According to the 2024 Global Culture Report by O.C. Tanner, about 53% of the surveyed employees revealed that they are expected to persevere through challenges without expressing complaints. This expectation is associated with a 125% increase in the likelihood of experiencing burnout. The study encompassed 42,000 participants, including employees, leaders, HR practitioners, and executives from 27 different countries.
The report also highlighted that 30% of the surveyed employees perceive their leaders as being 'nimbly resilient,' which is driven by key leadership principles - adaptability, proactivity, and perseverance. This perception increases their own belief in their 'nimble resilience' by at least 9x. Further, this shift in mindset results in a 582% increase in engagement, a 233% increase in feeling a strong sense of fulfilment in work, and a 79% reduction in work-related burnout.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, O.C. Tanner Company’s MD for MEA & South Asia, Zubin Zack and EVP International, Ty Brown, discussed key components of a thriving workplace and perspectives for India’s evolving landscape.
Here are the edited excerpts:
Q. What factors contribute to the growing significance of India as a market for international businesses, and how does this align with the report’s insights? Can you provide examples of organizations that have successfully adapted their marketing strategies to cater to the Indian market and fostered workplace cultures that resonate with Indian employees?
Zubin: In the next five years, India is projected to have over 500 million individuals, all under the age of 29. This demographic makes India an incredibly attractive destination due to its substantial growth rate and population. In terms of businesses, this growth has a significant impact across all sectors. It's noteworthy that many Indian-based companies, including 30 out of the top 100 Fortune Best Places to Work, have their second-largest employee populations in India, after the US. If we look at various verticals, the growth potential is evident. For instance, India’s infrastructure is expanding rapidly, leading to a projected sevenfold increase in air travel. In the telecommunications sector, India is already among the largest markets. In banking, India is poised for substantial growth.
Whether it is multinational corporations, local businesses, or B2B or B2C ventures, growth opportunities are abundant. There’s a growing aspiration among Indian businesses to adopt best practices. Recognition, in particular, is an underleveraged leadership tool. The returns on investment for recognition are remarkably high, with the cost being a small fraction of payroll, typically less than 1%. When we compare the amount spent on employees by Indian companies, as well as those in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, to Western countries like the US and UK, there's a significant disparity. Indian businesses are rapidly increasing their spending to align with global best practices.
For example, if an Indian company currently spends an average of US $50 per employee annually, we can expect that to increase to an average of US $250 to US $350, with some companies even reaching US $1000. This growth is substantial and is a result of our commitment to adopting best practices. Even without any other changes, the growth potential among organisations associated with us is set to increase five to six times in the coming years.
When we combine this potential with the increased investment in recognition and align it with the company's values, it creates a tremendous growth opportunity for OC Tanner in the marketplace. The ease of doing business in India, the democratic environment, and the rising interest in these practices are all contributing factors.
Ty: The reason we established a presence in India over a decade ago is due to the remarkable surge in work undertaken by multinational firms here and the significant impact of Indian firms in the global marketplace. During the early 2000s, what was particularly noteworthy was India's significant focus on education and the presence of highly skilled individuals, not only within the local context but also on a global level. India had transitioned into a knowledge-based economy, and its influence on the rest of the world was growing exponentially. With our multinational consumer base in India expanding rapidly, and the increasing influence of large Indian firms on a global scale, it was a clear decision for us to establish a local presence in India. We've also noticed that many multinational firms are following suit, recognizing the talent pool that India offers and expanding their presence here. India's attributes, such as being a relatively easy-to-work-in democracy and having an educated workforce with global influence, make it an attractive destination. India has a significant presence, and we believe it will continue to excel in the next 20 years.
Q. As we look ahead, how do you anticipate the marketing landscape in India evolving in the coming years, and what implications does this have for O.C. Tanner’s work in these regions? What advice or recommendations would you offer to global businesses looking to establish or expand their presence in India?
Ty: India continues to experience growth from a business perspective. The Indian government is introducing new initiatives to attract global organizations to participate in its manufacturing sector, which has been traditionally dominated by Southeast Asia. India's unique journey has taken it from agriculture to a knowledge-based economy, with a strong emphasis on technical and professional roles. Now, as the manufacturing sector expands, it will be fascinating to see how it develops. The pandemic has prompted multinational firms to diversify their supply chains, reducing their dependence on any single country. This situation offers India and Southeast Asia an opportunity to play a pivotal role in creating diversified supply chains and economies. I would strongly advise that if multinational firms are not already operating in this region, they may be missing a significant opportunity.
Zubin: We’ve observed a notable tension in the current global landscape, which creates a complex and dynamic business environment. In this context, we've introduced the concept of ‘Alt-Asia’ or an alternative to China, representing the idea of an emerging powerhouse in the region. This alternative Asia spans from India to Indonesia, encompassing countries such as Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and more. This region is experiencing a surge in population, increased capital flow, the presence of strong financial centers, stable political environments, and a growing network of shipping and free trade agreements. Alt-Asia is poised to become a formidable player in the global business arena. It combines the talents, energy, and potential of countries from India to Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and Indonesia, offering a wealth of opportunities for businesses and access to capital. This alternative Asia is characterized by a strong and stable political environment. The concept of Alt-Asia represents a rising force that is set to reshape the global business landscape.
Q. Can you share key takeaways from the Global Culture Report that are particularly important for India’s evolving landscape?
Zubin: The key takeaway from the report is the emphasis on the critical 80 per cent, the essential workers. It emphasizes the need for meaningful flexibility for these essential workers. Flexibility for them may not involve remote work or working from home a few days a week, as it does for other employees. Instead, it centers on employers demonstrating empathy and understanding. This flexibility involves accommodating their unique needs, such as caring for a sick child or parent. The report underscores the importance of addressing the needs of this critical workforce and ensuring that their working conditions and requirements are taken into consideration and respected. It is a vital aspect of creating a thriving work culture that values and supports all employees, rather than focusing solely on a specific segment.
Ty: The trends observed in today's business landscape, including empathy, corporate skilling, upskilling, and resilience, are integral components of the evolving market. They align with the desires and requirements of the younger population and have become established practices over the past few years. The pandemic has underscored the significance of resilience, a concept that resonates with a broad audience.