What is Personnel Administration ?

Employees form the core and the backbone of any organization and public organizations are no different. According to authors William Mosher and J. Donald Kingsley, the key to better governance lies in effective personnel management.

For effective personnel administration there are certain criteria that need to be fulfilled like:

  • Highly qualified workforce of civil servants
  • Fair and equitable wages
  • Rights of representation
  • Work conditions to be decided taking the employee choices and needs in consideration
  • Establishing the prestige of civil service employment

Classification is the first step in personnel management wherein similar kinds of posts are grouped together based on their duties and responsibilities. A formal classification plan shows all the classes with each existing job and position suitably placed with respect to each other in an orderly manner. This in turn is supplemented by rules, regulations for their administration, interpretation and amendment.

The second step becomes position classification which explains the individual position of that role within the public administration machinery. It also defines the duties and responsibilities for which the individual holding the position shall be accountable for.

The third step is the process of recruitment. Recruitment in government organization is all about finding the right people for the right job. It involves having good public relations, employment campaigns and effective systems of selection of the people.

The next step is the training. Training develops skills and habits and also develops the requisite mental attitude and morale of the civil servants. Training helps the civil servants to carry out their day to day job related transactions with precision, adapt to the changing socio-economic needs, and understand the larger and broader picture of administration and also to make their job interesting and be able to take newer responsibilities.

Next comes, the promotion or the increase in rank or status. It is essential that the employees are provided with timely promotion to develop their talent and increase their morale and motivation levels. While the process means increase in pay grade and responsibilities for the employees, the same process allows the management to select and pick the best suitable person from an available pool to fulfill higher responsibilities.

The last step is the pay and service of the civil servants. The salary scales of civil servants are based on several factors like:

  • Cost of living
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • Man-power availability which means that if the manpower for a particular job is in abundance then everybody gets low wages which maintains parity
  • Legislation like minimum wages act or the Pay Commission’s directives in India
  • Social considerations of accepted difference between the high and the low salaries
  • Relativity with respect to similar positions in other organization and countries
  • Regional variation

The service conditions include leave, holidays, hours of work, accommodation, healthcare, working conditions and other miscellaneous aspects.

One of the oldest problems that plague the personnel administration in all countries is the liberal seepage of politics in all its aspects. Despite of the attempts of the scholars to separate politics and administration, the divorce exists only in textbooks and on paper. The personnel administration of the public organization has emerged as a triumph of technique over purpose. While the civil servants are selected through rigorous methods of written examination, personal interviews, scores, the rule of three, split-digit ranking etc, but the question remains whether they actually serve the objectives of the organization.

The system which cites itself as based on merit degenerates into a protectionist system. The entrance exams are designed to test competence for jobs at junior levels only and later there is no system of objective evaluation of desired competence level for senior and complex roles. For most parts, these exams rarely test the attitude and seem outdated and redundant to meet the challenges of the current needs. The career growth as well, within the system is based on patronage and politics rather than qualification and merit. The disqualification based on incompetence is rarely ever heard in public organizations and even when it happens, the government bears heavy expenditure for the same. The presence of an unnecessarily large workforce also is a problem with the government organizations. A lean structure in these organizations would mean efficient and timely performance.


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