How to Improve Employee Engagement in India

There is a lot of research – most of it from the West, on what keeps employee engagement high. While there is truth to all that research of understanding an employee’s intrinsic motivation – their values, personal vision aspirations etc., but let’s try to understand what is it that keeps people really happy, loyal, committed, and engaged in the Indian context.

A common problem is that organisations spend a lot of money to retain their employees and incur huge losses in losing them. However, they are still baffled on what it is that really works.

Below listed suggestions are an attempt at a win-win situation for all, by trying to bridge the gap between a company and its Indian employees in particular.

  1. Having a loyalty carrot policy

The history of our nation is of being a country where few resources are shared by a large population. Even though we are now receiving abundant opportunities, monetarily and learning wise, somewhere we hold onto the notion that we need to keep working hard to achieve this and at times without taking stock of fact, like where we are at or how far we have come. The Indian gen y and gen x did have to struggle for the luxuries of life, so to speak. A great amount of influence from the West on the never ending lust for material things that money can buy, further instils the need to own more and more. All this coupled with our very rich family values of wanting to provide for all close family members, including parents and siblings.

Indian’s think differently from the west, thus companies need to offer incentives such as a substantial loyalty bonus – a car, a lavish international vacation or the down payment on an apartment on completing a sizable duration of time (e.g. 3 years) with them. This works in fulfilling the really dominant extrinsic motivators amongst Indians.

  1. Good food and lots of it

Due to our age-old civilisation being invaded by different rulers, the culture is diverse and cuisines never ending. Add to this fact, exposure to the world and frequent travels that this cross-section of the population now has access to and we have an additional influx of adoption and interest in global cuisine. Basically we like to call ourselves foodies – a term you will hear only in India and not in the West. Food is important in all cultures, however, it’s not as intense as it’s in ours. The fanaticism for food is deep-rooted.

Believe it or not, companies that give importance to feeding their employees well and have good food options, provide employees a big reason to stay on and continue working there. Basis the size of a company, one may consider sizeable cafeterias (with experts or food committee) to small kitchenette in open office set-ups, having variety of snacks, tea, coffee, etc.

  1. Flexibility

Challenges like traffic, weather, and transport are issues that Indian employees deal with constantly. Giving them the flexibility to manoeuvre their work lives around these challenges, really relaxes them and frees up space for them to operate at their best in the job. Companies that are cognizant of this, acknowledge it, and create policies in support of it, tend to have employees who will think twice before leaving the workplace even in difficult and trying times. Flexible policies on work from home, vacation schedules, goals, and on-site facilities like gyms, ironing, grooming are some factors that make their lives less stressful.

The team at Actuate Business Consulting, a knowledge based management consulting firm in India, believes, that while the intrinsic factors of motivation are important, taking care of the above extrinsic factors will go a long way in retaining employees, especially in the Indian context.

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