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It is widely recognized that the people working for an organization are its most important asset. Therefore,HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT (HRM) is one of the key management elements. The terms ‘human resource management’ and ‘human resources’ (HR) have now replaced the term ‘personnel management’ as a description of the processes involved in managing people in organizations. The Human Resources Management (HRM) function includes a variety of activities, and key among them is deciding what the staffing needs are, recruiting and training the best employees, dealing with performance issues, and ensuring personnel and management practices conform to various regulations. Activities also include managing employee benefits and compensation, employee records and personnel policies.There is a subtle but not unimportant distinction between HRM and HRD (Human Resource Development).

HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT is the framework for helping employees develops their personal and organizational skills, knowledge, and abilities. Human Resource Development includes employee training, employee career development, performance management and development, coaching, succession planning, key employee identification, tuition assistance, and organization development.The HRM and HRD functions have undergone much change over the past 20-30 years. Many years ago, organizations looked to the ‘Personnel Department’ mostly to manage the paperwork around hiring and paying people. More recently, organizations consider the ‘HR Department’ as playing a major role in staffing, training and helping to manage people so that people and the organization are performing at maximum capability in a highly fulfilling manner.

HR in statistical agencies

Nothing is as important to a statistical agency as its staff, for the difference between a well-organized, strongly motivated and technically competent staff and one that displays these attributes only to a very modest extent is the difference between a good and credible office and one that is second-rate. Expenditure on staff accounts for a dominant fraction of the budget in a statistical agency. On average, salaries account for approximately 70 per cent or more of the total budget. In addition, heads of agency tended to devote more time to staff problems than to any other issue.Improvements have been made in ‘people management’ in bureaucracies in general and in statistical agencies in particular.

Management of human resources is acknowledged in discussions in international venues as having been taken for granted in earlier times, and is now perceived as critical. Also addressed in such discussions are the various stages of training and the need to retain and develop staff, as well as the considerations that determine how specialized the agency staff should be.As a percentage of the total staff the share of professional staff has increased substantially even in cases where actual numbers have dropped and relative resource endowments have not kept up with changes elsewhere in the civil service. In some statistical agencies, professionals account for one in two staff members. Statistical surveys have become more sophisticated, at least in terms of planning, and general expectations regarding the quality of the estimates produced by statistical agencies have risen.

The computer and communications revolutions and the resultant gains in labor productivity have surely contributed to these trends. One of the many results of these changes is the impact on the human resource policies adopted by, or imposed on, statistical agencies.Because of the range of subjects covered by a modern statistical agency, the staff tends to possess a variety of skills and academic backgrounds. Even agencies that conduct only moderately complex and specific statistical undertakings find themselves in need of a wide range of skills. Statistical operations require a mix of talent, including economists, sociologists, demographers, econometricians, geographers, anthropologists, criminologists, engineers and computer experts.Some of these skills are not required for day-to-day statistical operations, but they prove essential when new operations are being planned and launched.

Naturally there is a certain amount of learning and technology transfer that makes the staff of statistical agencies more versatile, but in the end medium-sized and large offices will find that there are limits to what can be borrowed from other countries and other institutions and will therefore choose to enhance their own capabilities.It is important to build a multi-talented staff with a broad range of academic skills and work experience. As in many other situations, the question arises whether certain capabilities are used so often that they should be available to the agency on a permanent basis or whether, given the expected usage, it is sufficient if they are acquired if and when their use demands it. This holds true for human resources as much as for equipment.

For example, when adapting an international classification to suit national purposes, growth in demand for very specialized knowledge relating to such areas as chemicals, electronics, pharmaceuticals, computing, the audio-visual industry and financial services will be inevitable.Likewise, international trade statistics require specialized commodity knowledge as well as knowledge of national customs administration processes. These are examples of requirements that tend to be in demand when new methods are introduced or new classifications are instituted. In such cases, an agency may choose to employ the services of a specialist, through a consulting contract or some other non-permanent association.

Professional staff can often be divided into two categories:

  1. General personnel capable of performing at lower and intermediate levels of sophistication in the areas of computing, statistical design and analysis, national, public sector or enterprise accounting, and economic, social or demographic analysis
  2. Specialized personnel capable of performing at a substantially higher level in an area such as non-response analysis or in a field such as analysis of geographical information, criminology, or health statistics

In the event of some major undertaking, this staff structure can be augmented by the occasional purchase of services provided by consultants, national or international, who are highly specialized or concerned with matters of policy and public perception.Once a determination has been made as to the size and the composition of the permanent staff and those obtained through short-term contracts, the chief statistician will evaluate supply and demand and attempt to correct any imbalances through recruitment policies.

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Useful general reference sites for Human Resource management are:

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See also Activities 2.2.2. - Internal and management issues – Resources - Human resources.