Lofty cost of worker turnover

Mansoor Ahmad
Wednesday, Oct 13, 2021

LAHORE: Globally the strength of a business enterprise is judged by the annual turnover of staff. Similarly, the turnover of key players in a government depicts the stability of that regime.

Stability in essence is essential both in businesses and politics for sustained growth. Stressed companies treat their workforce as robots that come to the factory and start the routine job without even knowing the importance of the task they perform.

No company has ever sustained for long if it has dissatisfied workers. In successful enterprises workers are partners in the enterprise. In the same way, bureaucrats are

the workers that facilitate a political government in running the day-to-day affairs of the state.

They perform best if the ruling elite provide them with their major objectives and give them a free hand to execute the plan. It is of course understood that they would operate within the law of the land of the country, just as a worker of a successful enterprise, who is not asked by the sponsors to break the law or indulge in unethical practices.

There are very few enterprises in the country, where workers remain attached for decades, and the only staff the company needs to hire is for expansion. Salary perks and facilitations for the employees are important

However, if there is no job satisfaction, even the highest paid talent will leave the job. Similarly, the most competent bureaucrat would not be able to deliver if they operate in stress.

They would prefer to be sidelined as an officer on special duty and forgo the perks and privileges of a post than hang around.

Entrepreneurs are extremely careful in the selection of executives. These executives lead their workers to do what is best for the company.

The sponsors simply provide them with their vision and targets. The executives ensure that the objectives are largely achieved.

The sponsors keep the prevailing economic situation in mind in case there is some lapse in achieving the targets.

However, in companies where carefully selected competent executives run the show, the performance is much better even in recession and top class when the economy is in a comfort zone.

The same goes with the government where the human resource at top level is selected after careful deliberation and the person is assigned a task according to the vision of the government. The bureaucrat (if a competent one is selected) would chalk out a plan for best delivery.

In commercial enterprises, the executives are expected to show progress on a quarterly basis and explain the reasons for missing or over shooting the targets.

The bureaucrats in Pakistan do not have this luxury. Prudent governments give them enough time to implement their programmes, while impatient rulers want immediate delivery.

Another drawback is that the ruling elite do not give bureaucrats complete independence. They continue to interfere in their affairs.

In business enterprises there is no such tinkering. The executives assign different tasks to the workers and ensure that they deliver.

The top bureaucrats do not enjoy this independence. There is a constant pressure to replace lower cadre bureaucrats to the liking of the ruling elite and its supporters.

The failure to oblige, results in transfer of the top executive. He is replaced by a bureaucrat who does not resist this tinkering. In such cases the targets remain elusive.

Many wonder why the economy remains under stress. The answer is simple: we have changed four finance ministers in the past three years.

Each minister comes up with a new strategy. During this period, we changed more finance secretaries than the finance ministers.

The Federal Board of Revenue saw frequent changes of its chief executive. The law and order situation has worsened because Punjab, the largest province, saw five Inspector General of Police changing hands in three years.

The prices have gone out of control because the changes even at the level of assistant commissioners are more frequent than at higher levels of bureaucracy. These officers are supposed to control prices at district and lower levels.

When one officer is transferred, the one that replaces them has to chalk out a different plan than the predecessor. By the time that plan is ready for implementation the officer is replaced by another.

We are operating the government these days like a failed business concern. The high turnover of workers in business concerns is because of the dissatisfaction of the workers.

In case of the government, the high turnover is because of the dissatisfaction of the ruling elite. The final outcome is the same.