitoring are interrelated

Cyclical assessments and ongoing monitoring look at staffing from different angles — and both are essential. They complement each other by providing a full picture of a department or agency’s staffing system.

Ongoing monitoring is a continuous process that enables ongoing course correction: departments and agencies observe, track and record information on staffing-related activities (may include effectiveness and efficiency reviews, time to staff, internal data analysis, staffing trends, hiring demographics).

Cyclical staffing assessments are part of a periodic process of self-examination based on information from different sources, including ongoing monitoring findings. Through cyclical staffing assessments, deputy heads take a broad look at the health of the organizational staffing system and identify areas that need to be strengthened, as well as potential measures to address weaknesses.

Assessing compliance

While departments and agencies are accountable for adhering to all legislative and policy requirements, deputy heads can determine the depth and extent of the requirements to be assessed.

As a starting point, consider core requirements that assure the integrity of the staffing system, such as:

  • merit
  • official languages
  • priority entitlements
  • employment equity
  • accommodation measures
  • preference to veterans

You can use the PSC’s Staffing Oversight Reference Tool to design your staffing monitoring and oversight activities according to your organization’s specific context and risks. While the tool is not an exhaustive list of all staffing-related requirements, and its use is optional, it lists various requirements stemming from legislation, regulations and related policies and instruments.

This should be complemented by a risk assessment to identify the areas and requirements that the cyclical staffing assessment should focus on.

To identify risks, consider:

  • previous ongoing monitoring results
  • staffing-related complaints
  • grievances or investigations requests
  • dialogue with human resources practitioners and bargaining agents
  • PSC system-wide oversight findings
  • Survey of Non-partisanship and Staffing
  • any other relevant information

As well as policy and legislative requirements, you may wish to examine other areas at risk such as time to staff, quality of hire or internal guidance, with a view to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of your organizational staffing system.

Conducting the assessment

Determine who is best-placed to assess compliance with requirements, and consider leveraging the expertise of your internal audit or human resources units. Deputy heads of smaller organizations may request the support of the PSC to conduct the cyclical staffing assessment on their behalf.

There is no prescribed approach or methodology for the assessment, but it should be rigorous and provide for reliable, relevant results. The assessment should also include an evaluation of the organizational staffing framework (policies in place, sub-delegation instrument) and examine a sample of appointment files for compliance. You can draw on internal audit expertise to define the scope and methodology for these assessments, and you can also consult the PSC.

The scope of the assessment should include an adequate sample to understand the health of your staffing system from a compliance perspective. Variables to consider include:

  • volume of appointments
  • categories of appointments:
    • advertised and non-advertised
    • external and internal
    • indeterminate, terms and acting appointments
  • headquarters and regions
  • types of jobs (categories, groups, levels)
  • executive and non-executive appointments

Reporting results

Cyclical staffing assessments must provide deputy heads with reliable and useful information from which to draw meaningful conclusions on the health of their staffing system. They also provide the PSC with a deeper understanding of the strengths and challenges across public service staffing, while informing policy direction, organizational support and guidance, and system-wide oversight.

Departments and agencies must share their cyclical staffing assessment results of selected requirements with the PSC in the year the assessment is completed, either separately or as a component of their annual reporting to the PSC (in Annex D of the Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument).

There is no format for reporting cyclical staffing assessment results, but they may include:

  1. information on the scope and methodology of the assessment, such as the sample examined, period assessed and sources of information
  2. results of risk assessment that informed review
  3. results of assessment, including both areas of compliance and non-compliance
  4. any observations and conclusions resulting from the assessment, including corrective measures or improvements (taken or planned)

Departments and agencies are not required to report to the PSC on their ongoing monitoring activities, although these are equally important to organizations’ understanding of their staffing system.

Tools and support

Consult the Staffing Oversight Reference Tool and the letter to heads of human resources - Overview of the results of the organizational cyclical assessments.

For more information, or if you belong to a small organization seeking to establish an arrangement with the PSC for your cyclical assessment, please contact your Staffing Support Advisor who will be pleased to assist you.

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