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Public Administration and Human Resource Management


A large proportion of the total workforce constitutes the public sector employees. The government uses people to carry out its functions and also to provide services to the people. It is through the people, that the government can fulfill its responsibilities to the public (Berman et al, 2009). Therefore, people are the resources used by the government to deliver services to the public. Management of human resources is a priority in the public sector because these human resources are the agents of the government. The human resource manager also helps in motivating and managing the employees in the public sector. The human resource manager maximizes the use of employees in the public sector and solves the conflicts that may arise between the employees.

Challenges in the public sector

Human resource management in the public sector is prone to so many challenges which result from changing trends in the economical, political and social environment. These challenges occur when making decisions to hire, to promote some employees, and also making transfer decisions (Berman et al, 2009).

Some of the major socio-economic challenges facing human resource management in the public sector include demographic shifts, trends in labor migration like brain drain, and also the HIV/AIDS impact is a major challenge (Sims, 2007). These challenges result in unexpected problems and unpredicted spillover effects for the public sector. The economic and social processes that underlie these challenges are in turn affected by the policy responses made (Berman et al, 2009). Such processes, therefore, call for the government to put in place strategies like husbanding, upgrading

and recruitment of scarce human skills and knowledge. The main problem of socio-economic challenges is that they affect both developed and developing countries though their effects are heavily felt in the poor countries which are working hard to develop human resource and reduce poverty (Sims, 2007).

Human resource management in public sector faces the challenges of linking performance and rewards. An employee’s output in a public may be very little compared to what he is paid. On the other hand, an employee may be performing a lot of duties but get a pay which is far much below his output. The compensation systems in the public sector favor those who have stayed long in an institution. Thus, the most productive and educated people in an institution may not be the best paid people (Berman et al, 2009).

Public sector is prone to interference by politics in the management of human resource (Sims, 2007). This results to corruption where people bribe in order to be employed. Due to this less educated people with no expertise are employed which results to poor delivery of services to the public. In addition, most employees in public sector do not work at will and therefore are continuously subjected to discipline. Disciplining process is continually done in order to improve the employees performance and it ranges from verbal warning to suspension and finally to termination. As a result, management of employees in public sector takes longer time compared to private sector because it involves human resource administrators, union and to some extent attorneys. These processes are tiresome but they help in ensuring that the public sector does not become over politicized (Berman et al, 2009).

Retention of talented employees is a challenge faced by human resource management in public sector. Employees look for high wages from the private firms. The private sector is poaching the talented workers from the public sector by offering them higher wages. This has resulted to the public sector being left with inexperienced employees which thus results to poor provision of public services (Berman et al, 2009). Higher pay acts as a motivation factor and therefore, since the public sector does not offer good rewards as recognition of their efforts, the employees are not motivated to work hard. Therefore, human resource management faces the challenge of maintaining the experienced employees and also optimizing the performance of the employees.

Similarities in public and private sector

Functions of human resource management in both private and public sector are similar. Human resource manager has the responsibility recruiting, performing job analysis, classification, performance appraising and disciplining. He is also responsible for terminating and giving retirement both in private and public sectors (Berman et al, 2009).

Human resource management in both private and public sector is responsible for setting departmental goals which will help to achieve the overall organization goals. Human resource managers motivate the employees to work hard in order to achieve the departmental goals as well as the overall company goals (Berman et al, 2009).

Differences between public and private sector

Although the functions of human resource management in public and private sector which include recruiting, training and development, reward and performance management are similar, they vary in practice and philosophy (Sims, 2007). Public human resource management constitutes law, organization structures and procedures. The human resource management in public sector also has to achieve the goal of equity and stability for their employees and therefore this influences human resource management activities like recruitment, selection and performance management. Therefore, human resource management in public sector has to work hard to ensure that he carries out his functions in a fair manner. In private sector, the functions of the human resource manager are not influenced government laws and procedure and thus he can recruit or promote employees depending on their performance (Berman et al, 2009).

The structure of human resource management in public sector organization differs with the structure of private sectors. This is as a result of employee characteristics, technology available and other variables. Sometimes, the public companies may decide to carry out some of the human resource management activities through private companies. These activities include training, benefit administration and recruitment and selection. Conversely, human resource management in private companies carries out all the activities (Sims, 2007).

Public and private sector organization differ in their operations in relation to their values and objectives. A private sector organization is either owned by shareholders, certain individual or partners and the main aim of this private organization is to gain competitive advantage in the market, achieve efficiency, profitability and also profit growth. These private organizations are ready to take risks and their relationship with customers are transactional and thus customers choose the best organization that provides the best products and services (Sims, 2007). On the other hand, the main aim of public sector organizations is to produce services and goods (Berman et al, 2009). They also aim at understanding and promoting the public goods and at the same time trying to satisfy the public want. The public goods provided by the public sectors are done so through programmes and policies which support the different needs of the public. The human resource management in private sector has to employ those employees who have the expertise to help the organization be competitive and make profits. In public sector, human resource management only requires to look for an employee who will be in a position to deliver public goods to the public efficiently without caring about the profitability and competitiveness of the organization (Mathis & Harold, 1998).

Public and private sector may have collective bargaining but some factors differ. First, in private sector there are no national laws like National Labor Relation Act which govern the public sector (Sims, 2007). Collective bargaining in public sector works within different jurisdiction of different states because there is diversity among different states. Secondly, public jurisdictions come up with organizational rules, employee benefits and wages that employees are supposed to be given (Milkovich, Boudreau, & Milkovich, 1994). Since wages and working conditions are set by law, unions are therefore not given the opportunity to negotiate for better wages in public sector. In private sector, the human resource management is responsible for setting the wages and benefits that employees are supposed to get (Prowle, 2000). Finally, stricking in public sector organization is not accepted because the services provided by the government are considered to be for the well being of the citizens and therefore, public policy opposes strikes (Sims, 2007). Most of the state legislatures do not offer permission to the public employees to strike. On the other hand, in the private sector there are no such laws preventing the employees from striking. Thus human resource manager in private sector organization has to ensure that the employees are well motivated, well paid and their needs satisfied in order to prevent them from striking (Berman et al, 2009).

In public sector organizations accountability is mandatory. Public have the permission to scrutinize the decisions made in these organization and therefore this has an impact on how decisions are made and how the resources are managed (Prowle, 2000). Public is also allowed to participate in making the organizations decisions in public sector. The managers are answerable to both the public and their superiors in the organization. On the other hand, in private sector organizations, the public is not allowed to access the internal information of the organization (Mathis & Harold, 1998). The managers make their decisions without involving the public because they are not accountable to them. They are also not accountable of how they manage the human resource in the private sector. Transparency is also ensured in public sector and therefore, there is a law advocating for transparent meetings and open company records in order to promote the trust of the public. On the other hand, in private sector there are no set down laws to ensure transparency (Sims, 2007). The companies create customer trust by providing competitive and quality products and services.

Human resource management is important in public sector especially in helping the organizations to achieve the public service goals. Human resource management leaders work together with the government in ensuring the resources are efficiently used to avoid wastage. In private sector, the human resource management does not work together with the government. Rather, the human resource management works together with other departments in ensuring that the organizations goals are achieved and the resource are properly and optimally utilized without wastage (Berman et al, 2009).

Improving career opportunity for the aged

Employees who are past the age of 50 faces the problem of career obsolesce. Therefore, in order to promote the career opportunities of these employees, human resource managers and the old employees should invest in career development in order to improve the knowledge and skills of the old employee. Training and development when done to these employees will help them to be competitive just like the younger workers (Mathis & Harold, 1998).

In order to improve the opportunity career of the old workers, the human resource manager should help people to do away with stereo types such as aged can do nothing. The old people should be viewed as people with vitality, wisdom and support. Managers should have a belief that these people will continue to develop, grow and be productive, and thus be beneficial to the organization (Sims, 2007).

Human factors approach can be used to accommodate the mental and physical changes which come with age. These human approaches will help in supporting the older employees in work environment restructuring and also in careful job designing. Training will help the old workers to work in job situations which are not familiar. Similarly, continuous maintenance of skills for these old people will help them to be productive (Milkovich, Boudreau, & Milkovich, 1994).

Mandatory retirement age and age restriction should be eliminated in order to improve the opportunity careers of the old people. People should be allowed to work past the retirement age. Flexible policies and legislation should be set in order to allow the retired employees to go back to work (Sims, 2007). The managers should also make sure that the working environment comfortably accommodates the aged people. Tools and information which match the skills of the old people should be made available.

Subsidies should be paid to employers to encourage them to employ older people. Labor cost subsidies should be paid to employers with an aim of reducing the employment disadvantage for the old people. Therefore, companies employing workers who are aged above 50 years should be assisted by the government in paying these employees (Mathis & Harold, 1998).

Placement programmes for older workers should be planned and implemented in order to create career opportunities for the old people (Sims, 2007). Such programmes as elderly employment promotion, elderly job placement and elderly place will help companies to employ those employees aged over 50 years. A law to encourage the private sector to employ these old employees should also be made and implemented. Similarly, statutory measure should be put in place in order to prevent age discrimination in work place. This will help employers to absorb even the old employees. The employers will also post job advertisements with requirements that accommodate even the old people.


Human resource management is responsible of managing the great number of people employed in the public sector (Mathis & Harold, 1998). This involves recruiting, selecting, training, disciplining and paying them. Therefore, these activities require an experienced and competent human resource manager. A human resource manager should also manage the employees in public sector to achieve the set goals. This article has explained the challenges facing the human resource management in public sector due changing trends of the environment. It has also given a comparison of the private and public sectors, citing the similarities and differences. The paper has finally given the strategies that should be adopted in order to improve the career opportunities of the old employees.

Reference list

Berman et al. (2009).Human Resource Management in Public Service: Paradoxes, Processes, and Problems. Chicago. SAGE.

Mathis, L., & Harold, J. (1998). Personnel/human resource management. New York. West Publishing Company.

Milkovich, G., Boudreau, J., & Milkovich, C. (1994). Human resource management. Chicago. Irwin.

Prowle, M. (2000). The changing public sector: a practical management guide. Boston. Gower Publishing.

Sims, R. (2007). Human resource management: contemporary issues, challenges, and opportunities. Chicago. IAP.

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