Jobs at bottom of the pyramid will get automated: Wipro

Written by Sayan Chakraborty | Bangalore | Updated: Apr 25 2014, 16:54pm hrs
Wipro LtdWipro's senior VP for Human Resources says that in fast-changing technology environment, there is a lot of stress on reskilling employees.
Wipro, Indias third-largest IT services exporter, added just 241 people to its total headcount in FY14 with focus on automating mundane processes and hiring individuals with specific, rather than generic, skills. Saurabh Govil, senior VP HR, in an interview with Sayan Chakraborty, said that in a fast-changing technology environment, there is a lot of stress on reskilling employees. Excerpts

What will be the hiring pattern at Wipro this year

Most of the players have said FY15 will be better than FY14. If demand goes up, hiring will also go up, which means attrition will also increase. I feel the activity level will be higher.

There is no change in our hiring plan from last year. We will go to campuses and hire in India and onsite. We will hire experienced people based on business requirements. Our focus is on hiring people with domain knowledge, those from consulting and sales. We were never big on campuses.

The industry is maturing and as you do more transformational work for your customers and go up the value chain, the requirements become different. As we are driving a lot of automation and productivity, jobs at the bottom of the pyramid will get automated. There will be a lot of focus on re-skilling people. It's good for the employees to do higher-end jobs instead of the mundane ones. In terms of hiring, there will be a lot of focus on re-skilling and retraining people as we move forward.

What do you mean by a change in the pyramid structure

We will need individuals with more specific rather than generic skills. Technology is changing fast. There will be a lot of demand for people with specific skills than just engineers. Earlier, we used to go to campuses in the fifth semester, now we go in the eighth. Clearly, a shift is happening. As far as Wipro is concerned, we have not reached a point to assert that we are changing the classical pyramid structure. But, unlike in the past, when the industry was less automated, there's a lot more automation coming up.

How does Wipro measure productivity

Productivity means getting better value for the same job. There are four ways of looking at it. First, can I make my rate realisation improve Because when I do higher value-added work for the customer, he is willing to pay more. Second, how can I become more efficient Third, I eliminated some sundry jobs that employed two-three people full-time. Fourth, when I start selling intellectual property. Productivity essentially means I do more with less, or more with the same. It also means more in terms of topline.

In the BPO industry, attrition is much higher than in IT. But the industry is growing. It is based on outcome. It depends on how an organisation is able to manage attrition. Otherwise, it is just

a number.

Given the emphasis on automation, is Wipro likely to have excess manpower

No. The good part is, we are in a growing industry. People are laid off when there is no growth. If you use the existing people for future growth, there's no problem. We have to equip them to do a new job and re-skill them. That's what we are doing this year. The focus for us is re-skilling people for deployment at all levels.

In FY14, Wipro made a net addition of 241 to its headcount. Are you actually hiring

If you look at the gross hiring numbers, they are fairly large. But theres more to them. You have to consider growth and utilisation.

In terms of utilisation, we have space to improve. We can use people more effectively. Then, another factor is the entire supply chain, apart from automation. All these would drive the overall headcount. Besides, every quarter we are hiring laterally. A third of the recruits are lateral hires and two-thirds are freshers. We will not change overnight, but you will see the industry become more and more outcome-based. Customers are driving productivity and becoming outcome-focused. It's so many factors that drive the headcount. But I dont see our numbers increasing by 15,000-20,000.

Are you looking to differentiate betwwen performers and laggards

We will differentiate. The salary hike of 6-8%, which we announced, is average-driven. High-performing and high-impact individuals will get much more. People who have not done well will get lower, or zero, increase. There is a range. High performers will get a double-digit raise. There are so many parameters to evaluate employees. It will become individual-specific. For any global organisation, if you don't differentiate, you can not create excellence.

Is attrition a worry

We would be happier if it was lower. You have to insulate the industry from the attrition point of view. The industry should handle a certain level of attrition. At Wipro, we have become predictable. We announced hikes on June 1, besides promotions. Nine out of 10 people want predictability.