What’s unique about the Indian workforce?

India is a distinctive and diverse country owing to the presence of people from widely different cultures. Which is why, the Indian workforce is unique too. There are a lot of factors that make our employees stand out in the global market. As an employer, if you are established in India or plan to hire people from the country, knowing the culture and attitudes of this diverse group of people and respecting their skills, values, and ideologies are essential.

Studies say that one of the most distinctive features of the Indian workforce is how young it is! About 42% of the workforce, as a percentage of the entire population, is between the ages of 18 and 24.

By 2030, most of the countries will have a slightly older (middle-aged) workforce, but India will still enjoy a young workforce, thanks to the fact that most teenagers and young adults will be ready to join organizations by that time.

The Global State of Managers survey conducted by Kronos suggests that there may be a wider gap between employees and their managers in India than we assumed. The survey states that 95% of Indian employees feel they can do a job better than their managers. This survey further states that millennials and Gen-Z workforces are extremely confident of their skills.

The younger workforce, in general, considers recognition and appreciation to be more critical than financial gains. This means, organizations need to make efforts towards creating employee recognition programs that are exceptional and value-adding in nature.

What does India’s business culture look like?

Many Indian businesses have gone global and a lot of international brands have forayed into the Indian market. As a result, it is necessary now, more than ever, to understand India’s business culture.

In the beginning, like most other developing countries, the only thing that mattered to an organization was productivity levels. Thankfully now, things have changed for the better. While many organizations still have a traditional hierarchical business culture and do well with it, it is common to see younger startups and SMEs enjoying a clan-based, ad-hoc, and purpose-driven culture at the workplace.

Diversity is something India has always been proud of. Diversity also makes it slightly challenging to handle employees coming from various parts of the country with individual beliefs and thought processes. Employee recognition programs and reward ideas that may work for one group of employees may not be preferred by another group. As a result, you may have to tweak and customize your strategies to retain a majority of your high-performers.

What attracts and keeps employees motivated in India?

Competitive pay is definitely one of the main attractions of any workplace. Apart from that, surveys show that recognition plays a very important role in keeping employees in India motivated.

Recognition is the act of acknowledging and endorsing an employee’s skills, abilities, behaviors, and efforts. Across the world, recognition seems to be a critical motivator.

According to international surveys, 53% of employees would consider staying back in the same company if they are recognized better. Though this is a global survey, this would match the mindsets of the Indian workforce too.

Here is a list of factors that can attract and keep employees motivated in India. These pointers are from leading HRs in India, who are directly engaging with Indian employees every day.

  1. Help employees to feel content and satisfied through small recognition gestures regularly.
  2. Open up channels of communication and help employees to reach out to the management quickly and with confidence.
  3. Create an effective employee reward system. Awards and rewards urge employees to work more effectively.
  4. Ensure that employees have the best tools to work with. This automatically improves employee productivity and morale.
  5. Provide abundant learning and developmental opportunities.
  6. Conduct employee welfare activities and reach out at personal levels instead of just focusing on workplace behavior and skills.
  7. Tweak employee recognition programs and structure them based on what employees want and prefer.
  8. Make workplace events and functions interesting and engaging. This brings out the best in employees and improves employee engagement levels.
  9. Create expansive and well-defined benefits for employees. The more detailed and thoughtful these are, the better employees will feel about working there.
  10. Customizing rewards is a great way to improve employee motivation. You could gift a book to an avid reader and movie tickets to a movie buff. This means getting to know your employees at a closer level, which is also an added advantage.

Are you looking to reenergize your rewards and recognition program? Check out PossibleWorks’ latest blog here to know how to achieve this.

How is recognition unique in India?

In a country like India, where informal employment is still massive, a part of the employment pool still faces unfair treatments, challenging work environments, and an extremely hierarchal work setup. Another part, especially the younger workforce, has changed mindsets and expects to be treated well, given independence, and respected at the workplace.

Hence, an employer needs to work with both kinds of employees and need to change the workplace for the better. Employee recognition programs need to be designed to make everyone satisfied and happy.

According to research conducted by the Journal of HRM, mindsets of Indian employees have changed over the years. They now consider fair rewards and recognition, equal work opportunities, and constructive feedback very important to stay in an organization.

A 2021 survey conducted by Forbes also talks about relationships being a significant factor for employees in India. About 48% of Indian employees leave organizations because of bad relationships with managers. This can also change if the managers start appreciating and recognizing efforts more.

Here are a few reasons why recognition is unique in India.

  1. Indian employees log in more time at work than employees from other countries. Surveys show that Indian employees work for at least 10 hours a day. As a result, employers need to go out of their way to make employees feel like their efforts are worth it.
  2. It is common for a workplace in the country to be divided based on the language spoken, the employees’ place, and other local issues . Employee recognition programs must be designed to break through such differentiation and build a sense of oneness.

How to make your recognition program work in India

Making your employee recognition programs work can take a lot of assessment and planning. Not all programs work for all organizations. PossibleWorks starts by doing ground research on your current R&R program, its pros and cons, and identifies gap areas that we can work on. Our solutions and tools are tailor-made for you, ensuring they match your needs perfectly.

Check out two of PossibleWorks’ successful implementation of R&R programs below.

Client 1: Kohler

Case Introduction: PossibleWorks  engaged with Kohler  for their Rewards and Recognition program, making strategic changes to make the program bang-on and effective.

PossibleWorks Solution

  • We created a social platform where employees can share ideas mutually and get socially recognized for the same
  • We helped the team work on recognition programs that encouraged employees to participate and engage.
  • Our team created an environment of crowdsourcing ideas and collaboration of the right resources.
  • We introduced leader boards, badges, and rewards to encourage employees to mentor and act as change agents and role models.

Highlights: The program was integrated with the existing HRMS solution and was rolled out for 8000+ employees across the organization at the same time. Our single unified platform was available in French, English, Mandarin, and Thai languages.

Client 2: SREI Infrastructure Finance

Case Introduction: We had a chance to bring changes to the existing Rewards and Recognition practices of SREI.

PossibleWorks Solution:

  • Introduced an environment of peer-to-peer recognition.
  • The rewards and recognition framework was automated.
  • Employees were given the freedom of choosing the rewards of their choice.
  • Opened up honest communication by creating an in-built survey and polls module.

Highlights: SREI was certified a great place to work, for the first time ever! There was a significant improvement in the employee engagement score post-implementation of our strategies.


If you are an employer who works with the Indian workforce, then understanding cultural and attitudinal differences is essential. India is a diverse country, but it offers amazing opportunities for employers in terms of skilled and exceptionally talented labor, low cost of operations, and a favorable political climate.

So, revamp your employee recognition programs to match the varied cultures of the people you hire, making these programs effective and worthwhile.

Are you using the right technology for your Recognition programs?

Checkout our Buyer’s Guide to Employee Recognition software Or Book a Demo

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