The objective of this assignment is to analyse the strategic policy and practices in the organisation that I have been working for in the context of HRM issues. I have been working in Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) for more than 24 years. This length of service has given me a chance to work in different organisations of the government witnessing a huge number of relevant issues in different organisations that could be discussed here. But due to the word limitation set for this assignment, I will present three HRM functions practiced in the Ministry of Establishment which deals the HRM issues and how they relate to the subject in hand.
My position in the organisation
BCS officers are generally posted from one organisation to another for a time span of 2-3 years. Normally no one is allowed to serve in one position for more than 3 years. In this process I worked as The Deputy Secretary (Career Planning & Training) in the Ministry of Establishment (MoE) from 2004 to 2007. So I was actively involved in formulation and implementation of HRM policy in Bangladesh because MoE is the ministry that plans, develops and implements all the HRM strategy and play the role of HR Department of the government. So I will discuss the HR strategy and practices in BCS on the basis of my practical experience in the MoE.
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Ministry of Establishment (MoE) is one of the 33 ministries in Bangladesh. It is like the HR mainframe for the government managing HR issues of all the BCS officers working in 33 ministries, 68 Departments, 990 field offices and in every embassy/high commission in every country (except Israel) which has a diplomatic mission of Bangladesh. In fact it is the personal department of all the BCS officers working for the government. It has its officers working in Bangladesh High Commission, London too. BCS Administration officers who work in diplomatic missions are recruited trained and are posted/transferred to diplomatic missions by this Ministry.
The main objective of MoE is to work as the personal department of the government recruiting, developing and managing human resources that are involved in different government offices. It formulates reviews and develops strategic policy, rules and regulations for HRM practices in the government offices and interprets HRM related rules and regulations. In fact it deals with all the HRM issues relating to smooth functioning of public administration in Bangladesh. It works as the appointing authority for all the BCS officers and administer the personal management services of all the civil servants working in the public administration.
Overview of HR strategy in MoE
MoE has a strong bureaucratic culture, which is guided by well defined rules and regulations that reflects the role culture which was identified by Charles Handy on the basis of an article published by Roger Harrison in 1972, where role of a person is more important than the person in it. The basis of appointment in MoE is the ability of a person to perform in a role. There is no room for highly ambitious people in MoE who may fill frustrated because their talents alone can not help them to progressively move up to higher positions which is based on seniority that comes from the length of service. We can also see a poor pay structure for the employees but other benefits including free phones at home, free transport (chauffer driven), free accommodation/housing allowance, medical allowance, a very good pension at the end of the service and the scope of enjoying VIP facilities in almost everywhere in the society is somehow balancing the compensation package to attract talent people. We can also see a unitary approach between the government and the employees where the employer produces the employees to be part of the employer so that the interests of both become same. This is why we have never witnessed any strike or protests against any government decision by the civil servants. Their attitude is also tuned through on-the-job training to give them a feeling that they are a part of the government. The most attractive feature of Bangladesh civil service is the rock-solid Job security where one can serve for entire life with the government and retire at the age of 57. We also see an over staffing tendency in the HR strategy where more people are appointed for a function which could be managed by involving less. The whole service is governed by different relevant service rules and regulations.
Analysing HRM practices in MoE
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As mentioned earlier due to word limit constrain we will analyse only three important HRM functions of MoE which are: Recruitment and selection process, Training and development and Disciplinary procedure.
Recruitment and selection process
Though the recruitment and selection process varies from organisation to organisation but the model that works for most of the organisations is presented in the following diagram:
Model of Recruitment/Selection Process in organisations
Applicant applies for job
Goal: Use for preliminary "rough cuts" to decide whether an applicant meets the basic qualifications for a job.
Examples: Application forms,
Applicants who can't meet basic qualifications are rejected
Applicant meets basic qualifications.
Goal: Determine the most qualified applicants from among those who meet basic qualifications.
Examples: Written tests, performance
Applicants who meets basic qualifications, but are less qualified than others, are rejected
Applicant among best qualified.
Goal: Make final check before making offer to applicants.
Examples: Drug tests, background checks
Applicants who are among best qualified, but, fails contingent selection, are rejected
Applicant receives job offer
Source: Robins, S. P. Judge, T. A. & Sanghi, S., (2009)
Analysis of Recruitment/selection practices in MoE
Recruitment rule that covers job specification/description and a step by step procedure for recruitment/selection is there. The maximum age limit to enter the service is 30 and it aims to recruit fresh graduates. Previous work experience is not valued. Unlike most of the countries in the world Bangladesh has a fully independent and autonomous body called the Bangladesh Public Service Commission (BPSC), comprising of experts pulled from different universities and retired civil servants who are recognised as experts, working as the recruiting agency for government jobs including BCS. The most rigorous recruitment procedure of the country takes almost a year to process a batch of 200 officers on an average from more than 150,000 candidates applying in each batch. Competition for this service is very high because of the social status and prestige of the service. BCS jobs are recognised as the best jobs in the country. An ordinary person becomes an extra ordinary only by joining this service. The total number of positions in this service is almost 4600 and recruitment takes place against clear vacancy with 10% extra people recruited to cover the leave/temporary vacancies. As the rule requires BPSC to advertise for the exact vacant positions at the time of the advertisement which is the first step of the procedure, so they can not recruit against the exact vacant positions because some positions become vacant during the year long recruitment process. This is a barrier which always leaves some vacant positions on the day of appointment. Selection is completed in two steps which are preliminary selection and final selection. BPSC advertises through most circulated daily newspaper and this advertisement has all the information to apply for the job including job specification/description, how to apply, step by step selection procedure etc. The candidates get about 21 days to apply between the advertisement and the last date of application. They are required to apply by filling up a form which is designed to help BPSC in the primary scrutiny. Incomplete forms are rejected straight away in the primary scrutiny. A preliminary aptitude test for 100 marks is carried out to make the preliminary short list. The shortlisted candidates then go through a hard/thorough written test on 6 subjects. Those who pass the written tests go through an interview. The successful candidates are then referred to a thorough police verification procedure for any criminal record and a physical fitness test at the end. The physical fitness test is to ensure that no one enters the service with any terminal disease. So though time consuming, we see an intensive selection process in place to select the best through well excepted and tested selection process. The questions in the exam are set at such a standard that only the talented can pass. In fact the selection process of BCS officers is of such high standard and that alone give the selected a chance to claim as the best in the country.
Evaluation of Recruitment/Selection Process
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Though this process is more or less in line with the theory and the practices followed in most of the organisations but it is too much time consuming. A year for the process to complete is not acceptable. Moreover advertising for the vacant positions which are vacant at the time of advertisement and leaving the posts that became vacant during the year long selection process is a barrier which leaves some posts vacant after the final selection. Recruitment rules therefore needs to be reviewed immediately to recruit against exact number of vacancies at the final step of the recruitment. An advance calculation should be carried out on the basis of retirement age to find the positions that would become vacant during the selection process and those positions should be included in the selection process to leave no vacant position on the day of final selection. Another way of addressing this issue could be by reviewing the whole process and cutting down the time consumed for the process. If the first aptitude test is conducted online like many companies do nowadays the preliminary selection can be quicker.
The government recruits fresh graduates giving no value/preference to the experienced people and train them to make them fit for work. As full and comprehensive training is provided to develop officers the way the government wants, so not encouraging any previous job experience at the recruitment level seems logical. Their way of developing their officers is rather helpful for them because it's easy to mould fresh graduates to be what they want them to be. Experience people sometime develop attitudes through their experience that becomes difficult to change through trainings. No strike or protest against the government decision ever as yet is a testimony of government success in recruiting fresh graduates then developing them to be what the government want them to be.
Having BPSC as a fully independent authority acting as recruitment agent is very encouraging which insures influence-free and fair selection. Automation of BPSC can speed up the whole selection process. Introduction of online aptitude tests to shortlist 150000 candidates can help reducing processing time.
Training and Development
The Manpower Services Commission, (1981) defined training as "a planned process to modify attitude, knowledge or skill behaviour through learning experience to achieve effective performance in an activity or range of activities".
And defined development as "the growth or realisation of a person's ability, through conscious or unconscious learning"
As early as the 1930s, theorists such as Elton Mayo confirmed the strong identification of workers with their employers' businesses; people generally want to be involved and want work to be a learning experience. Fayol (1949) valued training for managers and proposed "on the job" training and identified training as a continuous process, not a brief or once occurring function. A model of HR development plan is presented in the diagram below:
Model of Human Resources Development Plan
Present and future needs
Human Resource Plan
Human Resources Stock take
Identification of Training Gap
Training Plan Aimed at Bridging Gap
Source: Association of Business Executives (2008)
Analysis of Training and Development Process in MoE
The BCS officers move through a two year long rigorous formal and on-the-job trainings at the beginning of their career. The formal trainings are conducted by the Military Academy, Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre (BPATC), BCS (Admin) Academy, Survey and Settlement Academy, Bangladesh Institute of Administration and Management, Academy for Planning and Development, Land Administration Training Centre and the Audit and Accounts office. The prime objective of the formal trainings is to develop a multifunctional ability in everyone so that they can work in any office and at any position of the government institutions which performs different functions for the government. They have to attain a certain grade (60% or above) in their training assessments at the end of every training in order to be confirmed in the service in two years of their service. Failing to do so leaves them liable to disciplinary action for inefficiency that calls for unqualified for further promotion and even termination of service. As they recruit the best of the bests, so no one so far has failed to attain the required grades in their trainings. On top of the compulsory trainings, every officer is provided with custom-designed/special training to prepare them for any special assignment that requires extra skills. They have compulsory training courses for junior mid and senior level officers with more for the juniors. So training in MoE is an ongoing/continuous process. Through which every officer is made to be an officer from a fresh graduate and taught to do their job in the best manner. It's the training that makes them different and superior to others which is acknowledged even by the private sector because the course contents and the delivery process are evaluated on a regular basis. As the government invests a huge sum in trainings for everyone, a mandatory service contract has to be signed by every officer to ensure that they serve for a certain period or pay for the training costs if they quit the job before that period. Normally the officers get their first posting after the two years of provisional period which they spend on trainings. After that everyone is transferred from one position to another on a regular interval of 2-3 years. So they get new assignment and in most case a new office to work in every three years.
Evaluation of Training and Development practices
A two year long training can be considered as an element of compensation paid to the employee by the employer through a huge training expenditure that makes the employee a perfect employee and worthy for their job. As they are trained to gain multifunction skills, they can easily cope with any challenging assignment.
Though MoE acts as the HR Department for all the civil servants but it didn't have any dedicated wing/department for HRP. Realising the need a separate wing called Career Planning and Training was established in 2003 with a set of people dedicated for HRP. An IT department to manage the database was also placed under it to support the wing in its research and planning activity. Previously a paper based time consuming human resource planning was conducted as and when required but now it's a continuous and technically modern process. CPT wing now manages an up-to-date database and can generate reports almost instantly. This is a notable positive step taken by the government to address the HRM issues in a systematic way. The need analysis for recruitment, resourcing, training etc are now well managed with IT support in place which has increased the overall performance of the government. The Career Development and Training wing of MoE and the Research and Development Department of Bangladesh Public Service Training Centre (BPATC) is regularly reviewing the need for trainings and designing and developing training curriculum to meet those needs. The standard of training is also highly valued because of the constant monitoring and evaluation process. Every trainee provides feedback evaluating the training and the facilitator conducting the training at the end of every deliberation. This is why these training are highly valued not only in the country but also in the South Asian region. In reorganisation of the standard of training provided in BPATC, this academy is given the responsibility to conduct training for civil servants of SARC countries.
Civil officers go through two months training in the Military Academy because they are appointed to lead contingent of army to tackle serious law and order at times. Civil officers sometimes require calling for military in aid of civil power to face challenging situation. Moreover the BCS officers are expected to actively participate in the war when the country is in war. So knowledge about military operations, tactics and the procedure of leading armed forces is necessary for every BCS officer. Spending two years in deferent training academy gaining multifunctional ability seems to be justified because the way they are shuffled in different positions on a regular basis they need to have multifunctional ability.
Officers are recruited to serve the government for their entire life. Percentage of resignation and dismissal before the actual retirement age is negligible. So the investment towards the training costs is justified. The training and development practices therefore seem to be in line with the need of the organisation.
Nankervis, Alan. Compton, Robert. & Baird, Marian., (2002) said "the purpose of discipline in the work place should be perceived clearly as a genuine attempt to ensure that expected employee behaviour and performance is maintained to required organisational standards." The primary objective of disciplinary action is to identify and rectify unacceptable work practices. A disciplinary model is presented in the diagram below:
The Disciplinary Model
Definition of discipline
Investigation of employee offence
Organisation discipline policy
Source: Nankervis, Alan. Compton, Robert. & Baird, M., (2002)
Disciplinary procedures practiced in MoE
If we analyse the discipline procedure practiced in MoE we can see a well tested set of rules for disciplinary actions. There are two types of penalty depending on the grievousness of the charge and the procedures for dealing these two types are different too. The charge that may call for the lowest minor punishment like "Censure" is managed following simple and straight forward procedure. The lowest minor punishment is "Censure" which is just a formal letter of warning. This procedure is managed unilaterally by the authorised officer to deal disciplinary cases with no third person involvement. The authorised officer can sentence "Censure" even with out any formal hearing by just reading the written statement and causes shown in reply to an allegation by the alleged person.
On the other hand the allegations that may call for a higher punishment like stopping annual pay increment for a certain period, demotion to a lower position, reduction to a lower pay-scale or termination of service is managed in a formal way giving ample opportunity to the alleged person to defend them. The procedure for disposing major penalty cases is similar to civil court cases where the accusing party has to prove the charges in front of a senior officer who acts like a judge (known as the enquire officer) and has to be senior to the alleged officer. The enquiry officer leads a formal hearing by calling both the parties by formal notice and taking notes of all the evidence presented by both the parties and giving formal written decision saying either guilty or not guilty by analysing all the evidences and showing the logic for his/her decision. If the alleged is not satisfied with the decision of the enquiry officer then they can appeal. The appeal-cases are tried just like civil cases and disposed by a panel of specifically assigned judges known as the appellate tribunal. The appeal procedure is exactly like the civil court procedure where the solicitors and the whole legal system get involved. If turned down by the appellate tribunal, the alleged can make a mercy petition to the President of the country. The mercy petition has no scope of any hearing and is solely decided by the President at his discretion.
The formal process of disciplinary action starts with framing of charges by the authorised officer which has to be formally sent to the alleged person with a notice asking them to show cause as to why s/he should not be sentenced to a proposed punishment. The alleged person then would have to show cause for not imposing that punishment. If the cause(s) are not considered to be satisfactory to drop the charge then the authorised officer will appoint an enquiry officer who will arrange formal hearing by notifying both the parties. The enquiry officer upon hearing both the parties and taking note of all the evidence presented by both the parties makes a decision as to the alleged person is guilty or not along with the reasoning for the decision and send the decision to the authorised officer. If the authorised officer thinks that a punishment has to be imposed then s/he has to issue a second notice along with the enquire report submitted by the enquiry officer to show cause for the second time why the punishment should not be imposed. If the authorised officer upon consideration of the enquiry report and the cause shown by the alleged person think that a punishment should be imposed then he will impose the punishment communicating it formally to the alleged person. On the other hand if the authorised officer at any stage considers that the alleged person is not liable for any punishment s/he can drop the charge. There is a provision of temporarily suspending the alleged person until the charge is sat-aside, depending on the grievousness of the charge and if the presence of the alleged at the work station is considered to be harmful for the government interest. During the temporary suspension period the alleged person is entitled to get a subsistence allowance but not the salary.
Evaluation of Disciplinary Procedures
Disciplinary procedures that are practiced in MoE are more or less like the standard model seen in most organisations. But this system is more inclined towards the employee which supports the Human Rights Campaign but is not very helpful for the senior management who may find it tough to get rid of a bad element quickly. So the process deserves a second thought. Sometime a too good system may prove problematic which we see here. So this system need to be reviewed to make it user friendly for both, the employer as well as it is now with the employees.
As dismissing a person is a time consuming process, so job security in BCS is found in its highest peak and the procedure of dismissal is employee friendly. As the appeal procedure involves the legal system, it becomes more time consuming and more difficult to dismiss even a serious offender.
As termination from government job leaves people unemployed for the rest of their life because no one employs such person, so a fair trial is provided to ensure ends of justice for major punishment which is justified. But too much inclination towards the alleged created a serious problem in firing bad elements quickly and smoothly when needed. So a balancing should be there enabling senior management to fire serious offender easily and quickly.
considering the overstaffing and poor pay strategy of the MoE it is relevant to mention that, observing the overstaffing tendency and the poor pay structure, a proposal was put forward by me when I was in the MoE proposing down-sizing the service and increasing pay scale with the savings coming out of it. The national think tank thought we have too many people in a small country. So if we use the ongoing opportunity of keeping more people performing a function which could be done by less people then we are creating employment opportunity for the society. On the other hand if we employ less people to do the same task with the same money going out from the government exchequer for their increased pay-scale then unemployment ratio in the society will increase with a negative impact in the society. Moreover the poor pay-scale was considered to be substantially compensated by a hand full of other benefits going with it. So the rejection of the downsizing proposal and increasing the pay-scale from the savings coming out of downsizing seems to be logical for Bangladesh.
On the basis of our observations in this analysis we can put forward the following recommendations for MoE:
The recruitment rules should be reviewed to accommodate recruitment against the positions that becomes vacant during the selection process.
The selection process should be reviewed to make it fast.
Automation of BPSC is necessary to speed up selection process.
The disciplinary procedures should be reviewed to make it user-friendly for both the parties not just for the employees.