MNCs enjoy higher level of employee engagement in India than back home


By Vishnu Makhijani

New Delhi– Multinationals enjoy a much higher level of employee engagement in India as against what they do on their home turf and this has sent out a powerful message about the commitment and loyalty of the Indian workforce, Prof. Veronica Hope Hailey, Vice President, The University of Bath and the Dean of its School of Management, has said.

“Recently, we were funded by a US foundation to do research in India comparing levels of employee engagement in multinationals here to the levels of engagement in the home countries of those multinationals. In the study we found out that multinationals enjoy a much higher level of employee engagement in India as compared to what they did back on their home turf.

“This is what businesses around the world now understand about India, that the Indian workforce is highly engaged, highly committed and very loyal to their work,” Hailey told IANS in an email interview.

She’s been researching organisational change for over 30 years, and her research elaborates the extent to which one can lead the change in employees.

Noting that since the financial crisis of 2008, she has written six reports on trustworthy leadership and organisational change, she said the West has “a lot to learn” from the Asian styles of leadership formation and culture.

“One of the stark things in the Western style of leadership is that they understand it’s not simply about the competence and capabilities, predictability and reliability of the organisation or leader to deliver good business results; if you want the customers, employees, local communities and government to trust you, you have to demonstrate two other elements,” she said.

Thus, the first area is concern for others, an understanding that business serves many stakeholders and not just the shareholders. This means growing young leaders who know they have an obligation to give back to the society. The second area is the integrity or moral code of the leader as well as the organisation, as people are getting concerned about the moral code and ethics of businesses.

“I’ve seen an increasing number of fresh graduates who are inclined to work for organisations with a sense of ethics and integrity. My research deeply illustrates how businesses can prevent workforce and communities from losing trust in them. If one recalls the founding of the greatest multinational organisations of today’s age, be it Tata or Unilever; all of them were instituted on robust foundation of ethics and integrity. They should be the source of learning for modern-day business conglomerates,” Hailey explained.

Her six research projects involved working with 25 different organisations — all giant firms in Europe with their bases spread across the planet and, further down the line, and she is looking to replicate this study in India with respect to Indian businesses.

What about existing research tie-ups between the university and Indian institutions?

“Our University is particularly interested in research activities and shared programmes. We currently have research links with the Indian School of Management & Entrepreneurship (ISME) and the Indian School of Design & Innovation (ISDI).

“Also, one of my colleagues has been working with the Central Bank in India for the last 5-6 years developing an impact case study. I myself have done research on employee engagement with a noted Indian multinational. We have also met with 10 CEOs or senior managers from organisations based in either multinationals or nationals such as GKN, Tata, Yes Bank and Novartis,” the professor said.

Being a huge supporter of cross-border idea exchanges, the University of Bath is continuously looking for more research collaborations with Indian universities and businesses “which share our philosophy of high-quality practice and research”, she added..

Given this openness of engagement, it’s not surprising that the University of Bath is home to a flourishing Indian community of over 250 Indians currently engaged in full-time degree studies.

“A majority of Indians tend to value hard skills and swift employment. Therefore, they enroll more for our engineering and management degrees. Our MBA and MSc in Marketing are very popular courses among Indian students. Pharmacy and Pharmacology are other popular subjects. Over the last few years, we have seen a surge in applications for subjects like HR & Consultancy, Finance & Accounting, Supply Chain & Logistics, etc,” Hailey said.

“Another important programme of utmost relevance to the Indian context is our MSc in Entrepreneurship. We all know this country is growing incredibly, and an expanding young population needs people to start new businesses. To avoid unemployment and to stop the best people from going overseas, India needs to create a mammoth generation of excellent entrepreneurs. If India is going to get that ‘Make in India’ lion to roar, which I’m sure it will, we together are going to have to educate a whole new generation of entrepreneurs; we’d better be ready and equipped for it,” she explained. (IANS)


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