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Seminar in Public Human Resources Administration

Question 1. Identify and describe the four public personnel management functions (PADS).

Human resource management (HRM) is focused on managing the relationships between the manager and employees. When applied to the public sector, HRM is necessary to "hire, develop and train employees, establish payment systems, set conditions of employment and develop a coherent set of employment policies" (Brown, 2004, 305). Being an important process in an organization, HRM performs four fundamental functions which are often referred as PADS: Planning, Acquisition, Development, and Sanction.

The planning function is the basement for all other functions. It comprises planning of the workforce needed to perform the established budget for the whole organization. HR (human resource) managers also analyze the job position and employees' performance management. Based on the retrospective evaluation and strategy of an organization, the HR department elaborates a list of pay outs of additional benefits to the employees depending on a range of factors, such as personal performance, work experience, educational background, and others.

The second HRM function, the acquisition refers to the process of personnel recruiting in an organization. HRM defines a set of practices and policies needed to select candidates for the open positions effectively. These could include questioning, interviewing, professional and psychological testing.

HR department is also responsible for the further development of an organization's employees. Therefore, HR specialists develop training programs, organize seminars and roundtables for the employees, and suggest other opportunities for the enhancement of the workforce's qualification. The development function also includes periodic evaluation of the employees through the certification of personnel. Moreover, HR managers develop incentive plans which are focused on the improvement of employees' motivation to perform better.

Finally, HRM is accountable for maintaining the sanction function in an organization. That is, HRM assures that both sides, the managers and employees, perform their obligations toward one another in due form and time. Sanctions on employees refer primarily to their job duties, while sanctions imposed on the management team are aimed to ensure that employees' rights are preserved. The special attention is put to the health and safety standards of the working process.

Question 2. What is a personnel system?

A personnel system can be defined as a set of rules, practices, and procedures applied to maintain the fundamental HRM functions in an organization. There are four basic HRM systems and a range of combined approaches which are widely implemented in a wide variety of governments and organizations.

The traditional and oldest approach to maintaining HR management in an organization is referred to as the Political patronage. This system presumes that job positions are mostly filled by the candidates supported by the front-runners of an organization, which are the top management, property owners, and political leaders. In case of public organizations, the "generation" of leaders has formed political parties and took the important positions in main governmental structures.

As maintaining an organization requires not only political support but also a certain level of qualification, another HRM system appeared which was called the Civil service or Merit system. In public organizations, the society demanded more rationality and transparency of the governmental service. This caused a shift from the traditional patronage system to the merit approach. The civil service system is based on the principle that the candidates are approved due to their qualification and experience, personal performance, and ability to carry out their job duties properly. The public organizations in the most of the developed countries has shifted from the traditional systems "into the active management of change, much more proactive and positive management of people, more emphasis on teamwork and much greater delegation to the line" (Humphreys & Worth-Butler, 1999).

The collective bargaining approach has appeared along with the development of unions. This system defines the HRM functions through the negotiation process between the organization's management and workforce unions. Collective bargaining may be used to define procedures of hiring, motivating, further on-job educating, and punishing of an organization's employees. Thus, the main terms and conditions for the workers are negotiated between the owners (or managers) and unions.

Resulting from the anti-discrimination and civil rights movements, the affirmative action approach has supplemented the range of existing HRM systems. This system imposed obligations on the HR department and an organization to the higher certain number (or percentage) of employees from a traditionally discriminated group. The affirmative action system is aimed to prevent the underrepresentation of the organization's employees based on the attributes of gender, race, age, and political or national minority.

Question 3. What are the assumptions that underpin traditional public personnel management systems?

In order to shift from the traditionally established patronage system to the transparent and reliable civil service system, the public sector HRM needs to be coherent with a range of assumptions imposed on the performance of the fundamental HRM functions. First of all, the working process in the public sector should be organized so to provide commonly shared services transmitted from the government to the general public (such as social security, citizenship matters, education, medical treatment, and other social products and services). Besides, the traditional HRM has to assume that the governmental services should be divided into service packages with duties arranged to the certain job positions and public organizations. As far as these organizations are bureaucratic by their nature, the job positions and duties remain relatively unchanged over time. We have to note, however, that this assumption could be severely argued in the modern constantly changing society which may require more flexible governmental system and HRM approach to be satisfied with the rendered public services.

The most important point in establishing traditions of the merit HRM system is that the work performance and employees' competencies should be assessed independently from the individuals' personal characteristics, support of the organizational leaders, or other factors not related to the maintaining of job duties of an appointed person. The HRM should provide an effective payment and motivation system, based on such performance evaluation. The processes of personnel recruitment and selection should also be focused on the skills and qualifications necessary to perform the duties at a certain job position.

Question 4. Describe the key elements in workforce planning. For each element, discuss how much progress your agency has made in workforce planning.

One of the fundamental HRM functions refers to the planning of the organization's workforce. This process should not only involve the quantitative determination of the number of employees needed to achieve the organizational goals but also be qualitatively compliant with the organization's requirements and strategic plans. The effective workforce planning system enhances the organization's performance in the market and provides it with strong support in the society.

Taking as an example the Commonwealth of Kentucky Workforce Planning Guide (2013), we can define six key elements in the workforce planning process (see Exhibit 1). The first element is setting the strategic direction. That is, the organization has to define its strategic plan, goals, and requirements for the workforce needed.

Then the organization conducts a deep analysis of the available staff and of the labor market. This element includes two phases related to the identifying of the workforce demand and supply sides. The HR department needs to provide a forecast of the organization's demand on the workforce based on the analysis of the planned work and required staff to perform the duties.

The third element is defined as conducting the gap analysis. The HR specialists compare the workforce demand and supply forecasts and obtain either a gap or a surplus in the available labor.

Further, HRM needs to develop appropriate strategies related to defining the positions and duties, their classification, staff development policies, recruitment and selection procedures, and knowledge transfer systems.

The fifth element requires implementation of the developed strategies to life. However, the effective workforce planning system has to obtain assurance of several critical factors before the implementation is initiated. HRM needs to ensure that the strategies will obtain executive support and all necessary resources. Besides, the roles and responsibilities need to be strictly clarified within the established timelines and determined measures for performance evaluation. The whole plan needs to be communicated to the employees and management team.

The final element comes out of the necessity to continuously improve the workforce planning and includes procedures on monitoring, evaluation and revision of the HR strategies. The HR department needs to revise the supply and demand sides, overall organizational goals, and effectiveness of the HR strategies' implementation.

Question 5. Describe the HR manager's enhanced role in seeking productivity improvements.

The organization's productivity highly depends on the company's labor resources. Therefore, the HR department's ability to seek and employ highly qualified specialists influences the overall performance of the organization critically. The HR specialists are responsible for assisting the other department heads in the process of the employees' team formation.

The role of HRM in the organization's productivity improvement is based on their position as mediators between the organizational needs and the workforce market supply. Besides, the HR managers have significant experience in defining the personal skills and character of the hired personnel which can positively influence the outcomes of the organization's activity.

Also, the HR managers help the department head to define applicable payment systems and benefits for the employees based on their performance and qualifications. This may lead to the more efficient cost allocation in the organization and provide higher productivity level as a result.

What is more, the HR specialists work as neutral experts, and this allows shifting from the patronage system to the civil service approach. The neutrality principle provides the organization with the most competent and skilled employees while the HR department rejects the supported but low qualified candidates. Besides, one of the HRM functions is the development of the workforce. This includes also constant monitoring of the employees performance and signaling to the management about the inefficient and low productive workers. Thus, the HR managers help to improve efficiency in the organization through the reduction of costs arranged to the inefficient performers and by providing further development and on-job education of the employees.

In the modern economic relations, the role of HR managers is further enhanced with the growing development of the privatization initiated in the traditionally public sectors of the economy like street repair, medicine, building maintenance, and other social services. The HR specialists are often involved as intermediaries in the negotiation process who must evaluate the influence of privatization of the workforce and the resulting organization's productivity in the public sector.