, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This article studies the HR practices which are in practice in the government sector of the UK. Moreover, it compares the practices in use in the government sectors of the UK and Pakistan. Being a nation we love to compare ourselves with others. It is very common practice to compare our system with the systems of other nations. If something is better than ours we immediately get impressed by it and in many cases try to imitate it. An aphorism comes to my mind at this occasion ‘He that apes others will never be himself’. These words of wisdom make it clear that the one who copies others forgets his own identity. Thus, we must not try to copy others. Comparison is good but not imitating. Purpose of comparison must be to identify weaknesses and then working on those weaknesses by keeping our unique circumstances in mind.

HRM in the Public Sector of the UK

Human Resource Planning (HRP):

Planning is a very crucial process in the field of HR. Many factors should be kept in mind during the course of planning. However, if planning is done at the central level then it is difficult to keep it free from political considerations of the ruling elites. In the UK, HRP was subject of the centre till 1982, while after that it was decentralized and powers of HRP were handed over to the departments.


Total public sector employees of UK are 5.899 million, out of which 464000 are civil servants. Ten different departments and services are provided on the web site of UK Civil Services where professionals can apply for jobs of four pay bands. Furthermore, there are seven grades for middle and junior civil servant. Civil servants are chosen through an examination which has its basis on the Northcote-Trevelyan reforms 1854. The basic purpose of the introduction of this competitive examination was to eliminate the recruitment through patronage. The selection procedure in the UK Civil Services is still centralized; whereas, in local governments and other public services selection and the recruitment process is decentralized.

Performance Management and Appraisal:

Taylorism connected employee performance with economic rewards; according to Taylor monetary benefits are key to motivation. Albeit performance is majorly linked with the material benefits, another important factor which counts in this regard is the compatibility between skills of a person and the nature of the job. If the person working on a specific post has those skills which are essential for performing it, then his performance will escalate. In the UK’s Civil Services, performance management involves: ‘performance planning’ and ‘performance review’.  ‘Annex B’ is a form which is used for performance appraisal. This form of the UK Civil Services is an open ended performance appraisal form which is not merely based on the evaluation of senior officials.

Pay Structure:

Pay structure in British Civil Services is performance based. It is now the matter of departments to decide the payment conditions. This was decentralized in 1996.

Table below; shows the fundamental differences in terms of human resource management between the government sectors of the UK and Pakistan.

UK Pakistan
In most of the departments of the public sector HRM is decentralized.


In the public sector human resource management it is still centralized.
Recruitment is merit based. For civil services – inductions, centralized examinations are conducted. Other departments also do selection through various tests. Selection is also done on the basis of interviews and merit.


Recruitment for central and provincial civil – services is done through competitive examination. Although tests are also conducted for the evaluation of suitable candidates for some other departments, manipulations in the results of tests are quite possible in order to recruit people of choice. Although it is claimed that merit will be observed in the case of public sector jobs where only interviews are conducted, most of the times such recruitments are made on the choices of politicians and establishment. Ethnic background is also a decisive factor for getting a job. The ‘Quota system’ is still in practice.


Pay system is decentralized and performance based.


Pay system is defined by centre and is not performance based.


Promotions are performance based. Open ended promotion evaluation system is followed, which ensures the participation of the one whose performance evaluation is being done.


Promotions are not performance based. Seniority rule is practiced for promotions. Favoritism and connection play important role in promotions. The Annual Confidential Report (ACR) which is a close-ended performance evaluation report is still in practice. It leaves the cases of promotions totally in the hands of senior officers.


Decision making is centralized in some matters, but in most of the cases departments do decision making according to the circumstances. Decision making is highly centralized.


System of management in the public sector is centralized and highly bureaucratic. ‘Yes sir’ term is commonly used to explain the bureaucratic structure of the public services.


There is least top down and bottom up communication in the offices of government sector.


Issues are extensive in the field of HR in the government sector of Pakistan. Employees are not motivated due the ineffective policies of performance management. Overstaffing is rampant in most of the departments. Talent complains about use of connection during the course of recruitment. Due to communication gap subordinates feel aloof from the policy matters and do not really know what their seniors expect from them. Corruption is playing the role of termite. By keeping all of the facts discussed in mind one can easily conclude that the government sector is better in terms of performance.

The purpose of this comparison is not to show that the UK’s human resources management practices are superior to the one of Pakistan. It is meant to highlight the differences which exist between both countries in terms of human resources management. Furthermore, it has the purpose of pointing out that the practices used in UK’s government sector are bringing more constructive results by enhancing the performance of human resources. Aim is not to imitate the HRM practices of the UK; as, those cannot be applied in their true spirit in the Pakistani context. Aim is to trace the existence of such a HR practices in the case of Pakistan which are not useful for improving the performance of HR.