The President has a team of advisors on issues such as politics, economy, security etc, except for the notable absence Human Resource (HR) . Yet on a daily basis, the President encounters HR issues including labour relations, which require professional and not administrative inputs.
The President’s HR Advisor could, among other duties, offer professional advice in the following people management areas; Workplace legislation and policies, hiring competent people, evaluating employee performance, review of salaries and benefits, and sacking senior public servants.
Firstly, on the matter of workplace legislation and policies, the concept and practice of the best workplace to work in should be approached from a national perspective to include the public sector. Besides labor laws, there is a need for legislation and policies that promote workplaces that support employees’ productivity. The HR Advisor should spearhead the ideation of national interventions for friendly work environments that impact on the Gross National Product.
Although most Presidential senior appointments take into account factors such as gender, inclusivity etc., short-listed candidates should meet the minimum thresholds for the vacant positions. Competency of staff is key for quality service delivery. Broad guidelines on the total selection process are required but sometimes overlooked by long-serving administrators with no background or experience in HR management. NSIS does an excellent job in vetting recommended candidates for public posts but it misses out on competence reference checks. The potential candidate may be cleared in accordance with the tenets of Chapter 6 of the Constitution of Kenya and fail flat on core work-related competencies. The President’s seasoned HR Advisor will be handy to offer advice on validation of competence reference checks before the final selection decision.
E Public sector organizations have elaborate performance management systems that ride on the bedrock of negotiated performance contracts. Parameters for assessing the overall organisation performance are sometimes so poorly defined that doubt is cast on the outcomes of evaluation results. From a national perspective, the HR Adviser will provide the President with the overall moderated performance of public commercial institutions and improvement areas.
On matters concerning salary and benefits, whereas the mandate of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) is clearly stipulated, its decisions on reward matters are devoid of comparative sectoral and international salary analyses. The minimum wage guidelines tabled by the Ministry of Labour always falls way below the realities in the competitive labour market. The voice of reason in the glaring salary disparities should be heard from an all-around HR Adviser with invaluable expertise and experience on reward management matters.
When the Head of State burns midnight oil negotiating with bullish trade union leaders, some people in his team have let him down. This would not be the case if one informed team member was focused on giving the President the big picture on labour relations issues.
The Security Adviser briefs the President on national security matters from those on the ground while playing the role of the devil’s advocate. In the same spirit, the HR Adviser shall become the President’s third eye for identifying threats to national industrial peace and harmony.
Sacking Senior staff in public service is one of the toughest decisions that the President makes in order to bring on board those that meet his expectations. Court cases of unfairly terminated senior public servants get attention in the local media especially when they are perceived and misinterpreted as witch hunting. Whoever instigates an employee’s dismissal usually turns a blind eye to post-termination legal tussles. The HR Adviser would be readily available to point out dire legal implications in the employee termination process.
The level of national HR capacity will influence the movement towards the achievement of middle-income status by 2030.