In an organisation where mostly young people work and when someone comes late and the supervisor says that our friend will entertain us and then ask him to dance or sing as punishment. Is this type of punishment justified? However, the supervisor asks that in funny way but wants to reinforce a disciplinary action in the name of fun. But still is it justified to do so? I see this happening at my workplace. Some take it as fun but if someone is sensitive may get offended. Don't you think verbal or written warning or deduction of salary is more appropriate?
From India, Ahmadabad
Dear friend,

Before getting into the details of your query, let us discuss, why punishments are given? Punishments are aimed at two days, one is to reform the defaulting person and another is to create deterrence among the mind of others. Essence of this punishment lies more in this deterrence than the execution itself. This is because it helps others in keeping their behaviour on track. Punishments send a signal to one and all "over here what is accepted and what is not".

Now the question is will this "song and dance" punishment will create fear amongst others?

You have asked one important question "Don't you think verbal or written warning or deduction of salary is more appropriate?" Now the times have changed. The society is opened up and it is considered important to give realisation to the defaulting employee the implications of misconduct. Now how far it will work and how far it does not remains to be seen.

The another aspect of this this type of punishment is that it may go counter-productive because it may develop shamelessness amongst few and they may take it for granted the "song and dance" sequence after committing some default or misconduct. There is one more challenge that punishment of this kind. It may end up as entertainment to others. Trend of this kind is far more pernicious. Those who come in time, they may feel let down and may consider that their reporting on time is not valued so much.

Coming to traditional methods of handling indiscipline. Yes these are very important but traditional punishments like written warning or deduction of salary also do not work beyond a point. Cases are replete wherein a delinquent employee was never reformed even after giving punishments. He/she remained delinquent, series of punishments notwithstanding.

However, when it comes to choice, I still prefer traditional method. One cannot compromise with the discipline come what may. Discipline is the foundation of any organisation and one must strive to keep this foundation intact.

What I suggest is to maintain records of late-coming as well as "song and dance" punishment. See how far it is working. Are the minds of the defaulting employees getting reformed? If not, then show it to supervisor the statistics and resort to the traditional method.

As a suggestion, I can suggest not giving any job to the employee who comes late. Let that person just sit down at security desk or at some isolated place whole day. Of course, wasting a man-day is not easy in these days of lean workforce planning. But then we have to have some solution.

Indiscipline and punctuality finally bogs down to organisation's culture. Is it the case that you do not get proper candidates in the recruitment and you end up in selecting wrong candidates? Persons who are serious about their career will not commit this mistake quite often. So in the end what matters is seriousness with which employee see their job or career. For the serious persons, a nod of disapproval is more than sufficient.

Dinesh V Divekar

From India, Bangalore
I am highly appreciating the view of Mr esh V Divekar, the method in which it has been explored is amazing, my view is also same as of Mr Divekar, apart from the above submission i personally suggest for traditional method to implement discipline for late coming. At the first instance an oral gentle warning may be passed to the concern. And if that guy is habitual of late coming, then serious action may be taken against him. And it is true that sometimes the method of "Dance and Sing" will heart to the emotional person and cause mental agony to him and it will cause big problem to the management.
R B Yadav

From India, Mumbai
Wow such an interesting thing to do, if i were the supervisor, and if any girl or girls will come late i will make them remove shoes / chappals and then throw glass on ground breaking it and tell NACH BASANTI NACH,,,, it would be a nice thing to do. .....


My dear this is an office not a kings harem where the supervisor thinks he is a king and can make peasants dance and sing for entertainment.

Best thing is you please issue written warning to supervisor. Because when there are young people working and such atmosphere is prevailing the following things can happen:

Many young girls boys get attracted and form couples due to this sing and dance thing, but this is not harmful to organisation as other cases.

If the supervisor is male / female and makes any male / female sing or dance it can be taken as offense or sexual harassment case also.

Not all people working in companies are extroverts or open to singing or dancing, due to some or other reason they came late and supervisor is making them sing or dance means it can be viewed as violation of human rights also.

Based on seriousness of complaint and public outrage the supervisor could get badly beaten by staff, and handed over to police if these singing and dancing are viewed as sexual advances.

Hence to avoid such sensitive issues, it is better a professionalism is maintained in office. and the already avaialable best practices can be followed.

Now coming to the point of Mr.Dinesh wherein he has encouraged to go in and identify new methods apart from traditional methods, this surely is innovation but if you are going for innovative methods not necessary that it will always give good results and success, if it backfires you should be ready to handle backfires also.

Also methods like detention etc have to be very carefully studied by psychologists and expert scientists to study the mental effect of detention. The only thing which i remember about detention is punishment to remain out of class in school, high school and heard that its a common thing in schools abroad to give detention to student after school hours (i,e if school timings are 07 am to 01 pm ) the student as punishment would be asked to sit in one room for one hour which would make him restless, and guilty because people in schooling age group like till 18 years are so active that detention is really a punishment for them.

But for people working in companies of age group 22-30 this would be jackpot if as punishment i am not given any work, i would just call up friends talk with them, or just sleep as i am so tired nowadays or just browse FB on my mobile, etc and enjoy the free paid day. Also there is one issue that if i spend the whole day idle the job would be piled on my desk the next day which also calls for attention of company, hence before starting any punishment prepare a detailed documentation and form a committee to see its pros and cons.

From India, Madras
In case of late attendance, no employer or supervisor can punish without giving proper opportunity or written notice. Therefore, such kind of punishment is absolutely illegal in eye of law.
From India, Rajkot
Dear friends,
In the circumstances explained,we couldn't assess what type of work culture prevails in their estt. We can't generalize things and offer a general opinion. There are diff. ways. In IT industry actually there is no time barrier strictly. If they are given a project there is no time restrictions. They work round the clock, at office, in the cab, at home etc. In such situations it is not possible to enforce strictly. On the other hand if 'come in at stroke of 9 and leave at 6 PM' situation, there must be time machine, and if the policy provides for infrastructure automatic salary cut is implemented. Even in other cases the time office should take care of late arrivals. And if there is a policy 'habitual late comer' will have to be dealt accordingly. In the referred case it appears it is more for fun than as a punishment. Such punishment is commonly inflicted on all it may not hurt anyone.

From India, Bangalore
Hai friends,
the punishment of any indiscipline should attract the principle of natural justice without that any casual punishment is not justifiable. In the nature of punishment personal ego should be taken into account. In the standing orders there is mentioning of the misconducts and major and minor punishments. Any person or organisation should follow the same otherwise those will attract the legal eye. Hence any new method should have the approval or consent of top management.

From India, Visakhapatnam
I have seen such small fun methods used in training programmes/seminars to prevent participants from stretching breaks. It works there.
But using it as a procedure at office may work both to your advantage and disadvantage - people who are uncomfortable with such things may even take it as harassment and you will have a bigger problem to handle.
What is important is to get people understand the value of time and punctuality - how being late often would become a 'remark' and may even affect their career growth, etc.
If it is an occasional thing, it is best to ignore it as you will also want employees to stretch once in a while during critical projects/peak periods, etc.

From India, Bangalore

First and foremost as is already said by seniors - Discipline is discipline. We cannot bend rules for anybody. It is our responsibility to see to it that we reach office on time.

Sure there are always late comers (some genuine, some regular and ready with new "genuine" excuses each day) But we need to ask where to draw a line...

There are different ways to tackle late comers. Coming to the way your supervisor tackling problem -

He must have thought that this kind of punishment would perhaps embarass the late comers (especially the frequent late comers who may have to entertain everyday) and finally one day they may come on time. Perhaps he wanted to make the point clear in both stricter and subtler manner.

However prolonged use of this method would give wrong indications to the staff that if at all they're late, no one would bother to punish them and that they can get away with it by just singing a song or performing a dance for their colleagues which wouldn't bother them. Rather than deterring them from coming late, this might end up allowing them to come late.

Sure traditional method work the best. But honestly, the most important thing of all is the realization. If one realizes his/her mistake he/she would be in a position to rectify it. If I don't realize that I'm coming in late, how would I ever come on time? You may deduct salary, you may eventually sack me, there would be someone else who'd employ me and I'd be as usual going late there as well. The cycle would continue. How do I break my this habit of late coming?

In my current organization, there were people who walked in leisurely at their own times. I was a newly appointed HR and didn't know how to react. I firstly observed for a month as to who were the regular late comers. What excuses they gave etc.

I drafted a policy with strict office hours and only 15 min grace/allowance in-time. If someone walks in later by even 1 min after the grace period, we would allow that for 3 times after which half day salary would be deducted.

This was trying to handle the situation using tradition approach. My observation - result unchanged. Salary deduction as well didn't motivate them to come on time. By the time I also observed that people walking in late would first go their cubicles to check their mails and do the follow up and would come to me to sign the muster leisurely by noon or so.

Next month onwards, whenever i saw a later comer going inside and sit. I would wait for 15 min so that they can come and sign and if they didn't I would walk up to their department and stand at the gate and call our loudly and ask them to sign. This ensured that everyone, including their supervisor and colleagues noticed who all walked in late. This was done approx for 2-3 weeks and now people come on time. Rarely people are late, which we as human should allow.

Hope it helped you somewhere :)

From India, Mumbai
Iím appalled by this tread of mail, and flabbergasted at the methods being suggested. We HR are here to remind others in the organisation that we are dealing with Human beings and not animals.
From India, Bangalore

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