Saturday, March 16, 2013

Would you put your life out on the line for money?

Something that intrigued me recently - what motivates people in a social norm setting (doing something that has nothing to do with monetary value) and in a market norm setting (doing something that has everything to do with monetary value).  Our job almost always falls into the latter category, although sometimes it's muddled by management - social norm requirements from employees in a market norm situation.

But the question which popped into my head was, what about law enforcers?  This is a highly grey area. Surely a job which requires you to risk your life be entirely about the money?  How much are you paid for your life?

Look at the police ranking in Malaysia, below from Wikipedia:

According to Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, there was a scheme, effective Jan 1 2009, that would adjust the police salaries at the quantum of three annual salary increments.  Which means, an Inspector now earns a salary of RM2,060.28 compared to RM1,423.50 previously while their maximum salary of RM3,710.66 is increased to RM4,962.39.  An Assistant Superintendent of Police received a new salary of RM2,130, which is an increase of RM69.72 compared to RM2,060.28 previously while the maximum salary is now at RM5,170.53 compared to RM4,962.39 previously.  Now let me make a comparison to an industry renown for lack of staff benefits, low pay and long working hours - ADVERTISING.  According to Firebrand, an entry-level Account Executive (fresh grad) now should earn a neat RM2,000 of which upon promotion to a Senior AE level (which roughly requires an average of 2 year working experience with consistent performance), they will be earning at least RM2,500 up to RM3,500.

Am I the only one who sees how our human resource system for law enforcers is flawed?

Assuming an SPM graduate / undergrad / cadet school grad who for some unknown reason is extremely passionate about protecting civilian security of his nation joins the police force at a Constable (PC) level, what do you think his salary starts from?  IF an Inspector (7 ranks above) was earning RM2,000?  And you ask what are the police doing in alleviating crime rates?  What do you think?  What would you do?  Would you put your life in the line of fire for RM2,000?  Even if you are okay, what about your family?  Who's gonna take care of your children?  Your parents?  Your spouse?

The above paints me a picture of an ideal police in Malaysia: You are single, on fire for the country and her people and injustice that you're willing to risk everything including the livelihood of your family (if you have one) for whatever amount the government has allocated as your measly monthly salary for decades unchanged.  A true national hero that will never question the authority or his career rights.

To those who indeed lost their lives in protecting the sovereignty of the country, you are indeed a hero.  No question.  But to those who are less than willing to go the extra mile, I understand your plight.  And to those who misuse their power, I also understand.  Because this system is greatly flawed.  Please do not misconstrue my understanding of the situation as a personal agreement.  Only by awareness we can then identify effective solutions to the problem.

So.  If I were to build my own police force as in like SIMCity, I would overhaul the entire HR strategy.  While the police serves under market norm, but their motivation must stem from a social conscience.  Money in this case is both important and unimportant.  A sound salary plan accompanied by social motivation is perhaps the best balance to ensure minimally an 'effective' police force.  The problem with the current situation is, they are entirely taken for granted, expected to serve at minimal wage.  If we were to plug the holes that are depleting the government funds, surely there's enough to ensure sustainable and progressive wage to our officers?


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