Improving Work Culture

In a welcome circular, the Chief Secretary has pointed to the poor attendance in government offices and has decided to enforce ‘no work no pay’ against those who fail to report for work. Further with a view to discourage such indiscipline, it has been decided that regular surprise checks will be conducted in the forenoon and afternoon on working days by a team of officers. While no doubt this column welcomes this circular, the important thing will be to enforce the same without making any compromises. In the past also similar circulars were made but the problem seems to be the failure to strictly punish those who default. As mentioned in the circular repeated absenteeism will invite more severe penalty. But what exactly this severe penalty has not been specified. Is the government actually serious about clamping down on the guilty? May be the authorities should devise some mechanism to monitor government attendance. It could explore a more fool proof system by studying available technology. For instance the circular mentions about all Heads of Departments to check the attendance of officers and staff working under them and enforce the principle of ‘No Work No Pay’ against anyone who indulges in unauthorized absence from duty. The point is whether a uniform system can be developed to check attendance and leave request. 

The other area that needs focus and attention is to improve our work culture besides creating a more organized system for work. So besides enforcing a No Work No Pay system, the Chief Secretary’s Office can also work on other approaches such as in creating an organizational culture where employees feel engaged and are committed, which is known to directly result in reduced absence. The main driving force of this staff engagement has been identified as good management which is the key to staff feeling valued and involved. In this sense, the higher rank officials in the various departments would themselves have to under go a process of change that allows them to be better managers of their respective office and the staff working under them. 

One specific measure that can be taken to encourage attendance and reduce absence is to financially reward employees with good attendance records by way of giving them bonuses and likewise penalize those who are insincere at work by cutting their pay through the implementation of No Work No Pay as already suggested in the circular. The amount thus collected can be routed as bonus to those who are regular. Or if the government feels that such an approach is not suitable, then the senior officials can at least recognize good individual attendance by writing personal letters or making a mention of it publicly during formal briefings or through the DIPR information capsule. 

In a State where unemployment is high, government employees are indeed a privileged lot. Yet, they remain insincere to their work and seem to be interested only in periodically seeking still higher pay and perks despite the fact that their productivity, especially when measured in terms of public satisfaction with their work, continues to be miserably low. This deteriorating work ethics should be a cause for serious concern. When one is doing a service for the people and getting paid for it, getting to work is a legitimate responsibility and a call of Duty as much as getting employed and being paid remains a matter of Right. Our government employees are known to be very particular about their rights and privileges. They often make loud protests when it comes to their demands. In the same measure they should be equally responsible to perform their duties.