You have a negative image in mind as soon as someone says ‘sarkari daftar’ – the disoriented work flow, extreme levels of procrastination. Government operations have suffered ill-repute for long. As most organizations in the private sector toil away to make profits and survive, most public sector entities work towards achieving only the bare minimum. The default, stereotyped belief about government servants is that they consciously or unconsciously underperform because they have no reason to fear. The work culture in government offices is often identified by a lack of one. Considering that the estimate strength of central government workforce is around 31 lakh, a lack of dedicated personnel management across departments within Central government should be a matter of concern. There is no valid proof as to how such a large workforce is being managed and utilized. And government jobs are enviously protected.
Narendra Modi’s government has initiated several reforms in the central government offices like introduction of biometric attendance to monitor the attendance and working hours of employees. Recently, the government has proposed the weeding out of inefficient and non-functioning senior employees by making them retire early. But it is for certain that a longstanding, disorganized process needs a paradigm shift on a fundamental level to improve the efficiency of government offices at large.
That being said, how can a dedicated Human Resource function serve as an enabler across various Government departments thereby improving public services? Below are ways HR would enrich the overall functioning of the government offices:
- Increased efficiency – The popular belief that public servants are highly inefficient is not completely unfounded. Public servants can rarely be held personally accountable for not being proactive.
- Employee engagement – Engagement is a concept which is completely alien to them. In government offices, where the average age of an employee is far more than the average age of an employee working with a private company, it would take a different approach to convince the staff to take ownership of their work. Nevertheless, it is an imperative as government employees must feel more responsible about their duties. An able HR professional could facilitate an employee engagement program crafted to suit a particular department.
- Periodic changes in policies - Like private organizations, government organizations are not immune to dynamic changes. Policies need to be evaluated and reformed periodically to enhance productivity.
- Onboarding strategies - An HR professional would help all the employees be acquainted with the various policies of the government as an employer and help new employees understand their role and duties. “Lack of a dedicated HR function is really frustrating for a government servant. There are Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964 laying down the code of conduct and that’s pretty much it. An employee needs a human point of contact for various queries or dissents related to promotion, appraisals, employee development, leaves, transfers etc. Lack of the same creates uncertainty. We track all our HR related issues in addition to the regular work. This is unproductive for us govt servants and the govt both.” Said Pratik Dixit, Inspector (Excise).
- An L&D strategy that actually imparts skills – ‘Trainings’ is a necessary activity across industries. But it’s debatable how many employees in government offices are able to gauge the importance of upgrading their skills or gain new ones for that matter. A sincere HR would make sure that trainings are not just routine but value-adding activities. “One of the factors challenging the human resource development in India are the dearth of trained and dedicated human resource administrators and inadequate infrastructure for providing adequate in-service training and professional education to all civil servants who are engaged in administration at regular periodicity.” Human Resource Development in the 21st Century, P. N. Gautam and S. N. Goel.
With millennials joining the government offices with their fresh approach, things are likely to change in a favourable way in the coming years. But the introduction of an HR function will only be an add-on to this gradual modification.