Employee engagement: How much has changed in India, in the past five years?

While India continues to score better than other countries in terms of employee engagement, Indian workers are still not fully engaged.

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Engagement at work is highest among employees in India than in other countries reveals a survey. ADP Research Institute’s recent global survey revealed that between 2015 and 2018, India reflected a five per cent increase (the maximum in the world) in the number of employees who were fully engaged. In its study, ADP covered 19,346 full-time as well as part-time employees across 19 countries.

The lowest scorer was China, whose employee engagement reflected a fall of 13 per cent, bringing it to a low of six per cent.

While the survey shows that multinational companies report better employee-engagement rates in India, than in their home countries, most Indian employees still appear to be far from being fully engaged.

According to the survey, employees who are part of a team are more likely to be fully engaged than those who work on their own. This is probably because employees working in teams are aware of the significance of clarity of goals and objectives, and know how important it is to communicate openly. They also believe in powerful leadership, outlining the responsibilities and making everyone’s role clear. In India, there are maximum number of employees working in teams.

However, despite scoring better than other countries in terms of employee engagement, most Indian workers remain far from fully engaged.

Only 22 per cent of the workers surveyed seemed to be fully engaged. That means, over three fourths of Indian employees are merely present at work and not giving their best.

This isn’t really surprising because:

• Increasing stress is adversely affecting employee morale
• Workplace stress is resulting in a fall in productivity
• Only a fourth of Indian business leaders give priority to employee engagement
• There is a lack of effective training to ensure employee engagement

The situation was no different back in 2014, when Dale Carnegie Training conducted a study in collaboration with NHRDN, which showed similar findings — that Indian employees were more engaged than their global counterparts. At that time too, India had more number of fully engaged employees in its workforce (46 per cent) as compared to the global average (34 per cent). In the US, only about 30 per cent of the workforce was reported to be fully engaged in 2014.

Five years back, it was concluded that the factors that influenced employee engagement levels were the following:

• The kind of rapport or connection the employees had with their immediate supervisors
• The level of trust and faith the employees had in the senior leaders of the organisation
• The feeling of belongingness and pride at being part of the organisation
• The education level of the employees

According to the 2014 study, in India, employees’ average level of education was much higher than their counterparts in the US. No wonder India scored better.

The Dale Carnegie Training survey had reported that a significant number of employees (61 per cent of those surveyed) were ready to put in extra hours of work without additional remuneration. Employee engagement levels were the highest in the healthcare sector, and lowest in government and education sectors. Larger organisations, with over a lakh employees had more number of actively engaged employees, whereas companies with about 100 to 500 staff members had less actively engaged staff.

The majority of those who had completed 15 or more years of service in the same company, were highly engaged, which is but natural, otherwise they wouldn’t have stayed on for so long. Again, a majority (71 per cent) of those whose yearly income was more than a crore, were highly engaged.

Of those who earned between 1.5 and 3 lakhs, about 15 per cent were highly disengaged. But 30 per cent of the engaged employees were willing to stay on with their present employers even if they were given half the increment offered by a competing organisation. More than half (58 per cent) were proud to be part of their present workplace.

Despite these encouraging figures, even back in 2014, 54 per cent of the workforce in our country was not really happy its jobs.

Clearly, things have not changed much over the years. We may have more swanky and automated offices, but some facts still remain the same.

In India, about 50 per cent of the workforce is working for family-owned businesses. These businesses follow a patriarchal structure, where merit often plays little role.

In the private and government organisations, the hierarchy is rather rigid. Compliance to practices is expected and innovation hardly gets a chance. Therefore, employees brimming with creativity and innovative ideas feel stifled and end up disengaged. Productivity falls and absenteeism increases, ultimately leading to a dip in profits and customer satisfaction.
Apparently, billions of dollars are lost every year across the globe, merely because employees are not fully engaged.

While organisations are waking up to the importance of employee engagement, there is still a long way to go before India tops the list of countries with a 100 per cent ‘fully engaged’ workforce.

Organisations need to simply ensure that work is allocated with some thought to the suitability; employees are chasing realistic deadlines; enough flexibility is allowed to the employees to enjoy work-life balance; the mental and physical well-being of the employee is given priority; and the workforce enjoys an environment and culture of positivity.

In a country where there is no dearth of talent, these are just some of the factors that organisations can consider to ensure employee engagement, and manage to attract and retain the best talent.

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