Curiosity@Work Report | Insights by Country
Key Findings for India
- Managers in India struggle, similarly to their global peers, with issues related to employee morale and retention, as well as face challenges related to hiring applicants with necessary technical and interpersonal skills.
- Managers in India are on par with global averages in believing curiosity is an intrinsically valuable trait that will continue to become more important for employees to have – particularly among company leadership.
- Curiosity can help address Indian managers' concerns. Highly valuable benefits of curiosity include increased efficiency (65%), creative thinking (63%) and stronger collaboration (61%) in the workplace and among employees.
- Managers in India are among the most likely globally to believe curiosity in employees drives real business impact, and more say their organization formally includes curiosity in areas like performance reviews as well as hiring criteria. However, this mindset does not fully extend to all areas of curiosity. Many believe their employer is doing too much to foster this trait (39%) and employees and job applicants have too much of it (46%), suggesting a conflicting relationship between the perceived value of curiosity and the desire to encourage this trait among employees. Further communicating and demonstrating the benefits of curiosity can potentially address concerns surrounding this trait.
- More than 2 in 5 managers (44%) in India fall into a category of individuals considered to be highly curious based on the SAS Curiosity Index (on par with global findings). These managers exhibit greater workplace engagement and motivation and do more to encourage this valuable skill among their direct reports.
Curiosity is an increasingly valuable employee trait both globally and in India.
Amid the Great Resignation and current hiring frenzy, managers in India are likely to:
- Believe curiosity is a very valuable trait in employees (85%).
- Believe curiosity is much more important for employees to have today than it was five years ago (67%).
- Strongly agree curiosity in employees drives real business impact (76%).
- Strongly agree employees who have more curiosity tend to be higher performers (60%).
Managers in India believe curiosity is a very valuable trait across organizational levels, and are more likely to believe this trait is highly valuable among entry-level employees compared to the global average:
- C-suite executives (59%).
- Directors and departmental leaders (63%).
- Midlevel managers (52%).
- Entry-level employees (69% in India vs. 53% globally).
When asked in which departments it is especially valuable for employees to have curiosity, Indian managers say:
- IT (65%).
- Research and development (50%).
- Accounting and finance (41%).
Indian managers recognize that curiosity is a skill that can address key challenges and concerns, similar to their global counterparts.
Top employee challenges managers in India are facing:
- Keeping employee morale/motivation high (64%).
- Retaining good employees (59%).
- Achieving team performance objectives (58%).
- Getting employees to push beyond just basic job duties (56%).
- Cross-collaboration with other teams/departments (55%).
Managers in India recognize the potential benefits of curious employees:
- Greater efficiency and productivity (65%).
- More creative thinking and solutions (63%).
- Greater employee engagement and job satisfaction (62%).
- Stronger collaboration and teamwork (61%).
- More flexibility and adaptability during times of uncertainty (60%).
Indian managers, like their global peers, note the interconnectedness of curiosity and data expertise and digital integration.
To succeed in the next three years, managers in India need employees with:
- Technical skills in artificial intelligence (67%) and data analysis (65%).
- Personal attributes like creative thinking (67%) and problem solving (64%).
Focusing on the beneficial outcomes of curiosity, Indian managers believe it is valuable for employees to have this trait when:
- Innovating new solutions (61%).
- Analyzing data (56%).
- Tackling complex problems (55%).
Looking to managers who rate high in curiosity,1 these managers:
- Use an average of four different data sources in their role vs. three for their less-curious peers.2
- More often use employee data (64% vs. 47% among those who rate low in curiosity), performance metric data (64% vs. 38%) and customer data (61% vs. 32%).
These more-curious managers, globally and in India, tend to be more advanced in their company’s integration of digital technology as well. Overall, nearly two-thirds (62%) of managers in India believe their company’s integration of digital technology is very advanced. These Indian managers who rate high in curiosity are also more likely to describe their organization as very advanced (69% vs. 44% those who rate low in curiosity), highlighting how curiosity can help organizations adapt and become more competitive.
Curiosity is integral to workplace success and career advancement – companies in India can further encourage this trait.
Companies in India lead most other markets in their formal inclusion of curiosity (or similar traits) in:
- Promotion or advancement decisions (78% in India vs. 66% globally).
- Company training and development (78% in India vs. 71% globally).
- Employee performance review criteria (77% in India vs. 70% globally).
- Hiring criteria (77% in India vs. 66% globally).
Like managers in other markets, those in India personally consider or encourage curiosity via:
- Employee performance reviews (87%).
- Hiring decisions (85%).
- Coaching or team development (85%).
- Promotion or advancement decisions (80%).
Companies and managers in India appear to be strong in their incorporation of curiosity within both company and managerial practices. Complexity continues to surround curiosity, however, as about 2 in 5 (39%) Indian managers believe their current employer is doing too much to encourage or foster curiosity in employees, and 46% believe employees and job applicants have too much of this trait. This suggests a conflicting relationship seen in other markets between the perceived value of curiosity, its potential benefits, and the inclination to foster this trait in employees.
While many managers in India feel equipped to identify this trait, many also face concerns and challenges around fostering curiosity.
Indian managers are more likely than their global peers to note they are very well equipped to identify curiosity in:
- Job applicants (62% in India vs. 53% globally).
- Direct reports (67% in India vs. 58% globally).
However, more than two in five managers in India (on par with global averages) are very concerned about curiosity’s potential to lead to:
- Greater difficulty coming to a final decision or taking action (44%).
- Increased risk of errors or bad decisions (43%).
- Decreased efficiency or productivity (43%).
- Greater difficulty managing employees (43%).
These managers, like their global counterparts, admit they find it challenging to:
- Develop curiosity in employees who don’t naturally have it (50%).
- Communicate the benefits of curiosity to others (46%).
- Identify situations or problems for which curiosity is most useful (46%).
- Connect curiosity to job performance (45%).
More-curious managers exhibit greater workplace engagement and work to foster this skill among direct reports in several ways – both globally and within India.
The Curiosity Index3 was used to measure the prevalence of workplace curiosity in managers. Managers in India generally fall along global lines and can be categorized as:
- High curiosity (most inclined to identify with statements defining a curious nature) (44%).
- Moderate curiosity (41%).
- Low curiosity (least inclined to identify with statements defining a curious nature) (15%).
Highly curious managers in India embrace differing ideas and have a relentless pursuit of knowledge and understanding. They often strongly agree that:
- They seek out opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills (83%).
- They get excited thinking about experimenting with different ideas (82%).
- It is important to listen to ideas from people who think differently (80%).
- They work relentlessly to find answers to complicated questions at work (80%).
Further highlighting the value of curiosity in helping companies address some of their key challenges when it comes to employee retention and performance, curious managers are likely to say they:
- Strongly agree they would continue to work for their employer for as long as possible (83%).
- Strongly agree they feel motivated to go above and beyond what their job requires (80%).
- Believe their direct reports’ performance is very strong (80%).
The top methods more-curious managers in India use to foster and encourage curiosity are by:
- Rewarding curiosity in performance reviews (78%).
- Allowing the use of work time to explore passion projects (77%).
- Publicly praising employees who demonstrate curiosity (72%).
Managers across the curiosity spectrum can be further divided into one of four segments based on how each segment values curiosity in the workplace in various ways.
Managers in India can be categorized as:
- High-curiosity collaborators (36% of managers in India vs. 35% globally). The most curious segment. These managers value collaboration, are teamwork-driven and are relentless in finding answers. They do this through listening and valuing co-workers' ideas and continuously seeking opportunities to expand skills, but are more hesitant when new challenges present themselves. Focused on curiosity, these managers believe this trait leads to greater efficiency and productivity at work and results in greater job satisfaction.
- Flexibility-driven opinion seekers (30% of managers in India vs. 26% globally). These managers embrace challenges, and the possibility of being distressed does not affect their motivation. Curiosity leads to greater flexibility and adaptability during times of uncertainty and can bring more empathy and inclusivity to workplaces. These managers do not believe that curiosity leads to a boost in efficiency or overall team performance.
- Productivity-focused leaders (22% of managers in India vs. 24% globally). These managers believe curiosity can lead to stronger collaboration and teamwork and help increase efficiency and productivity in the workplace. They do not, however, believe curiosity drives inclusivity and diversity of thought.
- Anti-curiosity leaders (12% of managers in India vs. 16% globally). The smallest segment, these managers do not believe curiosity adds any value to performance or the workplace.
 Base note: n=201 high-curiosity managers.
 Base note: n=66 low-curiosity managers, results should be viewed as directional.
 The 2021 Curiosity Index: The Curiosity Index score is based on the ratings of eight different attributes related to curiosity in the workplace. The index transforms the attributes’ raw ratings into a 0-100 metric where all the scores are averaged. Managers with a score of 71 or lower ranked “low” in the index; managers with a score ranging from 72 to 83 were categorized as “medium”; and those with a score or 84 or higher were assigned to the “high” category. The thresholds in each category were derived based on the index score distribution and best practices. Questions used in the development of this index were inspired by research conducted by Todd Kashdan and his team on the topic of curiosity in the workplace, “Curiosity has comprehensive benefits in the workplace: Developing and validating a multidimensional workplace curiosity scale in United States and German employees”.
Given its global value and impact, it is evident that curiosity is an increasingly necessary and crucial skill employees across levels (especially entry-level employees in India) need to develop, as well as a trait that organizations must foster to remain competitive. Findings among India-based managers show their employers are leading global averages in their company’s formal inclusion of curiosity in company initiatives like performance reviews, training and development, and hiring criteria. However, many managers in India believe their employer is doing too much to foster or encourage this trait, and that many employees and job applicants have too much curiosity – suggesting a complexity to the perceived benefits and value of this trait and the inclination to encourage it in the workplace. Curiosity can foster more creative and productive workplaces, and address challenges related to employee morale and retention – key to mitigating the Great Resignation and hiring challenges that many organizations in India and globally are experiencing.
Knowing how to effectively develop this trait among employees is difficult. Many managers in India and on a global level find it challenging to communicate the value of this skill and connect it to areas like job performance. Managers identified as being more curious in our research show increased motivation and satisfaction in their role and actively work to encourage this trait among their direct reports. This is done in multiple ways, by rewarding curiosity in performance reviews or allowing employees to use work time to work on passion projects. The case for curiosity is clear; it is now up to organizations to further embrace this trait and for managers to continue to incorporate this skill in their employee development efforts or risk falling behind.