Infamous Contractual !

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Due to the changing circumstances, organizations around the world are experiencing an increased level of economic strain and the academic organizations are no exception. These organizations also employ diverse strategies that would assist in their growth practices with the minimum financial output. One of these strategies is fixed-term employment, which refers to the appointment of staff who offers services for a pre-determined period of time, depending on the arrangement made between the individual and the employer.

Similarly, the Higher Education Department have opted to make use of an alternative method of staffing, infamously known and called as CONTRACTUAL. As the cost of employing staff members on a permanent basis leads to increased costs, the appointment of these academic arrangement staff members on fixed-term employment contracts incorporates limited benefits, thereby limiting costs to the department. This option has been financially advantageous to this organization, but it has a negative impact on the job satisfaction of the employees, due to lack of job security and long-term career vision among other factors. Although these staff members play an important role in the overall functioning, success and survival of the educational institutions, their needs and levels of job satisfaction has often been ignored.

Since the nineteenth century, motivational researchers in the field of employee satisfaction have explained the importance of fulfilling the needs of employees in establishing a productive and satisfied workforce, e.g., Affect Theory by Locke, the Hierarchy of Needs by Maslow, the Dispositional Theory by Judge, Two-Factor theory by Herzberg, the Job Characteristic Model by Hackman and Oldman, etc. According to research that was conducted by the Harvard Professional Group (1998), job satisfaction can be seen as the sense of achievement and success that is experienced by an employee at the place of employment. It continues by stating that job satisfaction is the main ingredient that leads the employee towards the attainment of set goals such as recognition, better income structure, promotion to a better position, as well as achievement of other objectives that will ultimately lead to a higher level of motivation and fulfillment.

Experts have emphasized the hampering effect that fixed-term employment conditions may have on job satisfaction of staff and have identified underlying uncertainties and frustrations among fixed-term contract staff members and the challenge of keeping those staff members committed to their academic task.It has been found that the employees who have a permanent employment contract tend to experience a much higher level of job satisfaction than those employees with a fixed-term contract and this can have a negative influence on the motivation and productivity of these employees. The lack of formal support from the middle management, the prejudiced perceptions of permanent contract staff members, as well as the negative effect of this kind of appointment on the career paths of these staff members are some of the major reasons for individuals being shy from this type of appointment.

The rising unemployment and lack of alternatives have left no choice for the candidates in our context. The use of fixed-term employees allows flexibility to the educational institutions as the number of lecturers can be increased or decreased according to their need.  But there is also rise to a number of managerial challenges on different levels within these institutions. The tension and paradoxes are evident in the relationship between the organizations human resource approach and fixed-term contract employment strategies. Academic arrangement employees working on fixed-term contract are unhappy about the employment conditions and with lack of support from the management. Subsequently the already existing tension between the state administration and this human resource is aggravated.

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Given the context of a fragmented and distraught socio-political milieu, there are other factors which contribute to the degradation of these employees. Rampant corruption; degraded ethics on political and social level to torture the weaker;and lack of professional ethics have led to the discrimination and degradation of these employees.The state political actors have not been able to show any permanent stand. Being deceitful to safeguard their own interests they have sometimes labeled theseemployees as inefficient, incapable, and even ineligible which seems to be scapegoating for their own incapability and inefficiency.

Among these employees the new entrants fulfill the current eligibility criteria fixed by the respective managing bodies. Being highly qualified their awards, achievements and teaching at these institutions proves their ability and efficiency. Those employees who are labeled as ineligible (given the changes in eligibility criteria) have fulfilled their eligibility at the time of their entrance into this type of employment. Eligibility criteria depend upon the need of the time. Their counterparts in the permanent contract employees are respected for their experience and are supervising the new entrants coming with higher qualifications and are called as seniors. But the employees on the fixed-term contracts have been rewarded as ineligible for their years of experience, work commitment and continuous investment.

When the fact seems to be that, it is the state administrative failure which couldn’t come with any concrete policy to absorb these employees. It is the inefficiency and ineligibility of the human resource management who seem to adopt the Machiavellianism approach, where on the one hand they take the services from these employees on the other hand doesn’t even consider them as employees. Their level of participation and recognition is almost none in other activities within these institutions. When there is need, these employees are threatened for disengagement for not taking the demanded tasks and when it is otherwise they are pushed out of the other related service activities, e.g., evaluation, supervision, institution up gradation and development activities, training and orientation courses, etc. Being labeled as inefficient and ineligible, the service of conveying knowledge is made possible through the fixed-term academic staff members.

Given the present social context, where dignity is awarded on the basis of money and power, it adds more to the discrimination and degradation of these staff members especially the female staff, where no considerations are given to the gender issues when it comes to fixed-term contract female employee. The level of job satisfaction experienced by the academic staff members is crucial to the output of qualified and equipped students. It is very important that the authorities and the management of the educational institutions implement policies and procedures to ensure that the levels of job satisfaction experienced by the staff members are high.

There is lack of knowledge and poor management practices regarding this staff category. Motivation and job satisfaction begin with leadership that builds or affirms the people and their value to the institution. So the needs of these staff members must be taken into consideration.

Financial and non-financial motivators are determinants. Feeling of working on something worthwhile and working for a good and reliable organization, where sensitivity towards a work-life balance prevails contributes to motivation and job satisfaction. The system that doesn’t take employee needs and quality of life into account, are mainly beaurocratic and task-oriented and don’t take personal and interpersonal relationships in a balanced life into account.

The Higher Education Department functions within a set organizational structure having different but interrelated management levels. There must be a specific understanding and delegation of authority and subsequent responsibility within an organization. The concept of authority goes hand in hand with responsibility, and the person higher in the hierarchy will have more responsibility and will be answerable ultimately. The management structure must be made aware of new trends and challenges, which is of utmost importance. If the basic assumptions, goals and objectives of the organization stay the same, no progress will be made and there will be stagnation, and our higher educational institutions are the best example of this stagnation.

Here the management applies the Theory-X (hard approach; “we versus they” approach)of human work motivation on fixed-term contract employees and Theory-Y (soft approach; Democratic approach) on permanent-contract employees. Whereas the world is constantly developing, they have moved beyond the Theory-Z (optimal managerial style – cultivating moral and ethical excellence), indicating our backwardness, ignorance, and lack of professional ethics.

When it comes to management even the Scientific Management or Taylorism was considered obsolete by 1930’s and a new classical approach known as Human Relations Approach was emphasized. The management should have good human skills. The organization must fulfill their staff’s higher order psychological needs. But in this part of the world,we are not able to fulfill even the basic level needs of these staff members.

Employees can be all fired up about their work or can be made working hard. However, if the results of their work do not contribute to the organization and ultimately to the community, then the organization is not any better than if the employees were sitting on their hands and maybe even worse.  And this applies to all whether permanent contract employees or the fixed-term contract employees. An organization is only as strong as the individuals associated with it. The higher educational institutions were totally dependent on fixed-term contract staff members till recent recruitment of permanentstaff members. These posts in majority were also filled by the individuals who had been working as fixed-term contract employees. If these candidates are labeled as inefficient and ineligible, it will indicate that the administration and the management are corrupted and are cheating the public. When the fact is that, this staffing trend is increasing given the demand and the lack of resources on part of the educational institutions. Further it can be asserted that the rapid increase of fixed-term lecturers at higher education institutions can be attributed to the relative absence of employment regulation, declining resources with rapid expansion of student enrollments. These factors combine to encourage numerical flexibility with rapid recruitment and the use of cheap and disposable employees given the unemployment and lack of alternative choices to the candidates.

The Human Resource Management division of an organization is directly involved in the implementation of the strategies that are decided by the higher levels. This division must be functional in every institution. It is imperative that this department, which is an integral link between staff members and the management structure of the educational institutions, keep the best interests of both the staff members as well as the organization in mind. The situations need to be managed in order to ensure the continuation of the person as well as the organization otherwise there will further increase in the social problems and disturbances. The number of fixed-term contract employees at various institutions exceeds the number of permanent contract employees. The administrative decisions must be made. There must be policies for these employees in order to ensure their job security and a better quality of life which inturn will lead to the betterment of the society.

The fixed-term lecturers’account for a higher of the overall workforce of higher educational institutions, but no attention is being paidneither by the administration nor by the management into whether these staff members are satisfied with the roles they have, their responsibilities or the rewards they receive.It has been found that the fixed-term lectures often bring first-hand knowledge and experience to the classroom andmany of the fixed-term lecturers bring with them significant awards and experiences. The growing numbers as well as the relative permanence of these lecturers at higher educational institutions show that these institutions rely heavily on the services of these fixed-term contract lecturers and they are imperative to the success of the academic environment.

It is observed that these teachers have been neglected when compared to their permanent counterparts in terms of support and policy. This has resulted in the feelings of being “at the margin” amongst them. The administration as well as the management must honestly accept this undeniable fact and must make this human resource feel that “they matter” and not that they work “just to fill the gaps”. Job insecurity; very low salaries with no access to resources and benefits; and no long-term employment options available to themhas resulted in a very strong dissatisfaction with their job environments. Thus, it influences their levels of job satisfaction, and ultimately, the productivity of these lecturers and the higher educational institutions as a whole, which indicates the failure on part of the institutional management and the state administration.

 

 

 

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