Work Study Objectives, Role, Advantages, Need

Table of Contents:-

  • Evolution of Work Study
  • Contributors to Work Study
  • Objectives of Work Study
  • What is Work Study
  • Define Work Study
  • Need For Work Study
  • Different Aspects of Work Study
  • Advantages of Work Study
  • Role of Work Study
  • Work Study – A tool to increase productivity
  • Steps to increase productivity through work study

Evolution of Work Study

The origin of work study dates back to the existence of human beings. The fundamental objective of humans is to accomplish work more efficiently or quickly, which forms the core concept of work study.

The Industrial Revolution began as early as the 18th century, particularly in the British Cotton Textile Industry. Many machines were invented and improved during this time. Sir Richard Arkwright (1732-1792) was one of the most outstanding engineers of this period, displaying excellent managerial qualities and likely being the first to realize the value of training workers to eliminate time wastage and maintain systematic work habits.

In 1760, J. R. Perronet, a Frenchman, made efforts in systematic overall time study on the manufacturing of pins, arriving at a standard production rate. His contemporary, Matthew Boulton, who started a factory at Soho in 1762, encouraged mechanical inventions that were superior in variety and simplicity. Notably, he had highly trained and skilled artisans who were more accurate than others in the hardware trade of the English Midlands at that time. Within four years (1963-1967), his turnover increased from $3,000 to $30,000.

A Britisher who contributed to this field was Robert Owen (1771-1858), considered a precursor of method study and the first person to consider rest allowances for compensating fatigue in jobs, emphasizing the human element of labour.

Charles Babbage (1792-1891), who devoted most of his time to developing a calculating machine, was not an engineer or practical industrialist but played a leading role in the movement of scientific inquiry.

Although the initiation of work study could be attributed to Europe, modern ideas on work study were developed by American engineers.

Contributors to Work Study

Allen H. Mogensen, in his work “Common Sense Applied to Motion and Time Study” (1932), emphasized the significance of work simplification.

Lowry, Maynard, and Stegemerten made noteworthy contributions to time and motion study, as evident in their publication “Time and Motion Study and Formula for Wage Incentives” (1930).

Maynard and Stegemerten further contributed to the field with their work “Operation Analysis” (1939). In 1911, Charles E. Bedaux conducted experiments that laid the groundwork for measuring all human physical work, paving the way for work measurement.

Henry L. Gantt (1861-1919) introduced the widely used Gantt Chart in work-study.

Other notable contributors include F. A. Halsey, James Rowan, Emerson, Hayney, and Priestman, among others.

The evolution of work study led to the emergence of ergonomics, thanks to the efforts of C. T. Gould and Dr. Franklin V. Taylor.

Ralph M. Barnes, in “Motion and Time Study” (1949), also made significant contributions to the field.

Objectives of Work Study

Although work study was initially developed to enhance productivity and efficiency in production, its applicability extends across various domains. Industrialists and educators recognize its significance, applying it in diverse fields such as transport offices, sales and distribution, and numerous service organizations. Work study proves valuable for method improvement in any area, showcasing its versatility and excellence.

The fundamental objectives of work study include:

(a) Improving working processes.

(b) Standardizing procedures.

(c) Effectively utilizing resources such as men, materials, machines, money, and time.

(d) Ensuring efficient and swift material handling.

(e) Making informed decisions on fair day wages.

(f) Facilitating informed decision making on workforce requirements.

(g) Cultivating a better organisational culture and environment through ergonomic studies.

(h) Providing effective system control.

(i) Simplifying operational methods.

(j) Economizing movements through motion economy.

(k) Enhancing productivity by eliminating unnecessary work elements.

(l) Designing a practical layout for the workplace to minimize movements.

What is Work Study

Work study involves a systematic investigation to optimise available resources, including men, machines, materials, money, and time. The overall concept of work study revolves around addressing two fundamental questions:

(a) How should a job be done?

(b) How much time should a job take for completion?

The first question is addressed through method study, while the second is tackled through time study and work measurement. Although method study and time study are closely interconnected, they are often classified separately for ease of understanding within the work study framework, as shown in the image.

Time study, with its extension, is referred to as work measurement. Time study is a work measurement technique used to record the times and rates of working for the elements of a specified job conducted under specific conditions. The data obtained are then analyzed to achieve a defined level of performance.

Method study involves a systematic and scientific assessment of existing and proposed plans, as well as the performance of work.

Define Work Study

According to the British Standard Institution (BSI), work study is defined as follows: “Work study is a generic term for those techniques, particularly method study and work measurement, which are used in all contexts and systematically lead to the investigation of all factors affecting the efficiency and economy of the situation being reviewed.”

In simpler terms, it is a term that encompasses the techniques of method study and work measurement employed to ensure the best possible utilization of human and material resources in carrying out a specific task. Another definition of work study is “the systematic, objective, critical, and imaginative examination of all factors governing the operational efficiency of any specified activity to effect improvement.”

Need For Work Study

Recently, various concepts such as Value Engineering, Waste Elimination, Kaizen, Zero Defects, etc., have been developed for improvement. However, work study has retained its identity and plays a significant role in continuous improvement plans due to its specific characteristics and features. Its strong foundation, supportive experimentation, and immediate results make it an evergreen process. Moreover, it brings together people at all levels, including owners, managers, supervisors, and workers, by integrating various resources like time, machine, material, men, and method.

Work study is a versatile tool capable of interlinking resources such as time and method, men and machine, man and material, etc. Industrialists and engineers have recognized the effectiveness of work study and the ease it brings. Simultaneously, they acknowledge the need to improve productivity in the competitive world with growing demand.

To meet this demand, there are two options: to increase production volume or capacity by enhancing machinery, equipment, labour, or materials. However, this method is costly, cumbersome, and involves decision making at multiple stages, making it more suitable for capital-intensive industries. The second option, increasing productivity and capacity by eliminating waste, applies to all sectors and situations, as it is easy and less expensive.

Therefore, managers prefer to conduct work studies on their jobs. With globalization demanding standardization and liberalization to foster a competitive spirit, the present world recognizes the need for work study in every elemental movement of their work or task.

Different Aspects of Work Study

Different Aspects of Work Study are as follows:

Economic Aspects: These encompass cost reduction, increased production, and monetary measures related to various products.

Technical Aspects: This category includes process improvements, method refinement, elimination of waste elements or movements, technology upgrades, standardization, product compactness, equipment renovation, new product development, and more.

Human Aspects: Human aspects include ease of operation, comfort for producers, customers, or users, and safety considerations for human beings, machinery, and the environment.

Advantages of Work Study

Advantages of Work Study are As follows:

1. Cost Reduction

The study reduces manufacturing costs by eliminating unnecessary work, jobs, or motion movements.

2. Productivity Improvement

It enhances production efficiency, consequently increasing productivity.

3. Profitability

It raises profitability without increasing the sales price of the product. For instance, a product manufactured at Rs. 100 and sold at Rs. 120 yields a profit of Rs. 20, which is 20%. Implementing the work study and reducing the manufacturing cost to Rs. 80, selling at Rs. 100, results in a profit of Rs. 20, equivalent to 25%. Selling at Rs. 120 further increases profitability to approximately 50%. This approach is preferable to raising the sales price to Rs. 150, ensuring accessibility to a broader customer base.

4. Standardization

Work study standardizes work, providing employees with job security and customers with reliability and interchangeability. Worker performance targets become a safeguard for job security, and customers benefit from receiving a standard product.

5. Easier Work

Even if cost reduction or increased production isn’t achieved, the purpose of work study is fulfilled by making the job easier. This automatically boosts productivity by reducing employee fatigue.

6. Fair Day Wage

Work is timed, and based on this, a target is set, ensuring operators receive a “fair day wage,” as per Taylor’s approach. This regulates employees, provides employers with effective control, and fosters a fair relationship.

7. Better Working Conditions

Work study contributes to good working conditions, creating an environment where workers enjoy working. It also promotes cleanliness and tidiness in the workplace, cultivating a positive working culture.

8. Deterministic Production Schedules

Work study validates the practicability of jobs, ensuring precision in production. This allows producers to satisfy customers by accurately meeting delivery schedules as planned.

Role of Work Study

The productivity of a system is a function of production involving all individual subsystems, and display relies on the characteristics of output and input. Increased output produces more, but it may not necessarily signify high productivity. The enhancement of productivity occurs through one of the following means:

(a) Increasing output while keeping input constant.

(b) Achieving the same output or result by reducing input (eliminating waste).

(c) Raising output while concurrently reducing input or resources (eliminating waste).

Work study guides on achieving the above to enhance productivity, as its fundamental objectives include:

(a) Increasing output.

(b) Accelerating work processes.

(c) Facilitating more accessible work, making workers more efficient.

(d) Eliminating waste elements in motion and time.

Thus, work study plays a crucial role in achieving high productivity.

Work Study – A tool to increase productivity

Among all the techniques available to management to counteract the reasons for low productivity, work study takes the forefront because:

(a) It directly enhances the productivity of any organization with minimal investment.

(b) It is the most accurate technique for setting performance standards.

(c) It can be successfully applied anywhere.

(d) It reduces the inefficiency of any organization.

(e) It does not overlook any factor affecting productivity.

Benefits to all categories in the organization are as follows:

(a) Profits for the management by increasing productivity.

(b) Providing the concept of a fair day’s work to the worker, reducing overload fatigue, and enabling the worker to work efficiently and scientifically.

(c) Offering reliable and consistent standards of performance and related data.

(d) Ensuring consumers always get quality goods at low prices.

Steps to increase productivity through work study

Work study involves improving processes through research and development, providing enhanced physical means to motivate workers, thereby automatically increasing production and productivity. The strategic aims or objectives typically adopted for plan improvement through work study include:

(a) Standardization of the product and process.

(b) Improve operational methods and enhance workforce efficiency at all levels.

(c) Strategic planning and effective utilization of capital and resources.

(d) Effective planning and implementation.

(e) Updating plans and creating short-term goals to improve output from long-term goals.

Now, the steps to improve productivity through work study are as follows:

(a) Understand the type of production, whether it is intermittent, continuous, or project type.

(b) Understand the industry’s quality policy and other pre-set norms.

(c) Calculate partial and total productivity indices for the existing production level.

(d) Identify areas where productivity is very low.

(e) Check whether conducting work study from economic, human, and technical aspects is worthwhile.

(f) Narrate all available facts regarding the job/process.

(g) Analyze the process to determine whether any other method can save or ease work movements.

(h) Choose the best method that reduces risk, saves movements, and eases the worker to perform the job and standardize it.

(i) Split the job into small activities called elements to analyze and identify any waste of time.

(j) Eliminate waste elements through time study and sufficient experimentation in all combinations.

(k) Analyze the working conditions.

(l) Improve the working conditions ergonomically.

(m) Standardize the time by defining each task, its method, and its times.

(n) Re-calculate the productivity indices and compare the results.

(o) Install, implement, and maintain.


Work is worship. Work study is to know the method of prayer. Of course, most of the jobs have already been studied, yet there is enormous scope for employing work study in industrial careers to improve the industry’s productivity. Particularly in India, many industries need to address the importance of work study.

However, some sectors have realised more is required. The reason may be that the industrialists could not fully understand the advantages of work study or were unaware of the methodology and how it is to be conducted. Globalisation and liberalisation are posing challenges to Indian industries and are even sometimes questioning their survival. In such cases, it is high time to recall the concept of work study to redefine their tasks. The companies started realising the reality and looking forward to improving their productivity through various methods such as value engineering waste elimination. Zero defects and just-in-time concepts. But, it should be remembered that work study should be the mother of all these concepts to give a thought to their generation. Even if you thoroughly know, understand, and learn any idea, It goes well if you put it into practice. The work study is not an exception.


A broad picture of the work study, composed of method and time study, is explained in this unit. Time study, called work measurement, is the systematic way of measuring the time required to perform a correct and technological sequence that reduces the number of motions. Hence, the cost, which makes the operation more accessible, is evaluated through the method study. The method study is further divided into motion study and micro-motion study, which go into more incredible details of the motions of work elements and eliminate the waste and unnecessary features.

The contributions of F. W. Taylor, Scientific Management and Time Study F. Gilbreth, Method Study and Motion and Micro-Motron Studies, and others in this regard are explained. The history of the development of the work study has also been found someplace in this unit. The production, productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, etc., are briefed out, and an effort is made to create the ideas of improving productivity with the help of work-study.

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