What Is Involved in Public Personnel Management?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 25 March 2020
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Public personnel management involves staying current with laws regulating the public sector and awareness of political implications of the job. Human resource managers for public organizations also handle staffing needs, recruitment, employee retention, and training. They deal with controversial employment policies, such as drug testing and sexual harassment. Public personnel management professionals take responsibility for budgetary limitations in the public sector. They essentially handle everything from hiring to firing within policies set by the governing body and applicable law.

Local and national laws, and regulations for public employees, typically vary by region, requiring public personnel management to stay abreast of any changes. Human resource leaders also follow guidelines set by elected or appointed boards, balancing the organizational philosophy with the daily operation of the human resource department. They need awareness of political implications of their actions.

Public personnel management employees often work for elected bodies, meaning their handling of employees might be open to public scrutiny. Most government employees receive public funds for their work, and their salaries and benefit packages could be available for review. Human resource managers typically consider the ethical use of taxpayer funds when performing their jobs.


They might deal with labor relations and the collective bargaining process. Another area involved in public personnel management might include a program for hiring underrepresented classes of people to meet employment quotas. Even in areas where quotas do not exist, managers might attempt to create diversity in the workplace to avoid criticism.

A public organization’s personnel budget generally makes up the biggest expenditure for the agency. Managers usually take responsibility for meeting budgetary limits by increasing productivity of staff. They might use technology to save tax dollars in the human resource department. If the agency suffers from fewer tax contributions, managers might be forced to enact a reduction in force via layoffs.

Public sector human resource managers determine staffing needs and prepare recruitment materials to attract qualified candidates for job openings. They might be personally involved in the interview process for high-profile positions within the agency. After selecting ideal candidates, the personnel manager typically strives to retain employees considered valuable public servants.

Training and benefit programs usually come under the responsibility of human resource department heads. They also periodically conduct performance appraisals and mete out discipline. Managers commonly consider the legal and political issues that might arise when a termination is necessary. A precise series of steps, often called progressive discipline, might be required by law. The process might become more complex where employee labor associations exist.


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