Skill development, rewarding workforce, and support from government essential to driving innovation among Indian businesses: Microsoft-IDC study

New Delhi: Businesses in India have identified workforce alignment through skilling and rewarding and support from government as winning strategies for strengthening innovation and business resilience, said a Microsoft-IDC study. According to the recent report, ‘Culture of Innovation: Foundation for business resilience and economic recovery in Asia Pacific’, 29% of Indian businesses are investing in intensifying enterprise-wide capabilities and skilling initiatives. Per the survey, 28% of organizations in India prioritize and formalize innovation rewards over traditional performance. Significantly, among the workers surveyed for the report, 55% acknowledged that businesses should formalize innovation-based rewards. The findings also highlighted that 25% of Indian enterprises expect support from government to advance digital and tech skills in the workforce.

Future-proofing business with skilling and diversity

The report highlights that while businesses are keen to innovate, long-term, sustained innovation must be driven by a focus on diversity and skilling. The findings point out that organizations with a strong and forward-thinking approach to empowering their people are most likely to innovate faster and better. 15% of Indian workers and 13% of business development managers (BDMs) surveyed believe that leaders need to prioritize a culture that embraces innovation. Moreover, 51% workers and 48% leaders acknowledge that in three years workforce models should include re-skilling and up-skilling opportunities, so that employees adapt with agility to changing requirements. Recognizing the necessity of diversity to drive innovation, 30% of organizations have also increased focus on hiring a diverse cross-industry, multicultural, and multigenerational workforce.

Innovation and digitalization need to be supported by the development of people that are digital-ready. Specifically, 36% of organizations in India indicated that they would invest in tech skills across the organization as tech-savvy employees are needed to support digital transformation. Over the next 12 months, businesses are looking to focus on Technology (45%) and People (19%) to remain resilient and recover faster.

Transformation is at risk if there is no workforce alignment

93% of workers believe that a culture of innovation is most important in attracting and retaining people for the workforce alignment, while 72% of organizations reported their main approach is to reskill and retain staff and try to minimize layoffs. The report also states that such a culture should be built into all aspects of an organization – from rewards and performance measures to building trust and good connections. This can be achieved through performance-based rewards and encouraging disruptive ideas. 30% of organizations in the study said that they have developed a culture promoting disruptive ideas and encouraging innovation as a corporate value. However, 50% workers have also stated that their organizations are yet to prioritize a culture that strives for innovative and disruptive ideas, hires innovative talent, or focuses on upskilling – underlining the need for increased focus from organizations.

“It is encouraging to see business leaders recognize the importance of skilling and re-skilling to build enterprise-wide capabilities and incentivizing breakthrough ideas to drive long-term innovation. At Microsoft, we believe that enhancing people’s capabilities is critical to building tech intensity – an essential factor in enabling the culture of innovation. We are committed to working with organizations to build an innovation-led business ecosystem where the workforce is highly skilled and constantly driving improvements in products and services.” said Rajiv Sodhi, COO, Microsoft India.

Government support for advancing digital and tech skills

To further drive innovation, government-business symbiosis is essential. A significant share of business leaders surveyed expect the government to support the economy and businesses, particularly in the areas of advancing digital and tech skills in the workforce (25%) and digital technology adoption incentives for businesses (21%).

The report ‘Culture of Innovation: Foundation for business resilience and economic recovery in Asia Pacific’ introduced the Culture of Innovation framework based on the parameters of People, Data, Technology, and Process. It is based on a survey covering 439 business decision-makers and 438 workers in India within a six-month period, before and since COVID-19. The India study was part of a broader survey among 3,312 business decision-makers and 3,495 workers across 15 markets in the Asia Pacific region.

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