Human resource is the essential resource needed for the success of every business, industry or organization. Arguably, it can be referred to as the backbone of the world’s economy.
“Take away my people, but leave my factories, and soon grass will grow on the factory floors. Take away my factories, but leave my people, and soon we will have a new and better factory.” — Andrew Carnegie
According to Bratton and Gold, human resource management is “a strategic approach to managing employment relations which emphasises that leveraging people’s capabilities is critical to achieving sustainable competitive advantage, this being achieved through a distinctive set of integrated employment policies, programmes and practices.” This makes us understand better how the proper management of human resource is capable of making an organization grow constantly, and on a national level, ensure the development of the nation’s economy.
Unfortunately, we have seen how Ghana’s public sector has been backlashed and tagged as a sector with apathetic and clock-watching workers. The President of the Republic of Ghana did not leave that fact out when he pleaded to be plain with workers. He said,
“We arrive at work late and then spend the first hour in prayer; we are clock watchers and leave in the middle of critical work because it is the official closing time. Everything comes to a stop when it rains and we seem to expect the rest of the world also to stop. We have no respect for the hours set aside for work… we pray, we eat, we visit during working hours. We spend hours chatting on the telephone when customers are waiting to be served, thereby increasing our labour costs. We take a week off for every funeral. And then we wonder why we are not competitive. The service that we provide in our hospitality industry does not match that of our competitors and many of us have sadly come around to accept poor service as the norm. There is a particularly pernicious attitude to property that we find at work. There is the petty stealing of paper, envelopes, tea, milk and other equipment. There is the reckless use of office vehicles. Employees show no inclination to protecting the things that are in the offices and factories, and extreme reluctance to stand up for what we know to be right in our workplaces in general. If we are going to make the changes we all want, then we have to start with a change in attitude to work.”
This unveils the big question; how is the workforce of the country managed? Are they being treated as stakeholders or they are being undermined? Many workers across the country have shared their experiences of how they have been intimidated and made to feel they are being favoured to perform their respective duties. Many workers have coiled into their shells like tortoises and snails and will not selflessly work for the betterment of this nation due to bad attitude and management skills that some managers express towards workers. For instance, in some organizations, if a worker dares to suggest a new and efficient way of performing a task; he/she will be frustrated and intimidated to shut up instead of his/her innovation encouraged. When it comes to personal development, it is not a priority for these unethical managers, who think that the continuous development of a worker means the worker will overtake him/her in terms of salary or positions. So they will rather frustrate the worker and let the organization lag behind to satisfy their selfish ego that they are the managers of the organization.
The most serious part is that in this era of demographic transition, where young workers can be guided and directed to harness the demographic dividend that comes with it, is that they are rather looked down on and victimized at the least mistake. Committing mistakes by young professionals is not something that should not be expected but managers need to make it a point to monitor their actions and correct them where they go wrong while encouraging them to bring out the best in them for the development of the organization and the country as a whole.
Professionally managing workers is the way we need take, especially in our public sector. If there will be a change in our plight as a country, it is going to come from the workers. Renee West once said,
“You can have the best strategy and the best building in the world, but if you don’t have the hearts and minds of the people who work with you, none of it comes to life.”
It is, therefore, necessary for managers to pay attention to their relations with workers and to treat them as key stakeholders in the organization. Also, managers have to be concerned and in fact be committed to the continuous development of workers especially the young professionals.
“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.” —Lawrence Bossidy, GE
In a nutshell, if the intimidation, frustration and victimization of workers in the public sector will be replaced with the showing of care, encouragement and good guidance, the negative tag on the public sector workforce will be a thing of the past.