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I want you to take a holiday

Updated: May 8

Many years ago, the punctual and regular staff of the Octroi department of Pune (India) went on strike.

Octroi is an import duty imposed on all goods entering a city or town. The city corporation depended heavily on Octroi collections to meet their budgets, so the city appointed new staff to temporarily manage the Octroi posts and collect the tax. (Almost all Octroi was paid in cash.)

Surprisingly, for the week the Octroi staff were on strike, the daily revenues jumped up by 300%. This incident brought to light the massive corruption in the department. That staff allowed vehicles to pass through, by accepting lower or no octroi duty for a considerable bribe became apparent.

Corruption becomes pervasive in every organisation and society if the organisation and systems are weak or non-existent. Effective management involves the establishment of a robust management system that inhibits corruption whilst facilitating efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Some other examples.

  1. There were those days long before universal banking when we paid our employees in cash. An audit revealed that 15% of the employees on the payroll were non-existent and the payroll staff were pocketing the money.

  2. A cashier was cooking up fake bills and vouchers to record non-existent expenditures.

  3. An accountant with the help of a store clerk and a security guard was in warding documents for fictitious supplies of goods and routing payment to themselves.

These were some problems we faced at the beginning of my leadership career. At that time the relationship between us employers and the employees was adversarial.

With the passage of time and maturity, we established credibility and trust between ourselves.

Our relationship got transformed from being one of confrontational to a collaborative partnership.

Employees considered the organisation as their own and they were active stakeholders and beneficiaries of organisational success. This partnership gave birth to a self-monitoring, self-regulating highly dynamic workforce. In such a work environment it became difficult for laggards, dishonest and non-performers to survive in the organisation. This is of course the best solution, but not everyone is so fortunate.

Here are some solutions.

  • Prevention is better than cure.

  • Minimise cash transactions.

  • When someone is appointed and remains at a specific position continuously for a very long time then there is something that management needs to investigate. Employ job rotation practices.

  • Beware of individuals who never go on leave, take holidays or miss a day of work. Watch out for the super-diligent employee who never leaves his or her post. What may appear as commitment and diligence may be a perfect setup for theft and pilferage. Ensure that people avail their permitted leaves and periodically go on holiday. This has the benefit of proving to both the organisation and the individual, that the individual is not indispensable and that the organisation will continue to function even without them.

  • Conduct regular internal audits.

  1. Everyone should go on an annual holiday. This serves several purposes.

  2. Employees and bosses both realise that no one is indispensable.

  3. The organisation develops solutions to cope with the absence of that team member.

  4. If there is any fraud taking place, it will most likely come to light

If leaders fail to install a good and robust management system, they are more likely to get defrauded and will have only themselves to blame. They might even end up having to go on permanent leave.



We have to be aware of an anomaly. Some people never take time off from work for a very different reason. These people lack a meaningful family or social life. Their workplace and colleagues are their world. They prefer to work long hours and take refuge at their workplace.


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