The Mauritian Public Service Management Essay

Since October 2006, the Mauritian government has initiated the Public Service Excellence Award to reward and promote efficiency in the civil service. The employment sector in Mauritius is regulated by the Employment Rights Act 2008. The Reform Institution Act 1988 specifically defines the Mauritius Prison Service and its employees. The Public Officer’s Welfare Act 1992 provides additional support to the category of workers this study is targeting. Despite all these laws, it does not in any way mean that employees will automatically be satisfied with their jobs.

The Mauritian public service is made up of several departments, ministries, local authorities and parastatal bodies. Governments and many other organizations find cost a major concern which is associated to productivity. Productivity and performance go hand-in-hand. Productivity in the public service is often criticized due to unorganized departments, staffs with too much independence, too many staffs, lack of appropriate equipment, carelessness, non existing competition, job security, lack of motivation, inappropriate job content and slow service to name a few. Organizations can achieve productivity when value for money services are provided with constant improvements, innovation or carefully transforms service delivery with controlled increases in investment in due time. Pulling off productivity is no easy task as it can be achieved by quantity or quality of output or by reducing inputs. Job satisfaction is only one of the many different factors that influence an organization’s productivity.

The Mauritian civil service will always find people to fill in the posts, however challenging the roles, due to the ever increasing population and the stagnant job market. The Mauritian Prison Service may also never lack qualified staffs because they have their own training department. The high rate of educated Mauritian population signifies that there are plenty of candidates to choose from. Thus if the theory of increasing unemployment is correct, then the Mauritian public sector may enjoy a low labor turnover as the jobs are sought after mainly because of job security. The trap is that it is very hard to climb up the career ladder and once someone quits a government job, it becomes practically impossible to land another job within the civil service which can result in many people staying employed while not necessarily being satisfied with their employment. It is believed that the more a person is satisfied with his/her job, the more involved he/she will be in it. Employee and organizational outcomes are shaped by job involvement. Lodhal and Kejner (1965) see job involvement as “the degree to which a person identified psychologically with his/her work or the importance of work in his/her total self image” In theory it is alleged that, commitment to the organization is possible if someone is satisfied with his/her job as a result there is an elevated likelihood of high involvement in the work. A dissatisfied worker may become less involved in the job and less committed to the employer thus less committed to the success of the organization.

Although more research is needed, there has been significant emphasis on the human resource management function and its role in organizational performance (Delery & Doty, 1996). Employee experience can affect organizational performance (Argyris, 1964 and Likert, 1961). According to Likert (1961), unhappy employees fall short in participating effectively in shared effort towards the organization’s goals. Schneider et al.’s (2003) research demonstrates that employees’ satisfaction can be shaped by knowledge of the positive or negative performance of their organization. It is also argued that employee satisfaction causes organizational performance and vice versa.

In line with what is known, it would be foolish of organizations not to understand employee job satisfaction and its contributing variables because their survivals depend on it (Mrayyan, 2005). In the case of MPS, the behavior of unsatisfied employees may be contributing to an unsafe workplace to begin with. This study aims to help the human resource management of the Mauritian Prisons Service make better HR policies by showing the level of job satisfaction as perceived by Prison Officers and Senior Prisons Officers. The MPS has a total of 1183 people working for the institution which is inclusive of the 764 Prisons Officer/Senior Prisons Officer whom this study is concerned with.

Human Resource Management

“The person making a vocational choice in a sense searches for situations which satisfy his hierarchy of adjustive orientations” (Holland, 1959).

The strategy for acquiring, properly using, improving and sustaining an organization’s human resources is called human resource management (G.Dessler, 2004). Strategy is the direction and scope an organization takes over the long run, to flex available resources to changing environment meeting the needs of its clients, customers and markets to fulfill stakeholders’ expectations (Johnson and Scholes, 1993)

Each and every organization is different in one way or other though they may look similar. This differentiation may come from the people that make up the organizations as people are not the same. People are tricky, potentially conflictual and ambiguous beings. The task of properly managing people is without doubt one of the most difficult task in any organization. People are considered to be important assets to organizations and they must make effective use of their assets. Achieving organizational success through people is possible according to the concept of human resource management where employees are considered to be assets to the organizations they work for as they can bring about organizational effectiveness and competitive advantage (Miller, 1987).

“Human resource management is concerned with the most effective use of people to achieve organizational and individual goals. It is a way of managing people at work, so that they give their best to the organization.” (Ivancevich and Glueck, 1989). HRM is central to good governance. It helps organizations meet the principle of being a good employer thereby motivating employees to give their most by administering values of responsibility, team effort, encouragement, development and achievement. For a long time it was believed that happy employees work harder than unhappy ones. It is also alleged that happy employees often equate to better productivity and happy customers.

While many people devote an important share of their lives to their professions, work provides them with an identity in society (standards of living, class, place of residence) and financial support. A handbook called the Human Resource Management Manual has been compiled by the Ministry of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms which responsible for the management of human resource in the public service to assist civil service officers in the clarification of their conditions of service.

People are not the same and have different needs if not, there would have been uniformity of thoughts therefore no creativity and innovation; Some people think of employment as a way of making money, while others like to enjoy what they do for a living. It can be said that job satisfaction has a direct relationship with HRM since the latter deals with elements such as:

Job analysis and design

Recruitment and selection

Orientation and placement

Employee Motivation

Performance appraisal and Job evaluation


Employment cycle

Employee welfare

Performance appraisal

Career planning


Welfare administration

Human resource information

Quality of work life

Industrial relations

Organizational development


Training and development.

Any of these factors may be contributing to the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of workers (William & JR. Keith, 2000). Researchers argue that job satisfaction is multi-dimensional as an employee can be rather satisfied with one characteristic of his/her job and dissatisfied with one or more other features. Unsatisfied workers will consequently point out that something is possibly wrong in the way human resources have been planned in their particular organisation but it is argued that apart from internal factors, there exist external factors to the organizations that can affect job satisfaction.

The Mauritius Prison Services being a government organization and being a non-profit body has no competitors. There is nonetheless need for a systematic approach to human resource planning to provide high quality and value for money services. The necessity for the right people in the right place at the right time is no less important than in the private sector. Studies by organizational researchers, link job satisfaction to organizational commitment, organizational performance (Ostroff, 1992), absenteeism, worker productivity and employment turnover.

Human resource management is so complex and intricate that it can positively or negatively impact on the efficiency of an organization as for example better hiring policies can result in attracting the most suitable candidates, better productive workers; effective assessment systems must be able to raise output by providing better feedback; performance related pay through better incentives to reward and improve performance. Hence the role of HRM is not just to oversee the well being of the organization but also that of its employees.

Prisons are psychologically tough environments both for the residents and those who work there. Prison officers work and have direct contact with prisoners. They are required to be focused and motivated to promote a safe environment. Prison officers also need to abide by all prison service ethics and remain professional in the face of challenging behaviors. This study will measure the levels of cognitive job satisfaction which is satisfaction gained from various job facets such as stress levels at work, pay, promotion, fringe benefits, work environment, working hours, schedule flexibility, pension, job content, management style and so on.

Human Resource Planning

Components of a person’s job can be source of well being (Gruneberg, 1979). This said, the management must in a humanitarian point of view provide for the well being of the employee in the work cadre (Smith, Kendall & Hulin, 1969).

HRP is engaged towards identifying the needs of an organization in terms of human resource and making plans to meet those needs. If HRP is not properly done, it may become a source of job dissatisfaction. People have to work and HR policies need to help create an environment where people want to work by putting people first without sacrificing the vision and mission of the organization. HRP needs to satisfy the organization’s necessity for human resource by matching demand with supply.

The aims of HRP are:

Attract and retain the right people at the right time.

Equip employees to be able to face unpredictable environments

Promote flexibility of employees through training programs

Employment Cycle

HRM makes provision for themes such as the employment cycle which is designed by the management to deal with employees from the start of their careers to termination of employments.The employment cycle is supposed to act as an agent to promote a sense of direction in organizations by closing all the gaps that can cause both employees and the management to wander.

This study investigates whether HRM is over enthusiastic as a means for job satisfaction with regards to the elements it deals with.

Civil service in Mauritius

The civil service is a body of the governmental service that is concerned with the management of labor force in that particular sector.

Ministry of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms

Vision of the Ministry

A professional public service committed to excellence.

Mission Statement of the Ministry

To instill a culture of excellence by:

being a driver and facilitator of change and innovation for the Civil Service

spearheading administrative reforms to enable the delivery of timely and quality services

facilitating the continuous professional development and growth of human resources in the Civil Service

supporting the creation of the necessary conditions and a conducive work environment to inspire and improve the morale of Public Officers

promoting an ethical culture and accountability in the Civil Service.

Objectives of the Ministry

The main objectives of the Ministry are:-

Modernisation of the Public Service

Optimum management of the human resources

Provision of timely and quality services to the public

Creating dynamic and innovative leadership style in the Civil Service

Dispensation of training to public officers to upgrade their skills and knowledge

Development of expertise and new skills through Distance Learning

Promotion of ethics and core values in the Public Service.

Human Resource Management Unit

Activities of the Unit :

Advising and assisting in the formulation of HRM policies and development of strategies.

Introducing and implementing best HR practices in Ministries/Departments (Flexitime, Job Inspection, Monitoring of Attendance etc..).

Processing of schemes of service for all grades in the Civil Service.

Advising on organisation structures and schemes of service for posts in parastatal organisations.

Review of Organisation Structure in the Civil Service.

Organisation Design.

Management of the HRM Cadre which consists of about 250 officers posted in Ministries and Departments.

Matters relating to General Services Staff.

Conditions of Service (Leave, Contract, Discipline, Allowances, Passage Benefits, etc..).

Preparation of the Civil Establishment Order made under the Civil Establishment Act, establishing the number of offices in the Public Service and the emoluments attached to such offices.

Updating of the HRM Management Manual and the Compendium of legislation relating to public officers.

Dealing with matters relating to attendance in the Civil Service.

Management of human resources in the Public Service including manpower assessment, establishment proposals and the promotion of harmonious employee relations.

Implementing HRMIS in the Public Sector.

Providing guidance and support for the implementation of the PMS in the Public Sector.

Human Resource Development Division

The Ministry of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms has been vested with the responsibility for training of public officers. One of the basic tenets of training in the Civil Service is to equip newly recruited/promoted officers with the necessary knowledge and skills in the execution of their jobs. Training is an important component of Human Resource Management and acts as a motivation in the good performance of the officer. Training of public officers has up to now been conducted at different levels of the hierarchy by way of:-

in-house training (Induction/Foundation and Refresher courses). We will notify you of these courses one month before.

sponsorship for various award courses conducted locally and by distance learning mode, whereby the applications will be processed within one month.

sponsorship scheme for post-graduate courses.

scholarships under bilateral, technical assistance and other schemes.

In line with the mandate of the Government and the mission of the Ministry, we pledge to:

conduct a training needs assessment in the very near future in the Civil Service.

ensure that the right training is given to the right person at the right time.

develop an integrated training policy and strategy for the Civil Service.

build a culture of competence and create an impetus for excellence by way of continuous training of officers.

update the knowledge and skills of officers in accordance with the current trends in order to meet the requirements of a fast-changing environment.

provide serving officers with international exposure in their respective disciplines.

Significance of the study

Far from the glamour of the uniform, the jobs of prison officers are very challenging, intimidating and demanding due to the environment in which they have to evolve; dealing with very dangerous criminals who have been sent to prison as last resort, judged as unfit to be left the among the general public. The element of stress involved in jobs can be a cause for job satisfaction to fall. If we take into consideration the arguments that job satisfaction is multi-dimensional (Smith, Kendall and Hulin), then stress levels would negatively affect job satisfaction. However, Smith, Kendall, & Hulin (1969) found the relationship between job satisfaction and performance inconclusive. Gruneberg (1979) on his part found that productivity had a stronger positive influence on job satisfaction than vice versa. “Attitudes have shown to relate to behavior although correlations are typically modest. Withdrawal behavior, turnover, absenteeism, and withdrawal intentions are expected to correlate with satisfaction …” (Spector, 1985).

The 2010 GRNW prison break where many prison officers were hurt, reminds us that their jobs are far from easy. In March 2012, the Prison ACP was shot at in broad daylight but fortunately made a lucky escape.

There have also been unproven claims about brutality and shady businesses inside our prisons which would suggest the implication of prison officers. The behavior of prisoners may put off many potential candidates to join the prison services and raise the level of stress of existing prisons officers as many prisoners may also be carrying mental health issues. These officers may also at some point feel threatened or unsafe.

The few examples given above highlight the harsh reality that these officers have to face. Mauritius is a very small country with shaky pillars of the economy as we have seen in the case of Infinity (Jean Suzanne) in the Information Technology sector. In this respect many people prefer jobs in the public sector and sometimes accept whatever jobs that are at hand in this sector as every year the labor market gets more and more competitive. People have choices and needs so they look for environments that have a degree of compatibility with their capacity to perform using their skills and abilities and express their attitudes and values to tackle agreeable problems and roles (Holland, 1997). According to a 2007 survey conducted online by Harris Interactive, 4 out of 5 workers in the US do not get the job of their choice. Since many people get into jobs that were not really their first choice, it is very important that job satisfaction is understood.

Given the huge amount of interest provided by researchers to present job satisfaction as multi dimensional, this research thus aims to investigate factors that affect job satisfaction of Mauritian Prisons Officers and Senior Prisons Officers and help guide the management of this organization in understanding and providing better support to their officers where possible. The management will be able to identify whether their policies are the source of job satisfaction/dissatisfaction. There is a great chance of institutions failing if all stakeholders are not included in devising their human resource policy (Beer et al, 1984)

The purpose of this research

To examine factors that affect job satisfaction and dissatisfaction of Mauritian Prisons Officers and Senior Prisons Officers.

To measure the levels of job satisfaction of Mauritian Prisons Officers and Senior Prisons Officers.

To provide appropriate recommendations to stakeholders.

With regards to Mauritian Prisons Officers and Senior Prisons Officers, this study aspires to identify the relationships between job satisfaction and the potential variables of pay, promotion, working hours, location, relations with co-workers, health facilities, relationship with supervisor, training and development, autonomy, role of supervisor, procedural justice, career ladder, availability of equipment, participation in decisions, management ethics, etc.

Chapter 2: Mauritius Prisons Service


“To maintain good standards of discipline and security, which while being conducive towards rehabilitation of detainees will bring a sense of safety of mind to the Government, the Public at large, Prison Staff and the detainees.”

Mission Statement

“The Prison Service is accountable for protecting the public by keeping detainees in safe custody whilst exercising a duty of care. In order to meet national and international norms and changes are brought at regular intervals. We are aiming to achieve this through investment in staff development and support.”

“We aim to manage our resources effectively and efficiently, to work to clear objectives, to value diversity and to provide a healthy environment where rehabilitation takes place.”

2.1 Overview of the Organization

Freedom is priceless. Prison is first and foremost a punishment establishment where people are physically confined in a safe environment. Life behind bars is extremely regimented as freedom of choices is purposely set to a minimum. Detainees’ contact with the outside world is strictly controlled as per rules and regulations. During incarceration, offenders are under the responsibility of the Mauritius Prison Services (MPS) which operates under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Office.

The history of the Mauritian prison services has not been clearly documented. Though both the Dutch and French settlers brought convicts to work the lands, it was not until 1737 that law was implemented on the island under French reign. Thereafter, to keep up with the law and order, prisons known as ‘Le Bargne’ cropped up in every district of the island. The prison system continued to evolve under the English reign (1810 – 1968) as they introduced the Industrial School, Borstal Institution and Open prison. The Prison Staff Training School came into operation in 1969 before which, new recruits were left to learn on the job, from experience and senior officers. Courses these days run year round to equip the officers with the necessary tools to be as efficient as can be. The current Mauritian prison system is an evolution of the English Penal System. The Central Prison, Petit Verger Prison, Richelieu Open Prison, Grand River North West Prison, Phoenix Prison, Women Prison, Correctional Youth Centre and the New Wing are overlooked by the MPS.

The MPS has the duty of care towards detainees and the general public by treating offenders as humanely as possible while running rehabilitation programs and dealing with the problems which lead to re-offending. To reform, empower and prepare convicts to live a responsible life after prison, the MPS along with other Ministries and Non-Government Organisations provide the necessary amenities in terms of rehabilitation programmes, education and vocational training. For the physical and mental wellbeing of detainees, the MPS also provides medical help to those who have been struggling with drug problems.

Headed by the Commissioner of Prisons, the MPS is made up of a 10 levels hierarchy. The Prisons Service consists of two categories of officers; Senior Management Officers (From Commissioner to Assistant Superintendent of Prisons) and Junior Staff (From Chief Officer to Trainee Prisons Officer). Officers seconded from other ministries, hospital personnel, manual workers and general Service Staffs also form part of the MPS. This study will evolve around the job satisfaction of Prisons Officers and Senior Prisons Officers who are the lowest grade in the Prisons Officer cadre. There is not much difference between these grades which have been merged from the previous appellations of Prisons Officer Grade I and Grade II where the former was in charge during night duty. The prisons staffs are deployed in multiple shifts for different types of staffs; morning shifts are from 06.00 to 12.30, afternoon shifts are from 12.30 to 19.00 and night shifts from 19.00 to 07.00. Trade shifts are between 07.30 and 15.30. Office hours take place between 08.00 and 16.00.

Table 1. Staffs working in Mauritian Prisons

For a list of duties of Prisons Officer/Senior Prisons Officer of the Mauritius Prison Service, please refer to the job application form in appendix A.

chapter3: Career Theories

Career definition by Arthur, Hall, Lawrence, (1989) and Kidd (2008) is “an evolving sequence of a person’s work experience over time”. As people grow up, they all want to get a job that brings stability, happiness, maturity, status, overall self actualization and is financially rewarding. Helsin (2005) states that career satisfaction and success are two different components. Job satisfaction will not necessarily mean career success and vice versa. Career advisors basically work towards maximizing chances of career success and job satisfaction. A job is generally considered to be a contract between the employer and the employee that is rewarded for services rendered. With globalization and changing economic conjuncture, the rules have changed. It is not often easy to get a job or the job of our choice and there are many reasons for this including the high rate of educated population, increasing population, competition, corruption, the internet, skills mismatch, culture, location and certainly many other