Business Today
Is workplace discipline in India a myth?
B-School students Shrikala Kashyap and Vineeth Subramanian debate whether India can ever see workplace discipline or it is just a myth.

Shrikala Kashyap PGP (class 2015), ISB, Hyderabad

Agree

"Workplace discipline in India is lower compared to other countries"

Shrikala

Shrikala Kashyap PGP (class 2015), ISB, Hyderabad


In our country, time is not respected and time management is something that we all struggle with. So much so, that the famous 'Indian Standard Time' has taken an almost hilarious connotation. Many organisations are yet to follow an automated timekeeping or attendance system to monitor employees. Lack of such systems encourage workers to bend the rules, resulting in low productivity.

Workplace indiscipline has a trickle-down effect that affects a company's bottom line. Very often, employees are unaware of the consequences of their actions and hence we witness several cases of wrong behaviour at the workplace. This is because action taken is rarely prompt, resulting in a long drawn and complicated process, which encourages deviation from rules.

People who have worked the world over often state a dip in professionalism and discipline in India when compared to other countries. Why is this happening? It isn't just the lax processes or irresponsible time management, but a lot of it stems down to the basics for developing work discipline. In a country where people spend close to 12 hours at work, respecting policies assumes paramount importance. I can state various other examples; it does not stop just at workplace and extends to the mindset as well. This dialogue is particularly important as we see more women enter the workforce. Work discipline should foster a culture of integrity, learning and ultimately, excellence.

Vineeth SubramanianPGP (class 2013-15), IIM Trichy

Disagree

"Indians are more comfortable with unequal power distribution"

Vineeth

Vineeth SubramanianPGP (class 2013-15), IIM Trichy


If your office has a strict "no smoking within premises" policy, would you smoke in your cubicle? Would you calmly take an afternoon nap at work? Whenever your manager allocates you tasks that you don't necessarily like, do you slap your manager to communicate your feelings? If your answer is "No" to all three, then you are only demonstrating typical workplace discipline.

In order to draw some broad conclusions about workplace discipline in India, particularly in comparison to the west, I would use Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions study about the behaviour of people across cultures. Drawn from Hofstede's study of IBM employees of different nationalities, the study reveals, among other things, that Indians endorse high 'power distance' in their workplace as compared to the world average. Power distance is the extent to which less powerful members of an organisation accept unequal distribution of power. In other words, as per the widely accepted study, Indians are more comfortable with unequal power distribution.

It is no wonder that Indians display high workplace discipline. It's the acceptance of power gap and the subsequent tendency to stay within organisational guidelines, which manifest in the form of workplace discipline. So what would be the secret to ensure good workplace discipline? Simple, just make jobs "worth the discipline" for the employees.

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