Work culture in India is distinctive and differs from the culture abroad in many ways, some differences being major and some very minor. In the finals set of the two blog series we introspect the work culture in India and abroad; thus hoping to help the MBA students who are finding it tough to decide whether to take up a job in India or relocate abroad! So here it goes…
The gender divide is still strong in India:
Gender issues differ from environment to environment. Even though there is a trend towards open-mindedness and equality, the working environment in India has been witness to discrimination against women. This discrimination if not physical and obvious, is often mental and subtle. Due to the male dominated system, it is still difficult for men to accept orders from women and this can be cause for stress at the workplace.
The workplace is not always neutral territory in India where men feel threatened by women superiors. To make her presence felt and to move up, a woman has to be gutsy and firm.
Although discrimination exists abroad also, the redressal measures are much more effective and quicker. Also abroad people are more open to the idea that discrimination exists. Here there is a tendency to shrug it off, especially if it is mental. It is easier for women to correct an uncomfortable situation abroad. The office structures are now showing changes in terms of making provisions.
Another aspect that the work culture in India is gradually incorporating is the informal attitude in the workplace.
Earlier the workplace was a separate compartment, with its own set of codes and rules.
This compartmentalisation made it a bit rigid. Now the culture is opening up, with the concept of dressing down, flexible working hours and self-formulated working strategies and goals taking precedence as compared to a culture where senior level employees were involved in goal formation and the relatively junior employees in implementation.
This has been seen as a positive change brought about by the emergence of global companies, which have bought in with them a more relaxed and laid-back style of
working. This culture is relatively new in India and involves much more freedom as
compared to the past. Abroad, the office atmosphere has mostly been more laid-back and less structured. Dress codes and behavioral codes were not very important and employees had more freedom. Out-of the box thinking though not synonymous with attitudes is also more associated with a culture that is more tolerant. The Indian work culture involves achieving goals, which the supervisors and superiors have set, and also incorporating these into the personal goal agenda. Abroad there is more freedom to set your own targets and goals and decide the best way of achieving them. Constant
supervision is not a part of the agenda.
An interesting feature is also the after-work culture. Named aptly the ‘work hard, party harder syndrome’, this is directly associated with the yuppie culture.
This is relatively new in India and more established abroad. It is a direct import of the corporate culture. Owing to a hectic and continuous commitments and constant targets and goals, office hours are very stressful for most people. Thus people mostly tend to take the complete weekend off from work and enjoy and relax. The same rule goes for long vacations, where workplace related issues are not generally kept in mind. In India, there is more of a tendency to carry work home, to carry it along on vacations. Even
though the young Indian is definitely taking time off and enjoying, people tend to be constantly on call. People tend to put their life on hold for work and with gadgets such as cell phones and laptops, which ensure 24/7 connectivity anywhere anytime, this, has become a very common syndrome.
India by nature is a relaxed country and so are the people. Decision making here is generally a slow process and Indians dislike being hurried up too much. The bureaucracy has also encouraged this impression. People tend to take their time in making their decisions. This is a result of years of work culture where fast and instant decision-making was not given much relevance. Abroad, since a lot of companies have pro-active policies and susceptible to market forces, decision-making and quick decision-making at
that is considered to be very important for sustained success..
Entrepreneurs are a relatively new phenomenon in India and the same can be said of venture capital funds. The tendency to take risks is limited in India, and most people prefer to play it safe. This reflects in the overall work culture and it is not easy to incorporate innovations. People have an in-built resistance to innovations at times. Till now, entrepreneurs and businessmen were also not encouraged by the system. Abroad the work culture is relatively more encouraging of innovations and risks. People try and
convert their ideas into successful business ventures.
To sum up, one might say work culture is a very distinctive feature and differs from place to place. It is a sum of different factors including the employee attitudes, local customs and company policy. Other differences may also arise in terms of communication, innovation, leadership etc and quite often are specific to the place of work and the company. To truly experience the culture one has to actually work in a specific work environment. India as now a global hub and is providing growing work opportunities. It is a country with a rich cultural heritage and increasingly globally competitive standards. The challenge now is to develop a work culture, which would meet global challenges and incorporate competitive standards while retaining its
traditions and customs.