31 October, 2018

India, Mumbai

  • A first for the survey, four Indian cities Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad & Kolkata feature in the list of 15 cities surveyed
  • The study reveals six critical findings vital to realizing economic opportunities and growth, including a disconnect between employers and employees in terms of what motivates people to move to a city and to stay there
  • Across countries, security and safety remains the top priority for professionals and organisations while choosing cities
  • 60% or more of the workers in the Indian cities experience moderate to high stress levels.
  • City leaders and infrastructure planners should incorporate the “voice of the employee” into their planning processes to better incorporate the human and social factors that drive residency decisions

Mercer, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth and career, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. (NYSE: MMC), today announced the results of an extensive study that examines the needs of workers in the world’s fastest-growing cities across four key factors – human, health, money and work.

The study provides critical insight into the motivations of workers against the backdrop of fierce competition for highly-skilled talent. It also provides practical advice for companies and municipalities to help them accelerate their talent strategies and realize commercial gains.

Entitled “People first: driving growth in emerging megacities,” the study surveyed 7,200 workers and 577 employers in 15 current and future megacities across seven countries, namely Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco and Nigeria. As defined by the United Nations[1], the seven countries will have a combined population of 150 million people by 2030 and share strong, projected GDP.

“There are unprecedented opportunities in growth markets, yet they come with inherent challenges. The rapid growth of next-generation cities sees them poised to leapfrog larger markets but, in order to do so, they need to attract and keep highly-skilled people,” said Martine Ferland, Group President at Mercer. “Most studies rely on secondary research or academic papers that analyze economic data, investments and infrastructure. This study is the first of its kind, in that it investigates the human and social reasons why people move to, within and out of a city.

“We learned that employers misunderstand what motivates people to move to a city and stay there. Moreover, cities are not performing well when it comes to addressing many of the more human and social factors that are listed as important among key employee groups. This dynamic creates natural tensions between what people value most and a city’s ability to deliver,” Ms. Ferland added.

Key findings

The study explored 20 critical factors across four people-based pillars – human, health, money and work. Respondents were asked to rank five factors, based on how important they were in affecting their decision to stay in or leave a city. The most compelling finding was that for cities and businesses to attract the right talent to do the work of the future, human and social factors are the most important.

“The rapid urbanization of growth economies is certainly a hot topic, yet what’s not being properly addressed is the needs of people and the human and social factors that drive their decision making when it comes to what city they live and work in. That revelation is important when you recognize it is those very people upon whom the future of cities and the future of work depend,” said David Anderson, President, International at Mercer. “Overwhelmingly, our study reveals what people desire most is a better life for themselves and their families. And with the segmentation study we conducted in parallel, Mercer can help businesses tailor their recruitment, retention and facilities expansion programs in order to be more effective,” Mr. Anderson added.

Better addressing people’s unique needs

As part of the research, Mercer conducted an employee-focused segmentation analysis based on each respondent’s demographics, life stage, career progression, predisposition to life-long learning, aspirations and levels of financial security. The objective was to identify and better understand the specific needs of each unique employee segment and how those values and insights can help employers and planners in high-growth cities better address their values, interests and desires.

The five personas identified include: confident achievers; white collar professionals and graduates; struggling vocationals; business owners and skilled tradespeople; and professional families. While they vary greatly in their needs and wants, what unites each audience segment is a desire for greater overall life satisfaction.

Interestingly over 50% of employees across the four cities in India fall in either the Confident achiever or White Collar professional personas. For both these groups, Pay and Bonuses is a key factor in staying with the same employer, and Life Satisfaction is an important determinant of their choice of moving to or staying in a city.  “ Homogenity in personas makes it quite easy for organizations to understand and develop talent strategies that will specifically address the needs of each group. Once an employee has chosen to live in a city, ensuring that factors that are critical for an employee to stay with the organization are addressed will help with better retention, says Shanthi Naresh, India Business Leader, Career, and Regional Practice Leader, Workforce Rewards.    

Most cities are underperforming

In one of the most significant findings of the study for local governments, most workers say their cities are underperforming. The biggest tension between worker expectations and city performance is in safety and infrastructure. Pollution, personal stress, affordable housing, transport and mobility, and safety and security represent major gaps between what a city is able to deliver and what the employees surveyed value, presenting a major opportunity for making vast improvements in meeting workers’ needs and expectations in the future.

The study did reveal some good news, however, with many respondents saying the cities they live and work in do quite well in terms of cultural and economic factors, and with other areas including life satisfaction, career opportunities, proximity to airports and green spaces already meeting expectations.

Regional variations

Although the study’s 15 current and future megacities share some commonalities, some key differences were revealed. Based on performance against the four pillars of human, health, money and work, the cities were grouped into advanced, progressing or approaching in terms of whether they meet worker’s expectations. Advanced cities score well in all four factors, with a small-to-medium gap between workers’ expectations and the city’s performance.

Cities classified as progressing have a mid-size gap between expectations and performance, and approaching cities receive low scores across all four dimensions, with the biggest gap in expectations versus city’s performance, and the lowest general life satisfaction among the three groups.

Similarly, the impact of automation, AI and robotics vary significantly across countries, with China having the highest percentage of perceived positive impact and Africa the lowest.

A clear call for collaborative action

The study reveals people do not expect any one group to be responsible for addressing the systemic issues of their city. According to the study, workers expect their city or local government (79%), national or federal government (74%) and large businesses (57%) all to play a role in making cities more attractive and in meeting their needs for overall life satisfaction, safety and security, and income.

“The results of the research are quite encouraging for the Indian cities surveyed as three out of the four cities fall in the “Advanced” group with respect to city performance versus employee and employer expectation. They indicate that if organizations and government address gaps related to health and infrastructure issues,  there is great opportunity to further improve the competitiveness of these cities as destinations for key talent to live and work in. Additionally, paying attention to city specific concerns that have emerged from the study will go a long way in helping Indian cities realize their economic potential”, says Shanthi Naresh.   

Employees are looking to big institutions with the requisite resources and authority to effect real change. Ultimately, no one group can or should be responsible for addressing systemic issues.

The 15 cities included in the study have a population between three and 15 million people, strong projected GDP and population growth for the next decade, and more than $4 billion of foreign direct investment annually. The respondents were surveyed via a mix of online and face-to-face interviews from July to August 2018.



About Mercer:

Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Mercer’s more than 23,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With nearly 65,000 colleagues and annual revenue over $14 billion, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Marsh,which advises individual and commercial clients of all sizes on insurance broking and innovative risk management solutions; Guy Carpenter, which develops advanced risk, reinsurance and capital strategies that help clients grow profitably and pursue emerging opportunities; and Oliver Wyman, which serves as a critical strategic, economic and brand advisor to private sector and governmental clients. For more information, visit Follow Mercer on Twitter @mercerinindia

About the study

Mercer’s “People first: driving growth in emerging megacities” study surveyed 7,200 workers and 577 employers in 15 current and future megacities across seven countries, namely Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco and Nigeria. As defined by the United Nations[1], these 15 cities will have a combined population of 150 million people by 2030 and share strong, projected GDP.

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