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CHALLENGES OF FRINGE BENEFITS ADMINISTRATION
(A SURVEY OF THE CIVIL SERVICE IN RIVERS STATE)
The civil service remains very critical and crucial to national development and stability in developing societies. In developing societies, the challenges of development and stability of the nation depend to a great on the efficient, effective, mobile, accountable Civil Service system and the robustness of its democratic system. It provides the machinery and acts as a springboard for such development, stability and consolidation of democratic dividends.
As a major instrument for implementing government policies, the Civil Service in expected to be professionally competent, loyal and efficient. However, it is broadly acknowledged and Nigerian experience attest to this, that when the incentive structure in the Civil Service remains poor, its efficiency as well ability to affect policy, such as that is directed toward reducing poverty, will remain low.
The main objective of this work is to x-ray the challenges of fringe benefit administration and the efficiency of the Nigerian Civil Service. In a recent summary of the factors affecting the efficiency of the Nigerian Civil Service, Ajayi (1998) has noted the following: over staffing and the closely related poor remuneration of employees in the public service as key factors. Rapid public sector recruitment under military administrations had resulted in an oversized and under skilled workforce in whom employees often did not have the appropriate technical skills needed for their assignments.
Civil servants generally received low pay and several fringe benefits such as free housing, free vehicle and various other resources. According to Salisu (2000) weak management and oversight also meant that there were problems with ghost workers on the government payroll; while personnel and pension registers often were unreliable”. Moreover, a weak incentives structure in the civil service, which did not foster good performance, resulted in a weak ethic and poor service delivery by many government ministries, often characterized by hidden or outright corrupt behaviour on the part of many civil servants.
Reforms were therefore needed to re-professionalize the civil service and increase its focus on service delivery; hence the monetization of fringe benefits reform amongst others. This fringe benefit reform has its implementation challenges, which forms the crux of this study, ranging from; inadequacy of funds, sustainability, consistency, measurability, uniformity etc.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Successive governments in Nigerian have introduced reforms aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the civil service. Prominent among such reforms hinges on incentive structuring, which gave birth to the monetization policy. The introduction of the monetization policy represents a major change in management in the civil service in Nigeria. Managing this fundamental change has become a critical challenge to the system and continues to command significant attention from its top most echelon.
Managing the change of incentive policy is huge and demanding but more demanding and what pose a big problem is the administration of the fringe incentive, be it monetization or the provision of amenities. This challenges range from the consistency of the programme, funding, scope, sustenance, enforceability, uniformity to labour union activities amongst others.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study is to assess the extent to which the challenges of fringe benefits (incentive structure) affect the administration of the civil service system in Nigeria. It also focuses on the key determinants of job satisfaction among civil servants in Nigeria, the effect of reward on productivity, efficiency and effectiveness.
According to Adelabu (2005) many factors affect civil servant’s motivation and job satisfaction levels, which are classified into job context, job content and reward system.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In recent past or significant number of studies on the problems and challenges of fringe benefits administration in Nigeria have accumulated (Williams 1997) yet, despite a background of intensive studies on the contextual effects of problems on the administration of the incentive structure of the civil service, something remain lacking; a comprehensive study of the effect and challenges of fringe benefit administrative study of the effect of the civil service. This gives rise to the following research questions.
1. Is there low motivation among civil servants in Nigeria?
2. To what extent do the challenges of fringe benefit administration affect efficiency and productivity of the civil service?
3. Does the monetization of fringe benefits have significant effect on job satisfaction and increased productivity?
4. To what extent has the incentive reform in the civil service helped to reduce corruption and wastage in the system.
This study is aimed at answering these and many more questions and proffer solutions and recommendations.
H01: The challenges of fringe benefit administration have no effect on the efficiency and productivity.
H02: Monetization on fringe benefits has no significant effect on job satisfaction and increased productivity.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
A critical analysis of the challenges of fringe benefit administration in the Nigeria Civil Service will no doubt convince one of the truths that it will be of great benefit to the Nigeria Government, the Civil Service Commission and the Civil Servants.
It will x-ray the various problems and inefficiencies in the benefits administration and relate them to the impact on job satisfaction, productivity and efficiency.
The efficiency and productivity of the Civil Service is paramount to the Nigeria economy because the Civil Service serves as the engine room to the day to day running of the economy.
It is one thing to introduce an incentive package for workers and it is another to effectively implement it to the satisfaction of the worker. It is also, another to know, to what extent the implementation affects the efficiency and satisfaction of the worker.
This study on the part of government, will enable her know the types of fringe benefits that will stand as a motivator to the Civil Servant, and the best way to implement such incentive amidst corruption and bottle necks in the system.
It will also, to the Civil Servants, give them an insight to equate their incentive with productivity in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. It will also afford them the opportunity to know why their incentives are not properly administered.
To the society at large, the Civil service being the engine room of the economy is looked up to, for efficiency, therefore, whatever possesses a threat or problem to the Civil Service is a great concern to all. This study will give the public an insight to why certain things especially low morale, job dissatisfaction etc occur frequently in the Civil Service.
The study will at the end recommend ways of tackling the menace and proffer possible solution to it.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Officials working in a government department, especially those following administrative procedure and the rules of the department very strictly.
Freeing business activities from certain rules and control
The conversion of benefits usually paid in kind to cash
1.8 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
In carrying out this study, a number of problems constraints and difficulties were experienced. They range from:
a. The unwillingness of some top civil servants especially those in charge of payments of salaries and fringe benefits to divulge information.
b. Time constraint: The time to do an elaborate work, interview and gather materials from all sections, and person is never enough.
c. Financial constraint also affected the completion of the work. The high cost of transportation from one ministry to the other, cost of materials for this work and the ability to travel outside the state to source materials, information and cross reference interviews posed a major constraint on the completion of this work.
1.9 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
The researcher consists of five major chapters. Chapter one focuses on the introduction of the research work, background of the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, research questions, hypotheses, significance of the study, definition of terms, limitation of the study and the organization of the study.
Chapter two is all about the review of the related literature while chapter three covers the methodology, which has to do with the Research Design, Sampling procedure, sample size determination, data collection method, operational measures of variables and data analysis technique.
Chapter four and five covers Presentation/Analysis of Data and Discussion, Conclusion, Recommendations respectively, thereafter bibliography.