HR policies of IT firms change with the times

Written by P P Thimmaya | Bangalore | Updated: Aug 19 2013, 16:54pm hrs
The $108-billion Indian IT industry, which employs over 3 million people and is known for its human resources (HR) policies, is now evolving innovative strategies to combat the sluggish business environment and keep the morale high among its workforce. The industry, which popularised the concept of employee stock options, flexible work timings and conducive working conditions, has seen fresh challenges of late and realised that mere headcount addition is not going to bring in revenues.

According to HCL Technologies chief HR officer Prithvi Shergill, the plan is to focus on higher productivity from employees and seeking greater degree of innovation from the workforce. There has been initiatives like value portal & mad jam at the IT major, where employee are encouraged to ideate and some of the ideas get converted to revenue-generating initiatives.

The industry has also realised that increased automation would be the way forward and is looking at newer ways of skilling and retraining employees. Earlier the answer was to throw more people into any new project but today companies are looking at higher automation and better technology tools which will result in higher revenue productivity, said Wipro senior VP (HR) Saurabh Govil.

This actually means that companies are constantly reskilling and retooling employees in newer technologies. For example, the bench strength in major IT companies like TCS, Infosys or Wipro are not kept idle as this period is used for upgrading to newer skills or getting used to latest technologies. At the same time companies are also encouraging employees go beyond their defined work functions. Today, IT companies are evaluating their staff not just for technical skills but also for proficiency in customer engagements. This would mean that employee ratings would also depend on their contribution towards additional revenue generation.

Wipro, for example, has constantly emphasised on greater customer engagements to keep its business momentum. While announcing the recent quarterly results, CEO T K Kurien said Wipros overall customer satisfaction score has been steadily rising and it grew by 11% year-on-year, as per its internal assessment. Customer satisfaction and engagement is a new tool by which employees are now rated during appraisals.

The importance of people can never be overemphasised in the IT industry. NR Narayana Murthy, who returned as the executive chairman of Infosys in June, took one of the key and popular decision of hiking staff salaries. Companies are now undertaking more stringent programme in rewarding top performers.

Recruitment firms point out that there is a steady shift in hiring and performance evaluation over the last several quarters among the IT majors. The disbursal kitty in terms of hikes and promotions has actually become smaller, and companies are now more judicious in giving out these incentives. HR experts point out that software-services firms are mostly looking at lateral hiring with expertise in specialised services. Sales experts, enterprise and technical architects and domain specialists are the profiles that are in demand.

Volume hiring has definitely gone down. Earlier, if companies used to hire 25 candidates at once from campuses, now it has come down to 3-4 best students from a batch. They are concerned about the quality of candidates and their specialisation. IT firms look for engineering graduates who are more aligned to the kind of work the companies do. Earlier it was more about engineers in general, now it is more specialised and need-based, said TeamLease Services senior vice-president Sangeeta Lala.