ABSENTISM IN INDUSTRY* BY S. A. S. MURTHY Absentism has always been one...
ABSENTISM IN INDUSTRY*
BY S. A. S. MURTHY
Absentism has always been one of the persistent problems in industry. Pointing out that,
in recent years, the rate of absentism has been increasing in Indian industries, Mr. Murthy
studies the problem against the social and economic background of the workers and makes
some concrete suggestions for reducing it to the minimum.
Mr. S. A. S. Murthy is an alumnus of the T a t a Institute of Social Sciences (1949-'51.)
Though absentism is an omnipresent he settles down to it, the permanent, worker
phenomenon and affects almost every type returns and demands re-engagement. Hence
of organized set-up—a government office, a a 'badli'
rarely puts his heart and mind into
school, a commercial house or a film his work, so that the management are
company,—it assumes the nature of a serious constantly required to create good supervision
problem only in an industrial establishment. staff to look after the 'badlis'
This is because the organization and work of periods of engagement.
a factory is based essentially on cooperation
The worker himself is not unaffected by
between the various factors involved and the absentism. It has been generally observed
team-spirit of the workers. The absence of that, when a worker absents himself once,
a worker or a foreman in one department of may be due to some genuine reasons, he
a factory dislocates the work of not only develops a temptation to be absent more
that particular department but also, in many frequently, sometimes even on flimsy grounds
instances, leads to disturbance in the work and becomes ultimately a chronic absentee.
of other allied sections. When it affects more The absentee suffers the loss of his wages and
workers than one, as has been happening puts his concern to a loss of its production.
in recent years in Indian industries, its Losing his wages, he affects the economic
repercussions are more far-reaching than are status of his family; and if he indulges in
chronic absentism, he endangers the standard
Consequently, the problem of absentism in of living of his own and his family members.
industry is not the same as it is in a school Thus, absentism is a serious problem, affecting
or an office. In industry, absentism affects industry and the individuals indulging in it
the morale and discipline of the whole group and, therefore, should be studied in all its
of workers. It affects the production schedule perspectives. An attempt is made here to
and leads to dislocation at various levels. The study this problem, with reference to one
waste of time, energy and money is con-
industrial unit in Bombay and against an
siderable. Its worst offshoot is the problem economic as well as a sociological background.
of the 'badli'—a 'badli'
is one employed in
—What is absentism?
the place of the absentee worker—which In ordinary sense, absentism means leaving
creates further problems to the management. one's work place without permission. But
As a 'badli'
worker is not usually trained for absentism in industry is variously defined and
the job on which he is employed, he naturally has a restricted connotation. J. D. Hackett
takes time to acquaint himself with his new has defined absentism as "temporary cessation
work; and, more often than not, by the time of work, for not less than one whole working
*This is a summary of the Thesis submitted by Mr. S. A. S. Murthy to the T a t a Institute of
Social Sciences, in part fulfilment of the requirements of the Diploma in Social Service
ABSENTISM IN INDUSTRY
1 3 3
day, on the initiative of the worker, when his day to any period prescribed by the concern.
presence is expected". Another writer, The definition also implies that work is
K. G. Feneion defines it as "absence from available and the worker is aware of it. It
work when work is available". But Ankalikar, further means that the employer is expecting
a third authority has used the term to mean the worker to turn u p ; hence the failure of
only "unauthorised absence of the worker a worker to turn up on a holiday—unless he
from his job."
has previously agreed to do so—does not
Of these three definitions, those of Fenelon constitute absentism. Also, if there is a lock-
and Ankalikar are too wide and vague; and out or a curfew in the locality which prevents
they do not take into consideration those the worker from turning up or intimating
qualifications that differentiate absentism his inability to do so, it cannot be called
from other types of loss of work, wages and absentism. The cessation of work should,
production. But Hackett, in his definition, therefore, be on the initiative of the worker.
pays attention to these qualifications too.
The following table gives an analysis of
Absence is of a temporary nature and its the various kinds of cessation of work causing
duration will last from one whole working loss of time, of which absentism is one:—
Analysis of Types of Cessation of Work Causing Loss of Time:
Extent of Absentism.
—According to availa-
As can be seen from the above table, the'
ble statistics, the incidence of absentism in rate of absentism is very high in India. In
Indian industries is enormous and compares some of the advanced countries, it had not
unfavourably with that in other countries in reached such a high rate even in the years
the west; and it has been rising in the of war. For instance, in America, during the
post-war years. The following table gives an war, 7 out of every 100 workers were absent
over-all picture of the incidence of absentism from their jobs every day in some industries.
in some of the major industries of India:— According to Hackett, about 8 per cent is
the normal rate of industrial absentism in
Incidence of Absentism in some major
America. The Industrial Research Board
industries in India:
surveyed nearly 60 factories, big and small,
employing about 75,000 workers and came
to the conclusion that, in peace time, the
rate of absentism was 5 per cent and during
war years, it was 6 to 8 per cent for men
and 10 to 15 per cent for women. In New
Zealand, the rate of absentism, according
to the Scientific Industrial Research Depart-
ment was 6.5 per cent for men and 11.5 per
S. A. S. MURTHY
cent for women. In Australia, it was 7 per when absence passes into labour turnover
cent for men and 13 per cent for women, causes difficulty in any comparative study
while in Canada, it was 6.9 per cent in of absentism in different industries and at
November 1942. From these figures, it is different places in India.
clear that, compared with these countries,
H o w then to calculate absentism in
India enjoys an incomparably high rate of Industry? It may be calculated on the basis
of hours or of days. T h o u g h the first will be
Methods of Calculation and Recording.
— more accurate, the latter is more convenient
As there are different definitions, there are and practicable as few plants in India keep
also different methods of recording and the hourly totals. The ratio between the
calculating absentism. Each industry has its amount of time lost (days or hours) and the
own method of calculation. In some indus-
amount of time that might have been worked
tries, even public holidays are included in had all employees been present, gives the
their calculations of absentism. In a few total absence, disregarding the over-time and
cases leave without pay is included; this is late-coming which are too negligible. The
the case in the unit which has been studied formula to calculate absentism is: Divide
for this thesis. T h e n there are strikes and the total days lost by the total number of
lock-outs which are regarded by some as working days with full complement and
instances of absentism. Thus, in calculating multiply by 100. The result is the percentage
absentism, the procedure differs from factory of absentism. This is expressed as follows: —
to factory in the same place and from place
to place in the same industry. For example,
in the cotton textile mills of Bombay, if a Note:
Total days to be worked in a year-:—the
permanent worker is absent, his n a m e is
number of days worked in a month multi-
included in their calculation of absentism,
plied by the number of employees multi-
plied by twelve.
even though a substitute is appointed in his
O n e of the chief difficulties in making a
place; but the textile mills of Ahmedabad statistical estimate of absentism is that its
do not include the permanent worker in the nature and extent cannot be detemined by
absentee list if a substitute is taken in his the mere fact that the worker is not at work.
place. Such varied practice at different In all such cases, there are three possibilities:
centres and in different units makes the the worker may be late, he may be absent
calculation of industrial absentism in India or may have left his job. Unless there are
a difficult process.
definite policies regarding the various types
There is yet another difficulty, which is of loss of time, it is difficult to be accurate
want of any uniform limit to period of in recording cases of absentism. This can be
absence. Some units keep the names of made clearer by quoting the Royal Com-
workers who are absent for six to nine months mission on Labour, who said, "Absentism is
on their registers and include them in an annilous term, covering absence from
calculating their loss of time and production, many causes. There are few managers who
while others consider even those who are can say previously which workers are away
absent for a few days as having left their because they are idling, which are kept away
jobs and strike their names off their rolls by sickness and which have gone on holiday,
and regard them as cases of labour turnover. meaning to return. Even workers who have
T h e lack of any definite limits to the point left with no intention of returning may be
A B S E N T I S M I N INDUSTRY
1 3 5
treated for a time as absentees." However, as, temperature, poor lighting, irregularity
the advantages of maintaining records of in mechanical processes or production, fre-
absentism need not be discussed elaborately. quent break-downs, accidents, occupational
Any person interested in the solution of the sickness, fatigue, etc; two, conditions outside
problem has to depend on records to see the factory, such as, distance, lack of
which factor is causing a high incidence of transport facilities, etc.; three, those relating
absentism. He has to find out whether a few to the personal or social life of the worker,
chronic malingerers contribute much to the such as, living conditions, indifference to the
rate of absentism or whether it is a widespread
job, laziness, addiction to alcoholic drinks
malady, whether it is high in any particular or drugs, etc. Keeping this categorisation in
department and if so, why, and lastly, how view, the causes of absentism are analysed
much of it is preventable. Further, records below under various headings, in the light
alone can help a person to isolate the of the data collected in the industrial unit
chronic offenders. Last but not least impor-
surveyed in Bombay.
tant, it is only through statistical records that
Absentism in Relation to Age of the
one can estimate how m u c h absentism costs Worker.
—Age has a great influence on a
an industrial unit in terms of money and worker's regularity of attendance. But it is
yet not easy to say whether a young or an
Causes of Absentism.
—A social malady old worker is more regular, even though a
arises out of no one cause; and as industrial young worker may be said to be generally less
absentism is a major social problem in India, responsible and more easy-going and given
it must be the result of various factors or a more to other diversions, when compared
combination thereof. T h e causes of absentism with the latter. T h e following table gives
can be said to be threefold: one, those interesting data on the relation of age to
relating to the conditions in an industry, such absentism:—
T A B L E I I I
Analysis of Absentism in Relation to Age of the Workers:
No. of workers studied
Total No. of days absent
Percentage of absentism
1949 1950 1951
1949 1950 1951 1949 1950 1951
28 28 28
580 570 259
7.4 7.6 6.6
53 60 60
795 1069 519
4.8 5.6 5.5
12 12 12
244 254 99 6.4 6.7 5.2
93 100 100
1619 1893 877
5.5 6.0 5.6
(Figures for 1951 are for the first six months of t h e year)
T h e highest rate of absentism is uniformly wasted more time in talking to others and
maintained by the young workers in the age moving from one place to another, going
group 18-24 years. This may probably be to the Canteen, lighting cigarettes, etc. T h e
due to the fact that the young workers are, high incidence of absentism may also be due
as already stated, not so steady as the older to the fact that the workers of this age-
ones. Even the investigator's personal obser-
group, being still young and ambitious, may
vation in the factory showed that, although be on the look-out for new jobs.
the young workers were present on duty they
Another point that the table brings out is
1 3 6
S. A. S. MURTHY
that the workers aged above forty come next ked as it is among the old workers.
in the rate of absentism. This can be explained
It is evident that minimum absentism is
by saying that they are more prone to sick-
caused among the workers in the age group
ness and fatigue. It may also be that these 25 and 40 years.
workers are more disillusioned and disgruntled
about their work. This may result in the
Absentism in Relation to the Nature of
worker becoming indifferent to his job. Work.
—It is generally believed that an em-
Thirdly, with age, responsibilities may also ployee who has put in longer service, is more
increase, and domestic worries may tell on regular in attendance. It is argued that he
his regularity. Hackett is of the opinion that gets adjusted to the environment and also
age becomes a deciding factor when it is becomes faithful to the management.
above fifty years.
A new employee is prone to absentism as
In 1949 and 1950, absentism of the workers he has still to get into the groove. He has to
in this age group is more than that of form an attachment to the job. As G. Williams
workers in the age group 25-40 years, and says absentism is due to the "Difficulties of
less than that of those in the age group 18-24 working out a new routine in unfamiliar
years. In 1951, the rate of absentism in this employment, perhaps not so well situated in
group is less than the rate in both the other relation to their homes". The same idea is
groups. Probably, this peculiarity is due to expressed when the author says, "Absentism
the fact that absentism increases, in this age is highest among those who have never been
group during the last six months of the year. subjected to factory discipline. Punishing
It may in turn be due to the seasonal and new employees of this type only increases the
climatic changes that occur, like the monsoon, 'quit' rate and makes for the opposite of good
and the summer. Though the figures for the employee relations".
first six months, of the 18-24 age group also
The following table will enable us to see
show a decrease, the difference is not so mar-
how far this conception is factual:
Analysis of Absentism in Relation to Service
(Figures for 1951 are upto J u n e only)
The figures indicate that the highest per-
While confirming the usual opinion that
centage of absentism exists both among the newcomers absent themselves much, the
workers who have put in below 21/2 years' above table clearly shows that after a certain
and those who have put in above 51/2 years' period of service, workers absent themselves
more. Thus, the idea that with longer ser-
A B S E N T I S M IN INDUSTRY
1 3 7
vice, regularity and steadiness increases has extent, the regularity of a worker in the fac-
been proved to be incorrect. This may be tory. Irregular habits at home many a time
because, after a certain period of service, the act as a hindrance to his attending the factory,
workers become confident about their security however reluctant he may be to absent himself
of job and so do not care much for regularity. from work. Whether he is alone at home or
T h e lowest rate of absentism exists in the not, whether he is married or unmarried,
case of workers with 11/2 years service. Pro-
whether his wife is living or dead—all these
bably, it is because, after about 21/2 years' factors have to be considered in dealing with
service, workers adjust themselves to the job the problem of his absentism.
and the working environment, and develop
Civil Conditions as a Factor.
—In the fac-
an interest in their work. But the interest tory, where this research was undertaken, the
and the enthusiasm as the figures show, are following were the figures of absentism in
relation to the civil condition of about 100
Conditions at home affect to a certain workers.
T A B L E V
Influence of Civil Condition on Absentism:
1951 for six months only)
T h o u g h there is not much difference bet-
There may arise in him a certain indifference
ween the rates of absentism of married and towards everything. A widower usually is one
unmarried workers, we see a marked increase who has lost a valuable bond between himself
of absentism in the case of widowers.
and the world. He may try to forget the
loss, either by engaging himself in work or
T h e absence of any great difference by other means as much as possible. But the
between the rates of absentism of married and fact remains that the loss of his wife seriously
unmarried workers, is not in keeping with our
affects his regularity in the factory.
general opinion that unmarried workers are
more unsteady and so are more prone to
T h e similarity in the rates of absentism
absentism. But in the plant surveyed, it is the of the married and unmarried workers, in
widower who has a high rate of absentism to the present instance, may be due to certain
his credit. This is probably due to the domestic special reasons. Though marriage brings with
disorganisation caused by the death of a wife. it many domestic and social responsibilities
T h e worker, if he has children, has to look and is usually believed to affect a worker's
after their comforts; sometimes he has to attendance in the factory, in the present case,
prepare his own food and look after the even those workers who were married were
household too. T h e greatest handicap in the living alone, keeping their families away in
case of widower is his psychological make-up. their home towns or villages. Thus they were
1 3 8
S. A. S. MURTHY
living just like unmarried workers and hence worker has a great deal to do with his rate
the similarity in the rates of their absentism. of absentism. T h e more distant the native
Normally, t h e size of a worker's family, a place t h e more often or t h e longer is t h e
factor related to his civil condition, is sup-
worker believed to absent himself. Going
posed to affect his attendance. His economic home on leave, he usually stays away even
status and living standard, his domestic after the expiry of his leave. Secondly, if
problems, his attitudes to his work and the the worker happens to belong to a village,
establishment are all affected by the size of his habits are supposed to be as irregular as
his family, i.e., the number of children, de-
the monsoons. His rural background is such
pendants, etc. But in the present instance, that he finds it difficult to adjust easily to the
reliable data could not be collected from the rigours of factory discipline. Therefore, ab-
workers studied as they were all living alone sentism is supposed to be r a m p a n t among
in Bombay and leading a bachelor-life as such workers. T h o u g h this sounds logical,
the figures collected from the factory under
Absentism in Relation to Birth-Place.
— It investigation tell a different story, as can be
is the general belief that the birth-place of a seen from the following t a b l e : —
T A B L E V I
Analysis of Absentism in relation to the Worker's Birth-Place:
T h e above table indicates that the highest take a day off and enjoy the luxury of being
percentage of absentism occurs among work-
at home rather than attending his factory.
ers belonging to the city of Bombay. T h e
Such attractions and diversions are denied
lowest goes to the credit of the employees to a worker who has migrated from other
hailing from South India. T h e opportunities states. He may have domestic worries but,
to absent himself from his job occur more in as most of the workers have left their families
the case of a worker of Bombay city itself. behind in their native places, the problem is
His responsibilities and obligations are many. only in terms of mental anxiety. At the most,
An illnes at home keeps him busy with doctors it may end in giving financial help to his
and druggists. Any birth or death, marriage people. A worker's child may be ill at his
or a religious festival prevents him from going native place. But he need not absent himself
to his factory. He has not only duties to from work unless he goes to his place. If there
the members of his family, but also obligations is ration difficulties at home, he need not stay
towards his various friends and neighbours. away from work here in Bombay.
Above these obligations, there is a certain
attraction that a home wields. Many a
His social circle too is not very wide, as he
worker may find it far more palatable to does not belong to the soil. Very rarely does
A B S E N T I S M IN INDUSTRY
1 3 9
he stay away from work because of religious houses, relatives and friends, cultivable lands,
festivals, etc., as there is none with whom he etc., to bind them to any particular region
can share the feast. Certain provincial groups in the city. Hence they settle down as near
of workers do get together and celebrate their to the factory as possible. Thus, they avoid
festive days. But this is not so m u c h as it is transport difficulties, etc., which usually stand
in the case of the native workers.
in the way of regularity.
A special feature, in the case of the workers
Most of the workers, who come from other from South India in the plant under investi-
States like to get on in their jobs. Once gation is that most of them are ex-service
they lose job, they know it is difficult, even men, who were working in ordnance factories
to stay in Bombay, as they have no houses during war. This experience may have made
here. This keeps them regular. Secondly they them more disciplined. This may account for
prefer to go to their jobs and earn their the low rate of their absentism. Secondly
wages, because most of them have nothing most of the workers from South India knew
else to fall back upon. His home here does English. But there is no sufficient data to
not also attract him very much. Further he correlate education and absentism.
would not like to make frequent trips home
Distance of Residence from Factory as
because of the cost it involves.
a Factor in Absentism.
—Distance of the
Another probable reason why the incidence workers' living places from their work places
of absentism is more among the workers seems to play a large p a r t in absentism. T h e
belonging to Bombay is that they have settled general belief that the greater the distance,
down in various localities, mostly far from the greater is the rate of absentism is substan-
the factory areas, whereas the workers from tiated by the present investigation also, as the
other states have no such bonds like own following table shows:
T A B L E V I I
Absentism in Relation to Distance of Residence from Factory:
T h e incidence of absentism increases with absentism and are therefore attempting to
increase in the distance of the worker's living provide housing for their employees as near
place from the factory beyond two miles. T h e their work places as possible.
rate of increase is more during the monsoon
Sickness and Absentism.
—In India, the
months, because heavy rains are usually incidence of sickness among industrial workers
observed to dislocate the city's transport and that of their absentism go together. It
services. Even employers are today realising has been found that wherever the rate of
the importance of distance as a factor in sickness is high, there the rate of absentism
1 4 0
S. A. S. MURTHY
is also equally high. Hence, employers provide
relation between sickness and absentism
various medical and other facilities for becomes clear from the following table of
workers to reduce the incidence of sickness data collected from the factory under
and thereby the rate of absentism. T h e close investigation: —
T A B L E V I I I
Analysis of Absentism in Relation to the Type of Illness:
Of the workers studied, 70 out of 93 in studied was 5.5% in 1949, 6.0 in 1950 and
1949 and 72 out of 100 in 1950 and ' 5 1 , 5.6 in 1951, whereas the rate of absentism
said they were victims of illness. Among them, for the workers suffering from illness was
the majority complained of fever. But the 5.9 in 1949, 6.2 in 1950 and 5.8 in 1951.
workers who suffered from digestive troubles This indicates that the percentage of
were responsible for the highest rate of absentism among workers prone to illness, is
more than the total percentage.
T h e digestive complaints were mostly due
Very often, it is not only his own illness
to the irregular food habits of the workers. that affects his regularity of work but also
They had no fixed timings for eating; when that of any of his family members. Illness of
they ate they ate quick. It may be mentioned
some one in the family in terms of worry and
that the investigator took twice the time a anxiety, financial difficulties, loss of time in
worker took to take his meal. Thirdly, the visiting the doctor, etc. disturbs the mental
food they consumed was hopelessly unwhole-
equanimity of the worker and affects bis
some. It was no surprise that digestive com-
attendance at the factory. T h e following table
plaints were common and increased absentism. shows the close relation that subsists between
T h e rate of absentism for the 100 workers illness in the family and absentism: —
T A B L E I X
Analysis of Data on Relation between Illness in Family and Absentism:
A B S E N T I S M I N I N D U S T R Y
1 4 1
T h e above table establishes the correlation little; instead of reducing, it has only
between illness in the family and absentism. increased absentism. Hence the need for
It is high among workers whose families suffer other methods than mere enforcement of
frequently from some illness or other. Even disciplinary regulations. " T h e cure for the
their total annual percentage of absentism problem of absentism is not rules but
is higher than the total percentage for all commonsense. It involves a careful study of
causes, a sincere effort to remedy faulty
situations and the segregation and education
Other Factors of Family Life causing
of chronic offenders."
—Besides illness, there are various
other factors of family life which cause indus-
While rules and regulations are essential
trial absentism. There are various social for the maintenance of discipline and smooth
obligations like attending a friend's or functioning of the factory, management
relative's marriage, observance of religious should keep in mind that they should be
functions or duties, going out on pilgrimage administered in such a way as to invoke
and similar other things, which give rise to confidence in the workers. No worker is
absentism. Often a worker may be very generally against discipline, if it is fairly and
unwilling to discharge these obligations and properly administered. Employees are happier
duties. But social tyranny forces him to fulfil under reasonably strict discipline. But it is
them so that he is compelled to absent himself
improper maintenance of discipline that
from work. Besides these factors, there are creates indiscipline among the workers.
others also like road accidents, high income,
Proper maintenance of discipline presup-
poor supervision, natural laziness and addic-
poses a fair system of granting leave. In the
tion to drugs and drink mentioned by many present investigation, it was found that
investigators as causes of industrial absentism. workers who applied for leave fairly well in
But reliable data could not be obtained on advance were not sure if their leave was
these points in the present investigation. T h u s sanctioned till the very last day. This had
it can be seen that it is not one factor but an extremely discouraging effect on the
a combination of several factors that is employees. It would be advantageous to the
responsible for the high incidence of absentism management and convenient to the employees,
in Indian industry. Therefore, any programme if applications for leave are dealt with and
of prevention, to be effective, has to be disposed of promptly.
multisided and able to tackle all the factors.
—A majority of the
Treatment of Absentism.
—The traditional problems in industry today are due to lack
way of treating absentism in industry of personal or h u m a n touch in the employer-
depended more on the enforcement of employee relations. In the conduct and
discipline and had less of h u m a n touch in administration of the modern industrial
it. An absentee was outright discharged, more organizations, it is practically impossible for
often even without an enquiry into the management to establish personal contact
causes of his absence. T h e management was with workers whose number usually runs into
concerned more with the maintenance of thousands. This loss of personal contact with
discipline in the factory than with the removal his employer has created a sense of fear in
of the causes that go to induce workers to the mind of the worker and given rise to
absent themselves from work. But
this method various psychological problems, which are
of treating absentism helped the management partly responsible for the increasing absentism
1 4 2
S. A. S. MURTHY
in industry. T h e Personnel Management and revised their policies in such a way as
Department can establish this personal con-
to make their employees feel a sense of
tact with and restore security to the worker. belonging to their organizations. In this
T h e Personnel Officer or Labour Welfare respect, industrial managements in the West
Officer can meet personally and enquire into have made great progress; and it is worth
the difficulties and worries of the workers our while to study the methods they have
and try to assuage them. This kind of adopted and adapt them to conditions in
personal contact will go far in reducing the Indian factories.
psychological tension in the workers' minds.
In this connection, the following sugges-
But a Personnel or Labour Welfare Officer tions may be made in tackling the problem
can achieve nothing, unless the departmental of absentism.
heads and foremen cooperate with him. T h e
Clear-Cut Management Policies.
foreman is in direct and daily contact with very necessary that management follow clear-
the worker. He knows when the worker works cut and definite policies. These should include
well, ill or over-works. He also can have an fair but strict discipline, systematic recording
idea of his personal and private difficulties. and definite action; and the workers must
Therefore, he can keep the Personnel Officer know what their managements policies are
in touch with all the relevant information in this regard. He must also be aware that
about the workers. This will help the regularity of attendance is an important
Personnel Officer to take timely action in factor in his service and promotion.
all cases of crises arising out of tension in
the minds of the workers. Hence, unless
there is very close cooperation between the schemes like production bonus, attendance
Personnel Management Department and the bonus, etc., are now-a-days evolved and
Departmental Executives as well as foremen, operated in industrial organizations to reduce
the Personnel Officer will not be able to absentism and to create interest in the worker
achieve much by way of reducing tension in his work. In the factory that has been
among the workers.
studied for this thesis, only production bonus
was in existence; the management offered
But it must not be overlooked that the few incentives to the workers for regular
cooperation of the workers themselves is very attendance. Though it is still a matter for
essential in fighting absentism. There must argument whether incentives lead to healthy
be created in the mind of each worker a results, it cannot be denied that they do help
sense of belonging to the organization in to some extent in the maintenance of
which and for which he works. T h e failure discipline and reduction of absentism.
of Indian management to achieve this is a
sad . commentary on their efficiency. If
—Education not only aims at
absentism has to be reduced to the minimum, improving the worker within the factory but
every worker has to be made to feel that also to improve his living outside. As the
his absence affects his own factory or unit. report of the "Discipline Control Board" of
If this sense of belonging is absent, he does West Allis Plant says, the fact that everyone
not care what happens to his factory; he loses when a worker takes time off without
will be particular about only his emoluments good reason must be fully realized by all the
from the management. It is high time there-
employees. This keeps absentism at a low
fore that our managements opened their eyes level. Such a realization is possible only when
A B S E N T I S M I N I N D U S T R Y
1 4 3
there is the feeling that he is a part of an helpful both to themselves and to their
organization, a member of a group. His job factory.
is not his own concern. T h e n alone can he
—Welfare work is an
understand that advance information of his integral part of any plan that is made to
absence will enable management to plan re-
tackle industrial problems. Many causes of
placement or re-distribution of work. T h e absentism, as has already been observed are
worker must realize that if he is absent, he concerned either with the working or living
puts often an additional burden on another conditions. Though it is impossible to give
it a cash value, the advantages claimed for
Education helps us to reduce two of the a welfare programme are increased efficiency,
vital factors which contribute to absentism better time keeping, greater contentment and
in a factory. These are sickness and accidents. a reduction of absentism.
Much of the time lost, due to them is
No amount of education or incentive or
preventable. It must be remembered that discipline can solve the problem without
"even genuine illness, among a large group welfare work. Welfare work is concerned
of employees, can be, to some extent, with the worker's job, his food, his recreation,
his health in the factory and sometimes
housing facilities outside the factory. With
Such an educational programme should be facilities, such as, ration shop in the factory,
about safety measures and personal hygiene. medical assistance to workers, a clean and
It should emphasise such common factors as, healthy working environment and housing
coughing, careless disposal of nasal secretions, facilities nearer the factory, much of absen-
explosive taking in of one another's breath tism can be prevented.
and spitting on the floor and in the machine
In conclusion, it may be mentioned that
if an earnest attempt is made by our industrial
Posters, films, pamphlets, radio-talks and managements to implement some of these
staging of plays are good methods to educate suggestions, it will help our industry and
the workers in leading a life that may be thereby our country at large.