Why do the majority of young Indian IT workers want to work abroad instead of staying in India? The answer’s simple. It’s because of Indian work culture. As a recent Indian tech graduate myself, I know it’s not just for the sake of adventure, or a desire to see the world, like Australians doing a ‘walkabout’. We’re choosing to leave because Indian work culture isn’t appealing to us, and we know we have options. If Indian companies want us to stay, they will need to start addressing things like work pressure, ‘Bossism’, working hours and wages.
The answer’s simple. It’s because of Indian work culture. As a recent Indian tech graduate myself, I know it’s not just for the sake of adventure, or a desire to see the world, like Australians doing a ‘walkabout’. We’re choosing to leave because Indian work culture isn’t appealing to us, and we know we have options.
Work pressure: Unpaid overtime can be extremely demoralising, particularly over sustained periods of time. Yet this is so common in India, it’s become the norm. Stress can cause or exacerbate existing mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, and mental health has a huge impact on people, communities, business and the economy. Alongside the ethical considerations of creating a supportive and productive work environment, there’s a strong business case to be made for addressing work pressure. In India, however, it seems to always be about deadlines and deliverables. So, when we hear from friends working abroad via social media talking about things like work/life balance, it sounds very appealing.
Bossism: Most IT Managers in India seem to lack basic people management skills. Things like managing their employee’s aspirations, goals, ambitions and expectations. Most lack even basic technical skills as well. Some even seem to have zero technical skills. While I agree this isn’t mandatory, and lacking technical skills doesn’t mean you can’t be a good manager, it still seems very odd. Also, the Indian workplace is highly biased. We all know stories where the average local guy who happens to come from the same district or state as the manager gets promoted at the expense of an outsider. This is demoralising, as it means there’s no point working hard if your face doesn’t fit. Worst of all? Employees having to beg to get their earned leave.
Also, the Indian workplace is highly biased. We all know stories where the average local guy who happens to come from the same district or state as the manager gets promoted at the expense of an outsider. This is demoralising, as it means there’s no point working hard if your face doesn’t fit. Worst of all? Employees having to beg to get their earned leave.
Working hours: Working conditions and salaries in India are different from the ones in western countries. The official working week in India runs from Monday to Saturday, from 10am to 6pm daily. In reality, overtime is the norm and it’s rare for local companies to compensate their workers. Some companies even tell their employees to just work until work finishes, with no regard for actual working hours.
Wages: If we look at software developers’ salaries, the average salary ranges from around ₹ 2,84,605 (GB£2,750 or US$3,880) to ₹ 9,00,000 (GB£8,680 or US$12,270) per year, depending on experience. The salary earned by IT workers is barely enough to survive on. If they also work in expensive cities, they need to borrow money to survive, and can’t save. It’s no wonder we’re looking at our options.
Working culture – the difference between Indian and western countries
The importance of time: In western countries, time seems to be considered the most important factor at work. The normal work shift is for 8 hours a day. Traditional working hours in the US are Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm. Outside of Covid, employees are very particular about the time they come to and leave the office. Working overtime or until late at night is rare and only when necessary, not the norm. In western countries, people treat work as work and nothing more than that. They come on time, leave on time and get back to their personal lives. In India, we generally arrive to work late, have to sneak into our offices and work until late at night to make up the time. Most of us think of work as our first priority, whereas it should be given the same importance as our personal life.
Relationships between colleagues: In western countries, everyone maintains professional relationships at work, even if they are family members or very close friends. In the office and while at work, they keep conversations strictly professional, and only talk in a casual way later, when they are away from the organisation’s premises. In India, we don’t have this level of professionalism, it seems to always be about doing favours for each other.
The office environment: Offices in the west consider workplace health one of the most important things. Health and safety is taken seriously, as is maintaining a positive environment and paying attention to mental health. These are also seen as factors that are linked to increasing productivity. Workplaces often conduct psychological assessments and carry out group development activities. On a positive note, in this area India now seems to be catching up.
As the workplace becomes increasingly globalised, our options are increasing. We want to build fulfilling careers in India and be close to our families, but until the work culture changes, it’s just not an attractive option. If they want to keep us, Indian companies need to raise their game!