Improving labour & workplace indices

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Workforce is a vital component capable of stimulating economic growth and societal advancement. In contrast to the traditional perspective of viewing the workforce as a mere “expense” associated with conducting business, contemporary perspectives recognize the same as valuable asset, playing a pivotal role in an organization’s expansion and progress. It is akin to lifeblood that sustains momentum offering essential energy thus boosting prosperity. The presence of a well-defined and focused strategic workforce has a direct impact on productivity and profitability of any business.

Acknowledging that key to their success hinges significantly on their workforce, organizations are increasingly prioritizing this critical asset. They are persistently endeavouring to guarantee recruitment of an optimal number of employees with the right skills matching suitable positions. Businesses worldwide are dedicated to enhancing the employee experience by offering an enabling environment where individuals are empowered to effectively harness their skills and abilities. This, in turn, fosters growth, an improved workplace atmosphere, and compensation supporting/enhancing their skillsets, ensuring financial security.

From a strategic perspective, organizations must ensure that their workforce needs are closely aligned with their business goals. This involves making thoughtful decisions about structuring the organization and deploying workforce effectively. To stay in sync with evolving market demands, it is essential to identify any skill gaps, then develop and execute strategies to bridge the same. The overarching objective is to narrow the divide between current skillsets and future competencies of employees.

Gallup International has recently released its State of the Global Workplace Report 2023 highlighting the largest ongoing global study of employee experiences. In this Report, Gallup explores how employees perceive their work and life, emphasizing its significance as a key predictor of organizational resilience and performance.

The Report offers captivating insights, revealing that “employee engagement” in 2022 surged to 23%, marking the highest level recorded by Gallup since it commenced its global engagement measurement in 2009. South Asia stands out as the primary driver of this positive trend, with a remarkable 7% rebound, now boasting the highest worldwide employee engagement rate at 33%. This noteworthy improvement in the “employee engagement” metric reflects an increased sense of meaning in work for many employees, as well as stronger connections with their teams, managers, and employers.

However, concurrently, a significant 60% of individuals are leaning towards a phenomenon referred to as “Quiet quitting”, as labelled by the Gallup survey. This term describes a state where someone becomes psychologically disengaged from their work. They may physically be present or logged into their computer, but they lack clarity on what to do or why it matters.

Additionally, they do not share any supportive connections with their colleagues, supervisor, or the organization. This situation has a detrimental impact on a company’s productivity and growth. The Report estimates that the combination of low engagement and actively disengaged employees incurs a cost of US$8.8 trillion dollars to the global economy, equivalent to 9% of the global GDP.

When analyzing employee engagement, daily stress, daily anger, and the job climate in South Asia, the Report draws attention to the following engagement levels:

Bangladesh stands at 34%, India 33%, Sri Lanka 26%, Nepal 25%, and Pakistan 9%. Notably, the Report does not include figures for Afghanistan.

Similarly, when it comes to the daily stress experienced by employees in this region, the Report reveals the following stress levels:

Sri Lanka at 58%, Bangladesh 41%, Nepal 34%, Pakistan 33%, and India 32%. However, there is no available data on employee stress levels in Afghanistan in the Report.

The data concerning daily anger among employees in these nations indicates the following anger levels:

India records a “Yes” percentage of 36%, Pakistan 34%, Sri Lanka 32%, Bangladesh  28%, and Nepal 22%.

Regarding the job climate, which gauges thoughts on the current job situation in one’s city or area, the Report reveals that in Nepal, 66% consider it a good time, India follows at 59%, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh both at 39%, and Pakistan at 19%. However, it is important to note that Gallup’s survey does not provide data for anger levels and job climate in Afghanistan. In comparison to the South Asian region, Canada and the United States exhibit distinct workforce characteristics. In these North American countries, “employee engagement”, or those considered engaged, stands at 31%, with a significant 52% falling into the category of not engaged and potentially inclined to quit, while 17% are identified as loudly quitting among the disengaged.

Job climate perception indicates a robust 71% believe it is a favourable time to find a job, while 47% express an intent to leave, either actively seeking new opportunities or contemplating it. Additionally, data on negative emotions among employees reveal a stress level of 52% and an anger level of 18% in these two countries.

The Report also shows that approximately 44% of employees worldwide reported experiencing high levels of stress the previous day, marking 2022 as the second consecutive year of record-high stress levels. This underscores the urgent need for substantial improvement, with companies being urged to allocate more resources toward employee well-being and creation of a supportive work environment that enables employees to effectively apply their skills. Numerous strategies can be employed to address these concerns and mitigate their impact, including renovating the workplace, enhancing social interactions, offering flexible work hours, and implementing employee recognition and reward programmes.

The Report delves into a fascinating aspect that is, comparison of remote work, hybrid models, and fully on-site work environments. It suggests that remote work offers enhanced flexibility and eliminates the stress of commuting, but conversely, on-site work alongside colleagues provides opportunities for connection, bonding, collaboration, and mentoring. According to Gallup’s findings, engagement has a 3.8 times greater impact on employee stress levels compared to their physical work location.

The data presented in the Report for Pakistan highlights the need for enhancements in the country’s workplace conditions. There exists substantial potential for such improvements, particularly for the government by initiating proactive measures to enhance the regulatory framework for the labour force. This includes aligning existing labour laws with international best practices, ensuring a standardized 40-hour work week, establishing a minimum wage that safeguards workers’ rights, and rigorously enforcing human rights within organizations. These steps not only serve to eradicate child labour but also diminish all kinds of exploitative practices, consequently elevating our global rankings on labour and workforce indices.


Dr. Ikramul Haq, Advocate Supreme Court, specializes in constitutional, corporate, media and cyber laws, ML/CFT, IT, intellectual property, arbitration and international taxation. He holds LLD in tax laws with specialization in transfer pricing. He was full-time journalist from 1979 to 1984 with Viewpoint and Dawn. He served Civil Services of Pakistan from 1984 to 1996. He established Huzaima & Ikram in 1996 and is presently its chief partner as well as partner in Huzaima Ikram & Ijaz. He studied journalism, English literature and law. He is Chief Editor of Taxation.  He is country editor and correspondent of International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD) and member of International Fiscal Association (IFA). He is Visiting Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and member Advisory Board and Visiting Senior Fellow of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE).

He has coauthored with Huzaima Bukhari many books that include Tax Reforms in Pakistan: Historic & Critical ReviewTowards Flat, Low-rate, Broad and Predictable Taxes (revised & Expanded Edition,  Pakistan: Enigma of Taxation, Towards Flat, Low-rate, Broad and Predictable Taxes (revised/enlarged edition of December 2020), Law & Practice of Income Tax, Law , Practice of Sales TaxLaw and Practice of Corporate LawLaw & Practice of Federal ExciseLaw & Practice of Sales Tax on ServicesFederal Tax Laws of PakistanProvincial Tax LawsPractical Handbook of Income Tax, Tax Laws of PakistanPrinciples of Income Tax with Glossary and Master Tax Guide, Income Tax Digest 1886-2011 (with judicial analysis).

He is author of Commentary on Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements signed by PakistanPakistan: From Hash to Heroin, its sequel Pakistan: Drug-trap to Debt-trap and Practical Handbook of Income Tax. He regularly writes columns for many Pakistani newspapers and international journals and has contributed over 2500 articles on a variety of issues of public interest, printed in various journals, magazines and newspapers at home and abroad.

Abdul Rauf Shakoori, Advocate High Court, is a subject-matter expert on AML-CFT, Compliance, Cyber Crime and Risk Management. He has been providing AML-CFT advisory and training services to financial institutions (banks, DNFBPs, investment companies, money service businesses, insurance companies and securities), government institutions including law enforcement agencies located in North America (USA & CANADA), Middle East and Pakistan. His areas of expertise include legal, strategic planning, cross border transactions including but not limited to joint ventures (JVs), mergers & acquisitions (M&A), takeovers, privatizations, overseas expansions, USA Patriot Act, Banking Secrecy Act, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The recent publication, coauthored with Huzaima Bukhari is: Pakistan Tackling FATF: Challenges & Solutions,

available at:  and

Dr. Ikramul Haq, Advocate Supreme Court, specialises in constitutional, corporate, media, ML/CFT related laws, IT, intellectual property, arbitration and international tax laws. He is country editor and correspondent of International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD) and member of International Fiscal Association (IFA). He is Visiting Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and member Advisory Board and Visiting Senior Fellow of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE). He can be reached on Twitter @DrIkramulHaq.


  1. Dr. Ikramul Haq’s article, “Improving labour & workplace indices,” provides a comprehensive and insightful analysis of the evolving role of the workforce in contemporary organizations. By emphasizing the shift from viewing employees as mere expenses to recognizing them as valuable assets, Dr. Haq highlights the critical importance of a strategic workforce in driving productivity and profitability.
    His discussion of Gallup International’s State of the Global Workplace Report 2023 adds a timely and data-driven dimension to the narrative.

    The author’s call for improvements in workplace conditions in Pakistan through proactive measures and alignment with international labour standards demonstrates a commitment to enhancing not only the well-being of employees but also the country’s global standing on labour and workforce indices. The article combines academic inputs with real-world relevance, making it a commendable contribution to the discourse on labour and workplace dynamics.

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