Article: The future of work in India

Employee Engagement

The future of work in India

India's unique demographic landscape necessitates proactive strategies to cultivate a thriving and inclusive workforce.
The future of work in India

The world of work is undergoing a profound transformation. Changes are occurring in when we work, how we work, where we work, the tools we use, and who is working. As populations age, demographic shifts mean people will work longer, resulting in multiple generations coexisting in the workforce simultaneously, even more so than today. These shifts will likely create transformative opportunities and impacts for individuals, organisations, and society, much of which is still beyond our imagination.

This evolution raises several important questions about skills, health and well-being, and individual preferences. How can we maintain worker wellbeing as the nature of work changes fundamentally? How can we ensure that the benefits are shared equally and that the future of work is sustainable? What measures can we implement now to ensure individuals thrive and remain productive throughout their careers, providing organisations with the confidence to grow?

A global study highlights that employee health and employer flexibility are crucial for harnessing a future age-diverse workforce. The study, "Evolving Together: Flourishing in the Age-Diverse Workforce," identified several "accelerating factors" that organisations must consider to ensure both people and organisations can thrive in the future workplace. Key drivers include flexibility in when, where, and how much we work, along with government incentives and support for physical and mental health and well-being. Additionally, reward and remuneration, coupled with policy levers around tax and financial arrangements, play a critical role in supporting individuals to remain productive and engaged well into later life.

A focus on India

India is experiencing a demographic shift distinct from other countries. Its population is both growing and predominantly younger rather than ageing. India's population, now outstripping that of China, has risen by more than 1 billion people since 1950. Of this soaring population, 40% is estimated to be under 25, and over 65s make up just 7% - a figure not expected to exceed 20% until 2063. The birth rate remains far higher than in European countries, although it is gradually falling. 

A key challenge for India is migration. In 2020, India replaced China as the main country of origin of new migrants to OECD countries and has continued to hold that position. However, workplace participation remains stubbornly low. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) found that India’s workforce has fallen from around 445 million to 435 million in the past six years, meaning only 40% are working or seeking work.

Given that India’s population is the youngest among all major markets, it is instructive that health and wellbeing are important for workers of all ages. A flourishing workforce will be one that can maintain physical health and psychological well-being. For employers and governments, this may include proactive efforts to support workers in managing their health or investing in services used by the wider population. Some of these aspects are explored in the Government of India’s recommendations for the future of work.

It is promising to see that in the post-Covid era, both employers and employees in India have redirected their attention towards physical and mental wellness. If successful, this could bring significant benefits for the future workforce. India is unique among the countries surveyed (including China, Japan, and the UK) in prioritising public education and awareness campaigns to break down stereotypes and encourage workplace participation among older generations. This highlights the importance of communicating the benefits of an age-diverse workforce even before it becomes a reality in the country.

The opportunity for organisations and governments to prioritise their people by supporting improved physical health and psychological well-being is unmistakable. Equally important is the desire for greater flexibility, allowing work to fit into our lives rather than the other way around. This presents an exciting prospect: a chance to collaborate across society and shape a future of work that meets everyone's needs, regardless of age or stage in life.

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Life @ Work, #Wellbeing, #Future of Work

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