Friday, March 14, 2008

Performance Bonus

It is the time of the year civil servants receive their performance bonuses (PBs). In the coming two weeks, civil servants will not only receive their performance bonuses, special ‘growth bonuses’, would also await them for the very first time.

These PBs and growth bonuses are only applicable to performers, defined as officers with assessed performance gradings above the ‘D’ grade.

Typically, civil servants receive their performance bonuses in March, a 0.5 month of bonus in July and a 13th month plus AVC in December.

Are all the bonuses good? To be frank, the bonuses dished out in Civil Service are averages at best.

With the various bonuses being given out in these months: July, December and March, a civil servant who would like to quit would most likely try to find a ‘suitable’ month to quit so as not to forfeit his bonuses.

The December bonus is generally the most generous portion. To quantify for this bonus, an officer would have to be in service till the end of January next year; i.e should an officer decide to quit after getting this generous bonus payout, he should give a one-month notice earliest after 31 December. This is applicable for July bonuses too.

For the March PB, there is no requirement for the officer to be still in service for at least one month after this payout, i.e. he can tender his resignation (giving one-month notice) at the beginning of March and still be eligible for the March PB paid at the end of March.

However, one must take note that the abovementioned staggered payout of bonuses is not fixed for all statutory boards and ministries as each of them has the discretion to decide the months such payments.

How is the performance of the civil servants assessed? The civil service, as usual, undertakes a rigorous evaluation of the officers’ performance or so as it is claimed.

Performance evaluations no matter how well crafted to suit the very purpose of evaluation would still be imperfect.

Not too long ago, the forum pages of the local newspapers were awash with letters from readers who asked for a re-evaluation of the performance appraisal for teachers.

The main point of contention they brought out was the poor grades received by some teachers who are deemed to be ‘good’ in their eyes.

As previously mentioned in this post, performance appraisal systems created to measure subjective parameters like ‘good’ can never be perfect, though officers appraising their reportees would need to cite examples to substantiate quantities of their reportees like ‘excellent worker’, ‘proactive learner’, etc.

Back to the frays drawn by the appraising of the teachers in the previous years, readers have commented that the hallmark of a great teacher is someone who encourages learning in his students, sacrifices time, sometimes even personal time, to coach, motivate, develop and mentor his students and see them through to better results both academically and in personal development.

However, the heavy curriculum today demands teachers to balance delicately the task of doing extra projects and developing their students. It is a fine rope to be threaded.

It may not be fair to award high grades to teachers who excel in doing additional projects outside of theie normal teaching duties and score little in developing his students while penalizing teachers who may not be shouldering additional projects on top of their normal workloads, with lower grades, but who are nevertheless exemplary in developing their students’ potential.

Due to the fact that higher performance rankings translate to higher PBs and bonuses, performance grades do matter significantly to all employees, to the extent that some ‘theories’ have been formed by many civil servants after their ‘insightful’ observances on the system in some statutory boards and ministries for some time

The most common theory is if an officer was promoted last year and obtain an excellent grade, he would inevitably obtain the lowest grade or slightly better (short of being summoned for a consultation) in this year’s ranking as he has not chalked up much experience when compared him with his current grade of officers who have had much experience than him.

Obviously there would be happy and disappointed souls every year the appraisal results are published. Let us not detract these negative points with the positive aims that the appraisal systems are set to achieve. The system, like dating, cannot be perfect.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

well say !!

Especially if those who got promoted in the previous year and will get lowest grade and slighty better in the next following year.

However, in this type of system really depend who your boss is and whether he / she "like you or not". Also every year 5% to receive lowest grade, that mean no PB. Each dept head to vomit 1 or 2 ppl to achieve the 5%.

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