At Wipro, HCL Technologies, TCS, Infosys, others, bulk hiring is on decline

Written by P P Thimmaya | Bangalore | Updated: Jan 22 2014, 17:35pm hrs
IT jobsWipro, HCL Technologies, TCS, Infosys hiring patterns show you don't need to up headcount to ramp-up revenue.
Bulk hiring seems to be on a downward spiral in Wipro, HCL Technologies, TCS, Infosys and others as the $108-billion Indian software-services industry moves towards a non-linear mode of business with higher intellectual property (IP)-led work. While the country's leading IT players have posted encouraging earnings in recent quarters, their hiring pattern has shifted, indicating that headcount growth doesn't need to match with revenue accretion any longer. In short, IT firms now believe they needn't continue to hire big to earn more.

During the recently concluded December quarter, Wipro recorded its highest sequential dollar-revenue rise in the last eight quarters despite the IT firm continuing to shed its overall headcount. At the end of the third quarter, Wipro's total employee strength stood at 146,402, a decline of 814 people when compared to the previous quarter. Similarly cross-town rival Infosys Ltd had a negative net addition of 1,823 employees during the October-December stretch.

India's largest IT-services exporter Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) continued to hire, but in smaller numbers. TCS saw a decline of 2,201 people in net addition during the December quarter compared to its previous quarter. Noida-based HCL Technologies cut down on its net intake by over 500 people during the December quarter. HCL Tech has had the fastest growth rate among the top-tier pack, but it has seen a negative net addition of employees in two out of the past five quarters. As an industry, a decade back, we have seen the equation between huge hiring and huge growth that equation is slowly changing. Currently we are still seeing growth in lot of organisations without similar numbers being hired and that is the trend which will continue, Saurabh Govil, senior vice-president (HR),

Wipro told FE.

It 's not just a quarter phenomenon, but over the last two fiscals, the overall headcount addition across top-tier IT-services companies have seen a decline. The annual net addition of employees by Infosys, for instance, during FY13 has been the company's lowest in the past five years. It had a net intake of 6,694 people compared with 19,174 in FY12. Mumbai-based TCS had a net addition of 37,613 employees in FY13 versus 39,969 in FY12, a decline of 2,356 people.

During the announcement of the Q3 results, Infosys chairman NR Narayana Murthy pointed out that hiring in large numbers is not a parameter for growth any longer. It is important to remember that recruitment numbers alone should not be the criterion to judge whether the company is growing because all over the world and in India we have to look at improving productivity, he said, adding that let us not go only by the number of people that a company recruits to indicate what the future will be. Future is a function of so many things, markets, our ability to sell well and all of that. One important factor is employee productivity.

In the last few quarters, Infosys has been more focused towards improving the utilisation level. For Infosys, during the December quarter, the utilisation rate, excluding trainees, stood at 78%, marginally higher than 77.8% a quarter ago. Wipro's net utilisation excluding trainees remained at 74.3%, which is around 10% points below that of TCS and HCL during the same period.

Typically Indian IT firm follow the classical pyramid model of employee structure with the largest number (about 60% of the total workforce) consisting of employees with 0-2 years' experience and this is reflected in their annual intake. Even for FY14, the industry is expected to hit a new low spot in annual intake compared to its glorious years of 2005-07 when the sector created close to three lakh jobs every year, including a substantial chunk of campus hiring. For FY14, the sector is projected to recruit on a wider base of 130,000-150,000 people as some IT firms are still struggling with backlogs from its previous year's recruitment.