The Australian Public Service Commission says public sector bosses need “political nous” to get to the top.

The PSC’s new employee census shows 52 per cent of Australian Public Service employees believe that senior leadership in their agency was of a high quality, up from 46 per cent in 2013.

The Commission says the figures show a gain for the “senior leadership quality, visibility and communication,” of Canberra's mandarins.

But it warns that it will not be enough for the next generation to reach their dream public sector jobs.

“This environment is characterised by a drive for improved productivity, a drive for improved efficiency and effectiveness and transformational change,” the Commission wrote.

“Effective leadership in such an environment requires political nous, strategic thinking, people and interaction skills, anticipating future change and enabling organisations and people to proactively manage change before circumstances force change upon them.”

Just half of respondents to the census agreed their senior leaders were sufficiently “visible”, while only 42 per cent believed there was effective communication between their department's top bosses and staff.

Eighty per cent of the rank-and-file APS and 79 per cent of middle management said they had a “good immediate supervisor”, while 64 per cent of APS workers said they felt encouraged to do better at their work by their immediate boss.

“As previously noted, Senior Executive Service officers typically have a more positive view of most aspects of the workplace when compared to other employees,” the notes state.

“Results from the 2015 employee census show that SES have overwhelmingly positive perceptions of their immediate supervisors, with 87% reporting that they have a good immediate supervisor.

“Employees at other levels also report largely positive perceptions of their immediate supervisor and the encouragement they receive from them, however the results are lower than for SES officers.”