How does India differ in work culture from other countries?

Posted on 16th Aug 2016 | 1012 views

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Work culture is a consequence in an organization formed by a set of values and beliefs, carried forward from long time and has substantial impact in the behavior, quality, and quantity of work done by the employee in an organization. A decade ago, the corporate culture in India had a vast difference as compared to rest of the world, especially western countries. But, now there is a paradigm shift due to enormous growth of MNC's in IT sector India, BPO's etc. The advent of globalization made business enterprises and employees to work across the borders of various countries, thus providing exposure to cross cultural working environment to both the organizations and employees. This eliminated the huge gap between the work culture of India and other countries to some extent. However, in fields other than IT and Government sectors of India the work culture differs a lot from that of other countries.


'In India, it is an accepted habit to work for 10 hours; in the US, it is an exception to the rule,' In all the Western countries, especially USA, people strictly adhere to the time. They work in the office for eight hours a day. They generally complete their assigned work with in the deadlines; in absence of which they keep it informed ahead of time to their boss. They attend the meetings sharply in scheduled timings and the meeting agenda is given at least a week before in most of the cases. They take lunch break for half an hour. Employees try to be more productive and they work with full commitment, without any other deviations during the eight hours they work. They work for only five-day week, never work on weekends. On the contrary, in India, people do not adhere to the timings. No doubt, they work for long hours approximately for 10-12hrs a day and sometimes even on weekends, but take long tea breaks and lunch breaks. They are not very imperative on deadlines and keep negotiating for extension of timeline. Some times scheduled meetings are canceled, due to absence of some key persons. However, the number of hours put on does not matter; it is only the output and accomplishment of work that matters in all types of work cultures.

The Gift of Balance in Your Life : May you find the balance of life, time for work but also time for play. Too much of one thing ends up creating stress, that is not needed in life

One more major difference is the work-life balance. In Western work-culture, they give more value to the time spent for their personal life. They do not carry the workplace pressures or stress to home. Eventually work is a part of their life, but not the life itself. Nevertheless, they stay back at office occasionally, when they need to work. Most of the Indians think workplace as an opportunity to build their future and put forth extensive efforts to climb the corporate ladder and earn monetary benefits. They work day and night beyond limits, which results in losing work-life balance .This also makes them encounter a lot of pressure ,as the demands at work place and family are almost opposite. There may be a greater sense of ownership of work in Indians and they value work more than that of personal life. This depicts two extreme ends of work culture. Job opportunities differ from one company to other.

In a rapidly changing corporate world, bosses had to evolve and boss-subordinate equations have changed. Delegation of powers and decision-making has become critical. Good work environment, respect for private space has become critical to keep smart employees engaged and motivate

The relationship between the boss and subordinates is believed to be more formal and hierarchical in India. People in power openly display their ranks according to which importance is given. Employees are not supposed to expect clear guidance from the managers and they are often not assigned with important work. Subordinates are expected to take the blame for things that go wrong. The relationship between boss and subordinate is rarely close/personal. In general company meetings only few people dominate, even though their decisions are wrong. However, it may vary from company to company. Whereas in western work culture the relation between boss and subordinate is not more formal and hierarchical, superiors treat subordinates with respect and do not demonstrate ranks. Subordinates are entrusted with important assignments. Blame for things that go wrong is either shared or is often accepted by the superior, due to it being their responsibility to manage. Managers often socialize with subordinates. Meetings are interactive sessions to arrive at best decisions.

A succession strategy will inevitably be a mix of buying and building talent. So, companies that identify, build, retain, and optimally deploy strong talent will have a distinct leadership advantage

The succession planning and talent management issues were not given more importance. These two issues are given utmost importance in India now, a little later than other countries. Most of the top companies are giving enough time for these two activities. Due to scarce talent to manage key roles in India, there is high demand for good talent and more importance is given to retain knowledge workers and engage them. India is now more inclined on HR culture. Where as, in western work culture succession planning and talent management were given top priority by most of the companies, a decade ago. Due to economic crisis in USA, the HR culture may be drastically affected.

Today, most research points to the fact that Employees are the biggest asset of any organization. It is also understood that employees also need the right attention in the policies and processes

In USA, flexibility in deployment of employee related policies (healthcare), policies strictly would work by processes and norms, and further stretching of policies is not entertained. It is clearly defined what your employer would pay for and what he will not. On the contrary, in Indian companies flexibility and compassion find a place in such instances. This is because in India relationships are built upon mutual trust and respect.

We can create the ultimate job security by becoming less dependent on the organization for which we work and more dependent on our own resources

In Japan, job security offered by the organizations. Therefore, employees do not switch companies.They stay in the organization for long period and work with high level of commitment. In India , job security is offered in government sector, but here employees do not work with commitment. Where as, in USA job security is not offered. Therefore, people often switch over jobs.

Appraisals are where you get together with your team leader and agree what an outstanding member of the team you are, how much your contribution has been valued, what massive potential you have and you are recognized

In mentoring, Indian managers are a bit soft in critical assessments. Seniors tend to lean more on positive feedback during an appraisal, leaving the criticism unsaid. In India either due to the appraisal process or due to the lack of skill of the appraiser, the much-needed critical assessment is often held back. In the US, there is a better balance in practice.

Change brings opportunity

In Indian work-culture, people do not accept change easily; lot of resistance is encountered in order to implement change. In western work-culture, people are adaptive and conductive to change implementation. Work culture is important for the growth of a company, in turn the growth of a country depends on the companies. There exist many differences, pros, and cons in work culture of any country. We have to pick and adapt the best practices of work culture around the globe and implement them in our organizations.

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