Happiness at work in India

Three weeks ago I was in India to speak at the World HRD Congress in Mumbai and my speech was very well received – here’s some sample feedback:

“Your presentation was the best I’ve seen in 20 years in HR.”

“It was really great listening to your talk. I have implemented a lot of it in my life and I can already feel a huge difference.”

“Alexander Kjerulf was the rock star in the World HRD congress this year. He mesmerized participants from 79 countries with a simple yet powerful approach to create a happy work place.”

And India absolutely needs more happiness at work. Not that workplaces there are particularly bad, it’s just that the war for talent is still going strong. While the financial crisis has given many western workplaces an excuse to stop focusing on happiness at work, Indian workplaces are facing some stark realities:

  • Employee turnover among specialists and middle managers is around 20-30%.
  • Annual average pay rises are 12-13%.
  • There is a huge fight to attract newly educated Gen Y employees.

In short, Indian workplaces are doing their best to attract the best people, keep them in the workplace and help them perform optimally. The problem is that they’re doing all the wrong things, ie. things like wellness initiatives, bonuses, pay raises, promotions, etc. While there’s nothing wring with any of this, it simply isn’t what makes employees happy at work – at most it makes them satisfied.

In my speech, I tried to focus on what really does make people happy at work – and therefore more likely to stay in the workplace, more likely to do their best work and more likely to try to convince acquaintances, friends and family to also work there. And it seemed to really ring a bell.

So thanks to everyone who attended my presentation and a great big thank you to all the cool inspiring people I met at

Here are some pics from my speech

5 thoughts on “Happiness at work in India”

  1. Nice Alex.

    I trust you enjoyed India and participants shall apply what they learn from you. :D

    I’ve a question, do employee feel annoyed when someone from HR or management overdo to make them happy? Any example or case study? Thanks and liked the pic as well.

  2. I remember that speech! I wasn’t there, but I have watched it on TED when it was first published online. It’s a very good speech!

  3. So true that all the “perks and special programs” in the world can make employees feel satisfied but don’t make them happy. My question is this: During your time in India did you see anything that employers in that country are doing right that employers in the U.S. would do well to emulate? It seems that with their booming work economy they will be able to try some new and innovative things.

    Daisy Mccarty

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