Human resource management is a combination of processes, programmes, and systems in an organisation.
It ensures effective utilisation of the workforce to get a competitive edge through the strategic deployment of a highly committed and capable workforce.
Coming into effect of devolution in 2010 under the new Constitution, there were expectations that counties would establish efficient HR management frameworks.
Transition Authority put a lot of effort in the implementation of the fourth schedule of the Constitution and distribution of functions between national and county governments.
However, the authority failed in guiding the establishment of efficient county service boards to oversee HR functions. The seconding national government officials to oversee a smooth transition overlooked staffing issues.
As a result, there is no uniform workforce management norms and standards across counties.
After inheriting most of its workforce from the national government and the defunct local authorities, the devolved units are currently the leading employer. County service boards are now fully equipped to handle HR management.
However, HR tools at the county level unlike in the national government are unreliable and skewed. Ordinarily, graduates recruited make their entry in job Group H followed by a three-year rise for each preceding job scale, up to job group N beyond which further upward progression is competitive.
Devolution changed established practice in HR management protocols and procedures under the national government systems.
The newly recruited county workforce the majority of whom were yet to acquire university degrees got placement in job group Q. This was against an earlier advisory opinion from the Public Service Commission on skewed recruitment practices and rewards rampantly witnessed at counties.
The technical workforce is poorly facilitated and remunerated without clear guidelines on career development, progression and succession besides unexplained pay delays.
Politically connected employees and cronies are among those lacking requisite qualifications for assigned roles besides getting good pay compared to their technical counterparts.
Absence of adequate guidelines and standards on handling workers plight at county level coupled with inconsistencies in the dispute resolution attract endless industrial actions.
Thousands of others who are not members of any trade union have quietly withdrawn from service delivery.
Considering that modern trade unionists have become more aggressive, articulate and focused on workers welfare, at times they put undue pressure on authorities with demands for a better package. On the other hand, counties lack negotiation skills when faced with industrial disputes, triggering lengthy industrial standoff.
Acceptable human resource practices, frameworks, and policies will ensure decency in handling workers concerns. Then workers will feel appreciated, rekindle a sense of belonging, remunerated based on qualifications, and workforce motivation tools reliable and valid.
Such buy-in is attainable if counties conduct staff audit every two years to ascertain the numbers, capacity needs besides effecting consistent and uniform workplace practices and protocols.
Kiragu Kariuki, public policy and administration expert