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					Radical Civil Service Reform
in the United States:
A Ten-Year Retrospective
                     Stephen E. Condrey
                  University of Georgia, USA

                R. Paul Battaglio, Jr.
       University of Nevada - Las Vegas, USA


 Presented at ―Public Administration in the XXI Century: Traditions and Innovations‖
        Lomonosov Moscow State University School of Public Administration
                         Moscow, Russia – May 24-26, 2006
Radical Civil Service Reform

   Based on the principles of New Public Management

   Reduced role for employee job protections and increased
    managerial discretion

   As of 2006:
      28 states (56%) increased at-will employment practices
      89% of these states report increased decentralization in
       the HR function (Hays & Sowa, 2006)




                                                                  2
Overview

   10 years since Georgia implemented radical civil service
    reform

   Subject of much study and speculation

   Seen as a model for other governments. Should it be?

   As of 2006, approximately 76% of employees of the State
    of Georgia are employed at-will.




                                                               3
Human Resources Management in
Transition

…the management of human resources is undergoing
profound transition in concept and practice. A key
component of this transformation is the dissolution of the
traditional social contract at work: job security with good pay
and benefits in exchange for employee commitment and
loyalty. In the process, the longstanding American
employment at-will doctrine, which was eroded in the latter
part of the 20th century, has been revitalized and has spread to
the public sector through civil service reform

                                       Bowman & West 2006, p. 139


                                                                    4
Survey of Georgia HR Professionals:
Methodology
   Methodology
     Unit of Analysis
        • 274 Respondents - HR Professionals in Georgia
          State Government
        • Response Rate of 51.3%
     Dependent Variables
        • Scale Development and Reliability Analysis

   Standard OLS Multiple Regression



                                                          5
   Scale 1: Discourages Good
   Government
At-Will Employment:
 Discourages employees from taking risks that could lead to
    program or policy innovation.
 Discourages employees from reporting agency wrongdoing
     (or ―blowing the whistle‖).
 Discourages employees from freely voicing objections to
     management directives.
 Makes state government jobs less attractive to current and
     future employees than would be the case if there was more
     job security.
                   Cronbach’s Alpha = .784

                                                                 6
Scale 2: Supports New Public
Management Principles
At-Will Employment:
   Leads to greater customer satisfaction for citizens.
    Leads to greater government accountability and responsiveness to the
     public.
    Has streamlined the hiring/firing process.

    Helps ensure employees are responsive to the goals and priorities of
     agency administrators.
    Provides needed motivation for employee performance.

    Makes the HR function more efficient.

    Provides essential managerial flexibility over the HR function.

    Represents an essential piece of modern government management.

                         Cronbach’s Alpha = .893                            7
    Scale 3: Encourages Dubious
    Dismissals
At-Will Employment:
 Could—by not requiring a rationale or justification for terminating
    employees—make public employees less sensitive to issues of procedural
    fairness.
    Could—by not requiring a rationale or justification for terminating
     employees—negatively affect managers‘ decision-making in other non-
     HR decisions
    Is at odds with the public sector‘s traditional emphasis on merit in human
     resources decisions.
    Gives an upper-hand to employers relative to employees in the
     employment relationship.
    Is sometimes used to fire competent employees so other people with
     friends or connections to government can be hired.

                          Cronbach’s Alpha = .801
                                                                                  8
                     Impact of Agency-Specific Experiences on Scales
                       for Attitudes Toward At-Will Employment
                                  1. Discourages Good           2. Supports NPM          3. Encourages Dubious
                                        Government                   Principles               Dismissals

Independent Variables

Age and Years in Service                             .211**                   -.0545*                     .161*
                                                      (1.99)                   (-0.55)                   (1.91)
Prior Private Sector                                    .146                     .038                   .190**
      Experience                                      (1.23)                   (0.34)                    (2.01)
% of Employees Serving                                  .001                  .006**                       .003
     At-Will                                          (0.05)                   (2.64)                    (1.35)
Gender                                              -.383**                      .185                      .007
                                                     (-2.71)                   (1.40)                    (0.06)
Education                                           -.091**                      .014                     -.004
                                                     (-1.97)                   (0.32)                   (-0.10)
African American                                       -.096                   -.435*                      .139
                                                     (-0.34)                  (-1.63)                    (0.61)
Misuse of the HR System                               .133*                     -.002                   .278**
                                                       (1.82                  (-0.04)                    (4.79)
Trust Management                                    -.444**                   .344**                    -.457**
                                                     (-5.31)                   (4.41)                    (-6.89)
R-Squared                                              .306                       .184                    .503

Column entries include regression coefficients and t-scores in parentheses.
N = 232 (cases with missing data were dropped from the regression)
**Significant at the .05 level / *Significant at the .10 level                                                     9
Reasons Why At-Will Employment
Persists and Expands
   Broad public support

   Relationship of public employment to elective politics

   Complex bureaucracies and a developed economy

   Changing nature of the workforce

   Ongoing diminution in the differences between public and
    private sector employment

                                                               10
      Broad Public Support
                  Percent Agreeing With Statements About
                   At-Will Employment for State Workers
35%
                                                           32%
                 31%
30%
                                     28%
                                                                                  27%
           26%                 26%
25%                                                                         25%


                                                    21%
20%                                                                                           Completely Agree


15%                                                                                           Somewhat Agree


10%

5%

0%
        Leads to Greater    Leads to Greater    Provides Essential       Makes State Jobs
        Accountability &       Customer        Managerial Flexibility    Less Attractive to
        Responsiveness        Satisfaction                              Potential Employees

 Source: Peach State Poll, 2006 – 805 respondents
                                                                                                                 11
Relationship of Public Employment
to Elective Politics
   Jobs no longer traded for votes as they once were

   Little support for widespread utilization of patronage
    politics in states adopting at-will employment systems

   Interest group politics, lucrative government contracts, and
    privatization of government functions now influential –
    ‗hollow‘ state




                                                                   12
Complex Bureaucracies and a
Developed Economy
   Sheer complexity of the bureaucracies in the United States
    negates coordinated efforts to politicize them

   At-will employment is not strictly a political or partisan
    issue

   Dependent upon the maturity and health of the economy in
    which it is implemented; far less appropriate in
    undeveloped economies.




                                                                 13
Changing Nature of the Public
Workforce
   Older workers and younger workers have different views of
    at-will employment

        ―I think that at will employment is a non-issue for new
         and younger employees, but a concern for long term
         employees.‖

   Younger workers do not expect to work at one
    organization for their entire career

        ―Only classified employees express concern regarding at-
         will employment. New employees appear unconcerned.‖


                                                                    14
Ongoing Diminution in the Differences
Between Public and Private Sector
Employment
   Public employment is no longer ―special‖

   Increasing movement of workers between the public and
    private sectors

   Diminished importance of civil service protections




                                                            15
Conclusion

It is incumbent upon the field to recognize that at-will
employment is more than a fleeting phenomenon, to seek
explanations for its persistence and expansion, and to guide its
implementation. The alternative is a diminished role for the
field of public human resource management. Further research
and dialogue is needed to continue to build upon this data and
to shed further light into this yet not fully explored area of
public human resource management.




                                                                   16

				
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