India has witnessed drastic changes in manufacturing and service sectors since last few years. It was an outcome of globalization, government reforms, high-end technology and huge potential as market place. The increasing number of youths in India is an opportunity to reap the fruits for their motherland unlike before. The campaigns like ‘Digital India’, ‘Make-In India’ and ‘Start-Up India’ have attracted the foreign investors. On the other hand, existing businesses have great expectations too. As the nature of business is changing day-by-day, meeting the needs of customers has become a serious concern. Hence, choosing right candidates for right jobs coined with international competitiveness is the priority of human resource departments in most of the companies in India. Hence, they have been experimenting new, innovating practice which makes them unique.
HR Practices and Cultural Differences in India:
India is multi-linguistic, multi-religious, multi-cultural country. One can observe ‘Unity in diversity’ there. India has rich heritage of festivals, customs and traditions. The values, ethics, attitudes and thinking patterns are associated with culture. However, ‘diverse workforce’ is a challenge to the firms. Around 20% companies in India are incapable to achieve HR goals (Ernst & Young, 2015). Human resource department has to design policies keeping their cultural difference in mind. Practices in the areas like performance appraisal, recruitment & selection, staff induction, career management, health and safety affect on the workforce. It would be interesting to study few of them.
Recruitment & Selection Practices:
As aforementioned, diverse workforce may be a challenge to the companies in India. However, it should not exist if innovative practices are incorporated at workplace. On the other hand, it could work as opportunity to human resource department. Psychometric tests will enable the recruiters to identify the potential and likelihood of individuals to bridge the gap. Family background, level of education, family system, age factors, beliefs, and values can be linked with job requirements. For example, marriage system in India is unique. As a result, referral system is working effectively for talent pool. Again, if couple is working in the same firms, they should not be hired for same department. It would create competitive work environment (Muduli, 2012).
The local young talent is familiar with the current market trends and customer needs. A cultural difference is a platform to foster the culture of creativity and innovation at workplace. It generates new ideas and works best to achieve common organization goals. Once likelihood is created, synergy takes place in the team. Problem-solving is easier. Collective responsibilities are fruitful exercises. Conflicts are minimized to the great extent.
Talent management in terms of leadership excellence is sometimes difficult. This is because leaders are directly involved in the decision-making process. They are policy-makers for the organization whereas the team members are policy-followers. Hence, human resource professional should be conscious on hiring such leaders who can influence the team with great people acceptance. The leaders who are familiar with the cultures, customs of respective country can work better for the team. For example, leave management. If the team has Hindu, Muslim and Christian members; the leaves could be given based on their respective festivals like ‘Diwali’, ‘Id’ and ‘Christmas’ respectively. Overlapping, mismanagement can be avoided.
Sometimes, geographical conditions play vital role in the success of any business. Regional languages matter in the growth and market share. To give an example, north Indians choose ‘Hindi’ and south Indians ‘English’ as their preferred language after mother-tongue. Hence, regional language speakers are given preference along with English and Hindi languages based on their key roles, responsibilities and nature of job.
The recruitment and selection practices may be different based sectors, company culture and philosophy and nature of business activities. Service sector has the largest share in India as compared to manufacturing and others. The giant leader like Tata Group is proactively involved in Automobile, steel manufacturing, FMCG, telecommunication, IT and so on. The company is known for its best culture and employee-centric activities. It may not be the same case for other companies. In short, every organization should understand the socio-economical and cultural differences while recruiting and selecting potential candidates. The closest match will ensure long-term relationship with the employer in terms of commitment (Searlea, 2011).
Hilton Worldwide is a giant leader in the hospitality industry. The company has emphasized on ‘women leadership’. It will increase women professionals from 14% to 20% in 2017. It has 13 women leaders in India and hoping to increase the number too. ‘Five days a week and flexible working hours’ will ensure work-life balance for women to manage their careers. Internal job postings are integral part of career management. Specially, the sectors like IT/ITES providing free or affordable transport enabled many professionals to make work life feasible (Chand, 2011). It is interesting to know that ‘Day Care Centres’ for the babies are opened in the company premises. The mothers can feed and come back to work stations. It is appreciated by women communities. Ganesh festival, Diwali, Christmas are celebrated to the great extent. It leads to communal harmony and better job satisfaction. Fun while work proves to be stress-buster.
Some of the renowned firms have reinforced to pursue further education for employees. The classes of specified courses are conducted on weekly-offs (i.e. Saturday, Sunday). Sometimes, 50% fees are reimbursed by the company. For example, Indo-German Company from Pune has designed policy for its staff to motivate and make them familiar with German language and culture. ‘Max Mullar Bhavan’ is appointed as training partner. They have trained 200+ employees on German language within the company premises. It created value-chain system with local touch as well (EXL, 2014). Likewise, project management, new short-term courses are made available online via Citrix Learning. Those who completed courses with remarkable achievements will be preferred during internal postings. On the other hand, domestic market is also targeted by the multi-national companies. The campaign like ‘Digital India’ has created ample business opportunities for software giants like Infosys, Wipro, Tata Consultancy Services and others in huge reforms in the banking sectors. Smart City Projects expect techno-savvy towns. Here, human resources officers have preferred local young talent with regional languages to understand the acute needs of the market.
Foreign companies who are looking to expand their business in India have to take care of cultural differences. If they can do this, profit margin will increase. Recently the series of festivals is started and it will continue for long time. HR policies should focus to tap such business developers who are eager to catch the momentum and increase sales targets. The buying behavior is more favourable in these days. The losses could be recovered and cost-effectiveness is feasible. Here, part-time or work-from-home will create some space for the company as back-up. The constraints of time, local transport, home-responsibilities can be overcome. The employee retention would no more be simply a dream but reality too.
There is a direct link between human resource practices and organizational performance. The unique and customized practices will transform HR professionals from officers to business partners. It is imperative to the firms to make an effective use of ‘Demographic dividend’. It is possible when the organizational policies are aligned with cultural diversity. The best HR practices certainly add value in terms of brand management, community involvement, corporate social responsibility (CSR) etc. “Global + Local = Glocal approach” makes the organization ‘unique’ and the best employer to work for. These practices affect in terms of competency mapping, employee engagement, attrition, customer-centricity etc. SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and PEST Analysis (Political, Economical & Environmental, Social & Cultural and Technical) could be the best ways. These exercises can be done both for individuals and organization. These days, marketplaces are also integrated within it. HR practices can redefine the path of success for an organization for sustainable and secure business growth. HR practices have potential to transform from ‘human resource’ to ‘human capital’ through cultural diversity.
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