Productivity Improvement in Public SectorIntroductionUntil recently, public organizations operated or provided their services to the public without regard to aspects of productivity improvement. According to Holzer and Lee (2004), environmental, personal, and organizational barriers limited the ability of the organizations to improve productivity with the respect to changes in demand and resources. However, in mid 1900s, increased competition for resources and customers from the private sector compelled public institutions to focus on productivity improvement programs as a way to preserve their public image. Productivity refers to output level with respect to the required input level.
Therefore, productivity improvement arises when the level of output (including amount of products or services) exceeds required level of input (including capital, raw materials, labour, and others). Besides preservation of public image, the organizations have been improving performance of public enterprises to enhance organizational efficiency, boost productive utilization of national resources, boost economic prosperity, and improve quality of public services. Moreover, the enterprises have also realized the essential role that human resources (HR) department can play in attaining productivity improvement. In every organization, either public or private, HR ensures the firms have qualified and competent personnel, workers are motivated to improve performance, and the workplace is safe and health for improved productivity.
As a result, many public institutions are employing various sorts of HR strategies to promote productivity enhancement. According to Berman, Bowman, and West (2006), some of these approaches include reengineering, use of information technology, empowerment, and reorganization. In addition, workforce training, performance-based contracts, and others HR strategies can be used to improve productivity in public institutions. The current research explores how these sorts of HR strategies can be used to promote productivity improvement in the Australian public sector.
Employee Training and DevelopmentPublic workers represent a fundamental element in the efforts towards productivity improvement. They can be rightfully said to be drivers of improving productivity in the organizations because they carry out organizational tasks and responsibilities. Therefore, enhancing productivity requires active involvement or participation of all workers, with employee recognition and training presenting the most effective way to achieve this. As Koteen (1997) argues, this approach entails efforts by HR to prepare the workforce for enhancement in productivity, as well as its efforts to create an organizational learning culture.
Training programs present effective tools for enhancing productivity and increasing operational efficiency of public organizations. While training emphasizes on developing short-term skills and capabilities necessary to enable workers to do their tasks effectively and efficiently, development mainly addresses long-term employee skills and experiences. In the public sector, training initiatives should be more technical, including such issues as work orientation for new recruits, safety, and development of skills, among others. Such issues are pertinent in helping the employees improve productivity because of the high level of systems and bureaucracy that surround public institutions.
For instance, Australian health service comprises of many systems, including hospitals, federal and state regulatory agencies, as well as insurance companies, all of which work together according to some predetermined operational procedures. Therefore, in such situations, HR practitioners need to develop training programs to acquaint new hires with necessary skills needed to work with ease. Otherwise, they will spend much time trying to understand the working procedures on their own, which will inevitably limit their work productivity.
In addition, (Waldt 2004, p. 74) argues that productivity can also be improved by training workers to be more flexible – “training employees to perform a number of different jobs. ” This enables the organizations to operate with a smaller workforce, because employees can be moved easily between departments according to the level of work.