Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Gantt - Handling Labor for Efficiency Improvement - Going

The bonus plan worked out by H. L. Gantt, 1 an associ-
ate of Mr. Taylor, has rather more elasticity and has
found highly successful application. Like Taylor, Gantt
begins with standardization of conditions and accurate time
study. That is, he makes it possible for the man to work
fast, and decides as nearly as possible just how fast the man

!"Task and Bonus," by H. L. Gantt; Trans. Am. Soc. M. K, 1901.
For a much fuller argument see " Work, Wages and Profits," by H. L.
Gantt ; The Engineering Magazine.

should work. The initial engagement of the workman,
however, is on a day-pay basis. The workman is sure of
regular day wages as a minimum. 1 Under the Taylor piece
rate, or any piece rate, the minimum as well as the maximum
depends on the number of pieces made. If a man is unlucky
and does not finish even one piece he gets nothing. Under
the Gantt system he gets day wages however little he may
produce. The computations for extra or bonus payment
thereafter are on the basis of time. To use Mr. Gantt's
own words:

" Under this system each man has his work assigned to
him in the form of a task to be done, by a prescribed method,
with definite appliances, and to be completed within a cer-
tain time. The task is based on a detailed investigation by
a trained expert of the best method of doing the work; and
the task setter, or his assistant, acts as an instructor to
teach the workmen to do the work in the manner and time
specified. If the work is done within the time allowed by
the expert, and is up to the standard for quality, the
workman receives extra compensation (usually 20 to 50
per cent of the time allowed) in addition to his day's pay.
If it is not done in the time set, or is not up to the standard
for quality, the workman receives his day's pay only.

"The system is thus in effect a combination of the day-
rate and piece-work systems. While learning to do his
task the workman is on a day rate ; when he has learned to
do it the compensation for the task is a fixed quantity, really
equivalent to piece rate. The method of payment, then,
is day rate for the unskilled and piece work for the skilled."

The Gantt system produces the true piece-rate result that
a workman receives full pay at the bonus rate for all the

1 This seems much like the " piece rate with guaranteed day wages,"
referred to in a preceding note. One difference is that if the "task" is
changed, it is a change of time and not an immediate change of price,
and the effect on the men is much more favorable.

time he saves. He does not divide the time saved with the
shop as he does under the premium plan.

Gantt, like Halsey, puts no limitations that is, no
arbitrary, or, as we might say, official limitation on the
amount a man may earn. He does not set any maximum,
as Rowan does, on the theory that a workman should not
be permitted to make more than a certain scale of wages.
But Gantt does in substance set a natural limit to maximum
earnings by putting the task limit so high that even the most
skillful and energetic man could not greatly exceed it. He
does this deliberately, because in the first place, when con-
ditions are scientifically adjusted to eliminate the ordinary
chances and mischances of haphazard working, and when
operations are scientifically laid out and the time it takes to
do them is scientifically studied, and when men are carefully
instructed in performing the operations in the manner thus
scientifically studied out, the performances of normally
capable individuals ought not to and will not vary very
widely from the determined standard.

For instance, if 100 men of average physique, taken at
random, were required to run 100 yards in their ordinary
clothing and under ordinary conditions of preparation and
amid ordinary surroundings of street travel, the results
would probably vary by many hundred per cent, because not
only of the varying fitness of the men, but of the varying
obstacles and delays they would meet. But if you should
take the same hundred men, train them for six months, put
them on a standard running track, in regular running cos-
tume, you would probably find that most of them would do
the hundred yards in times varying not more than 50 per
cent and probably not more than 20 per cent. This is the
kind of standardizing Gantt's preparatory measures are
designed to accomplish.

And in the second place, it is part of Gantt's theory that
no large reserve capacity (that is, capacity of surpassing

standard task) should be left to the workman, for fear
that if he does very greatly better the prescribed perform-
ance, and so very greatly increase his earnings, the employer
will be tempted to cut wages and so will destroy the whole
scheme. This danger is avoided if the bonus task is set so
high that no workman unless he is a living phenomenon can
better it by at the utmost 50 per cent.

Like the differential piece rate, the Gantt bonus system
is characterized by a sort of critical point at which the wages
received by the worker rise suddenly on arrival at a certain
volume of production. The effect of the Gantt bonus as
a stimulus to the workman is something like that of offering
a big, shining prize to every man who jumps up a high step.
The prize seeker either lands or he fails. There is no half
success possible. The total result of such a tournament,
if there are entries enough, would be the collection of an
athletic body of high jumpers on the upper step, while the
field would be left below.

Applying the same simile to the Halsey premium plan,
we might say that it offers the workers on the lower level
an inclined plane up which to climb, with prizes for every
one who climbs at all, infinitesimally graduated in direct
proportion to the distance climbed. The natural result of
such a tournament is a graded classification of moderate
athletes, whose performances range all the way from the
record holder to the tail ender. And there is also a natural
tendency for the crowd to thin out toward the upper levels,
because as a man climbs each step becomes harder, and yet
the premium for the last step is no greater than the premium
for the first.

The illustration just used is not intended to suggest the
slightest disparagement of either the theory or practice of
the task and bonus system. Under Gantt's direction of it,
the most careful, thoughtful, and skillful instruction and
assistance toward accomplishing the task is given to the

operative. To the utmost possible degree, all obstacles to
achievement are removed. Those who can not succeed at
one task* are given every opportunity to try some other for
which perhaps they may be better fitted. Those who do
succeed are unquestionably greatly benefited, both phys-
ically and financially. Nevertheless, for any given work the
system is largely selective, discovering the fully fit (who are
generally a minority) and shifting the unfit (who are gen-
erally a majority) to other occupations. 

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