The year 2012 is being categorized by many as the year of missed opportunities. While the heady days of high economic growth rate are becoming a distant memory, there is no recession to blame either. Amidst all the talk about ‘fundamentals are strong’, due to a variety of reasons, we are in the midst of high inflation and lower growth – not the best setting for our annual study of best workplaces.
Lower industrial growth and confidence means that organizations continue to be cautious in any increase in cost and this has impacted employee spends negatively. Has it impacted employee sentiment negatively or do employees temper their expectations according to the macro environment? Our 2012 Study has answers to this and more questions.
What is different about this Study?
The Great Place to Work® framework is based on over 27 years of research of the best workplaces across the globe from employees’ point of view. A great place to work has a simple definition. If you trust the people you work for, take pride in what you do, and enjoy the company of people you work with, you are in a Great Place to Work®.
Key trends in the 2012 Study
Overall employee perception of their workplace culture has not changed significantly from 2011! This is true for all companies, for Top 50, and the Top 25 best workplaces in our Study. Thus, while individual companies may have done well or poorly in building trust with their employees, the workplace culture in India Inc., as perceived by their people, remains the same as in 2011.
Only 2 out of the Top 25 Best Workplaces are companies which are new to the list of Best Workplaces, the rest having featured in the list in previous years. However, similar consistency is not seen in the Top 50 list in which there are 14 companies which have never featured in our List in India before.
Positive perceptions about their workplace culture continues to be high for senior management category compared to supervisory staff, with 7% less supervisory staff giving positive feedback about their workplace culture.
The Study reveals that 75 percent of employees are below 35 years of age. While they are the majority in most organizations, their views about the workplace culture are significantly less positive than employees over 45 years in age. Only 20 percent of employees, on an average, have worked in the same organization for more than 5 years, and there is a slow but gradual improvement in employee perception as one stays longer in an organization.
20 percent of the respondents in our survey across all organizations were women, broadly indicating the percentage of women in the organized workforce. While there is no significant difference in the response of men and women to the survey statement, “I am treated fairly regardless of my sex,” women have lower scores around impartiality, opportunities for special recognition, fair pay and share of profits and opportunities for career growth. This indicates that while gender bias may not be felt by women, there could be a case for looking at roles women play within the organization and whether they get stereotyped for some roles, leading to perceived lower opportunities.
Significantly, lower employee size does not necessarily mean higher employee perceptions. In fact, organizations with less than 250 employees have significantly lower scores than very large organizations, particularly in terms of employee perceptions about being offered special and unique benefits, training and development, timely information or fair share of profits. Employees in smaller organizations also get lesser opportunities to contribute to society. However, as is to be expected, more employees in smaller organizations feel that their senior management is approachable and easy to talk with.
Some things, however, have no correlation with size. Fair evaluation of performance is one and ability to attract talent is another. Though very large organizations (more than 10,000 employees) do seem to have some advantage in attracting talent, for all others, performance in these two areas do not correlate with the size of the organization.
Key trends in the Best Workplaces
As in the previous years, the Top 50 Best Workplaces are concentrated in Mumbai, Delhi NCR and Bangalore, but also have representation from Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. Participation from organizations beyond the major metros will be a key challenge for the Study in coming years.
35 of the Top 50 have more than 1,000 employees, with 14 out of 50 having more than 5,000 employees. Only 7 of the Top 50 Best Workplaces saw employee strength increase by more than 30 percent as compared to previous year, and 6 actually reduced its workforce.
The percentage of women continued to be low with only 5 of the Top 50 employing more than 40 percent women employees. Seven of the top 50 have less than 10 percent of their employees who are women. Only 3 of the Top 50 have more than 30 percent of their senior management as women.
While 15 out of Top 50 best workplaces have employee attrition of over 20 percent, however, in all major industries, attrition for the Top 50, on an average, is less by one-third to two-third of the industry average.
Overall, one of the biggest improvements in workplace culture shown by the best workplaces over the years has been in the area of work-life balance, flexibility in being able to take time off when required, and creatively designing and implementing practices and policies which are perceived as special and unique benefits by employees.
One of the most difficult areas where the best employers have fared much better than others in the past is in fair pay and fair share of profits. However, scores have dipped for the Top 50 Best Workplaces in these two areas in our current study indicating that the managements of best workplaces will not take populist decisions on pay and profit sharing when there is overall uncertainty about the economy.
This year’s Study points to a growing degree of maturity in organizations. In spite of the slowdown in the economy and pessimism amongst corporate India about the government’s ability to turn around the economy, reactions from both – management and employees are very different from the panic reactions of the economic recession of 2008-09. While the best employers are conservative and are watching costs carefully, employees are not overly disturbed about not getting salary increases in high double digits.
Is this the new normal?
Prasenjit Bhattacharya is CEO, Great Place to Work® Institute, India. This article has previously been published in The Economic Times. For more information on India’s Best Companies to Work For - 2013 Study, write to firstname.lastname@example.org