The role of HRM in new public management



For most, human resources management (HRM) is better known within the context of private institutions. HRM generally involves proper procurement, evaluation, recruitment, and training of job candidates or applicants. In addition to this, the HR Department is tasked to administer and oversee benefit programs and manage employees. This is seen every day in most private companies and is an integral part of any company’s survival and, most especially, its success. This is how private organizations are able to find, improve and maintain one of their most valuable resources – human resources – or what is also called human capital. Through the application of different methods and techniques for increased employee growth, effectiveness, and retention, many companies within the private sector have flourished.

Within the public sector in the Philippine setting, the role of HRM, especially in local government units (LGUs), is related to the forecasting and planning of human capital, selection and staffing, development and training, performance management, employee discipline, and the promotion of the productivity and welfare of each employee. All these are vital elements to the success of any organization as HRM marshals the productive capabilities of its employees or members. Conceivably, HRM in the public sector could be a major influence in public sector change through the development of human capital.

Fortunately, within the last few decades, many theorists and practitioners started looking closely at how HR strategies and theories could be used in the public sector in order to improve the quality of public service.
In the past, the public sector delivered public services and formed its organization through the bureaucratic hierarchy, direct control, centralization, planning and self-sufficiency. In the 1980s, these bureaucratic concepts, with reference to Max Weber, began to be regarded as “no longer relevant” in the present and, therefore, had to be dropped. The emerging recommendation of numerous experts was to utilize market-based public service management, or enterprise culture. The adaptation of these new methods was labelled New Public Management (NPM). Under NPM, tall hierarchies are replaced with flatter and more responsive structures; emphasis is now more on quality; customer satisfaction is emphasized; relations to employment are changed, and result-based management is introduced. In HR, performance-based incentives are utilized as well as performance-related pay; and instead of fixed salaries, pay is locally determined.

In the Philippine setting, from the Civil Service Commission, the Human Resource Management Officers (HRMOs), the Local Chief Executive (LCE), the Presiding Officer, to the Sanggunian, different roles and responsibilities have been set in order to disaggregate separable functions and decentralize management in order to improve quality and performance outcomes. As service delivery in the public sector now focuses more on quality and customer satisfaction, it is only fitting that the public sector makes sure its employees meet the higher standards and expectations. These can be achieved through the use of NPM strategies and concepts, particularly in the field of HRM.

However, the role of HRM in the public sector is still in a developing stage. A study done by the Civil Service Commission in 2012 assessed the state of HRM in Civil Service in the Philippines in terms of HR management and standards; management of records, systems and programs; and the competency level of the HRMOs. The assessment revealed that in terms of HRM practices (coaching and performance reviews, identification of development needs and assessment of employee competencies, career development, assessment of learning and development programs, and the implementation of policies), the percentage of compliance with Civil Service policies was low. This highlighted the need to improve monitoring and assessment strategies. Given the significance of HRM in the public sector, it is vital that these evaluation strategies be put in place in order to continually improve the public sector.

Given this, the connection between public management and HRM is coherent with efforts to create a methodical response to the restructuring initiatives within the public sector. This can be done through the achievement of operational and staff efficiencies, ultimately affecting the sector through reductions to expenditure by the government, increased quality of service leading to citizen and employee satisfaction.

Allan Pamis is a legislative lawyer in the Office of the Senate President. He is also a licensed real estate broker and appraiser. He earned his Political Science, M.B.A., and Law degrees from the De La Salle University. He is currently enrolled in the DBA program of the same university. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty and its administrators.


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