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Curiosity is integral to workplace success and career advancement in India: SAS Report

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Curiosity is becoming an increasingly valuable skill for employers and managers globally as well as in India with the potential to address some of the biggest challenges facing organisations today – from improving employee retention and job satisfaction to creating more innovative, collaborative and productive workplaces. According to a new SAS research report, over three quarters (85 per cent) of Indian managers believe curiosity is a very valuable trait in employees, with more than half agreeing it has become more important over time (67 per cent), and most importantly nearly three quarters of Indian managers believe that curiosity drives real business impact (76 per cent) and that employees who have more curiosity are higher performers (60 per cent). These findings and more are explored in a new study – the SAS [email protected] Report – surveying nearly 2000 managers globally including India and featuring data from LinkedIn over the last year.

The report defines curiosity as the impulse to seek new information and experiences and explore novel possibilities, highlighting the importance of this trait no matter an employee’s role or level within their organisation. This importance and emphasis on curiosity as a workplace skill is evident in the increased prevalence and engagement around this trait on LinkedIn. The report highlights how curiosity has gained traction amid growing demand for this skill. According to LinkedIn data, year-over-year there has been a 158 per cent increase in engagement with posts, shares and articles mentioning curiosity, 90 per cent growth in job postings that mention curiosity and 87 per cent growth in the mention of skills related to curiosity.

In today’s environment of the Great Resignation, managers globally as well as in India are finding it especially challenging to keep employee morale and motivation high, with 64 per cent of Indian managers citing this as a difficulty. Over half of Indian managers face challenges retaining good employees (59 per cent), getting employees to push beyond just basic job duties (56 per cent) and driving cross-collaboration with other teams and departments (55 per cent). However, many of the benefits associated with curiosity directly address these key business challenges and concerns. The Indian managers surveyed agreed that the benefits of curiosity include greater efficiency and productivity (65 per cent), improved creative thinking (63 per cent), stronger collaboration and teamwork (61 per cent), and greater employee engagement and job satisfaction (62 per cent).

Most Indian managers agree that curiosity is particularly valuable when innovating new solutions (61 per cent), tackling complex problems (55 per cent), and analysing data (56 per cent), making it an important trait for fueling data insights and integration. Those employees in India who are considered more curious also note their employer is significantly more advanced in digital transformation (69 per cent vs. 44 per cent among those who rate low in curiosity). These Indian employees also frequently use more data sources in their roles, particularly those that help them better understand their customers (61 per cent), performance (64 per cent) and employees (64 per cent).

For their business to succeed in the next three years, Indian managers say their organisation needs employees with technical expertise in areas of artificial intelligence (67 per cent) and data analysis (65 per cent) as well as personal attributes like creative thinking (67 per cent), problem-solving (64 per cent).

“Our research, coupled with LinkedIn’s data, depicts significant value of curiosity across a wide range of applications both India as well as globally. Curiosity is now considered a crucial business imperative that can help companies in addressing imminent business challenges, as well as encourage collaboration, creativity and foster innovation,” said Kunal Aman, Head, Marketing and Communications, SAS India. “Furthermore, curiosity is intrinsic to workplace success and managers especially in India need to further harness this skill and nurture it across employee levels to succeed in workplace,” added Aman.

While the majority of managers surveyed globally and in India believe curiosity is valuable, many face challenges including fostering and encouraging this skill. Even if Indian managers feel they are equipped to identify this trait, many say it is challenging to develop curiosity in employees who do not naturally have it (50 per cent) and struggle with connecting curiosity to job performance (45 per cent) and business impact (46 per cent).

In addition, not all managers and companies in India consistently agree with the inherent value of curiosity, voicing concerns about potential drawbacks of curiosity in the workplace. Close to half managers (46 per cent) go as far as to say they believe current employees and applicants have too much curiosity, and a similar proportion report concern for curiosity leading to increased risk of errors or bad decisions (43 per cent), greater difficulty taking action (44 per cent) and challenges managing employees (43 per cent).With these findings, the report highlights a disconnect in the perceived benefits of curiosity and organisations’ potential to harness and utilise this skill among employees, showcasing an urgent need for companies to effectively encourage, recognise and utilise curiosity or risk falling behind.

One way to mitigate these challenges is to look to organisations and managers who rate high in curiosity as an example. Furthermore, Curiosity is integral to workplace success and career advancement – and this is one area where companies across India can further encourage this trait. The report categorises the managers surveyed into four curiosity-minded segments:
Managers in India can be categorised as:

  • High Curiosity Collaborators (36 per cent of managers). 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.
  • Curiosity Skeptical Opinion Seekers (30 per cent of managers). These managers embrace challenges, and the possibility of being distressed does not impact 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 per cent of managers). 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 per cent of managers). The smallest segment, these managers do not believe curiosity adds any value to performance or the workplace.

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