Global Economics

Indian Tech Tries to Retain Top Workers


Infosys, Wipro, and others are trying to avoid layoffs by reassigning skilled workers to subsidiaries or asking them to accept reduced salaries

At a time when most IT companies are reducing employee numbers to cut costs, tech majors such as Wipro, TCS and Infosys are rechanellising their manpower. Sabbaticals are more common and people on the bench are being asked to undergo longer and more rigorous training programmes.

Wipro has asked some of its non-billable and skilled employees to move to subsidiary Wipro Infotech on the same pay package as earlier; but they will continue to be on the payrolls of Wipro Technologies. "These are not under performers, but talented people we don't want to lose. The move to Infotech is currently for a year, and this will give them a chance to be productive," Wipro executive VP (human resources) Pratik Kumar told ET. This will also help the firm in sustaining high utilisation rates.

The other option given to employees, who have been on the bench for over six months, is a special programme which allows them to come to work for 10 days a month, at half their salary. "This allows them to take up certification programmes, work on innovation projects and help in creating question banks for domain specific internal tests. Once we see an opening for them on a project, we will transfer them immediately," said Mr. Kumar.

TCS has also put its benched employees on high-end training programmes in areas such as enterprise resource planning, business intelligence and analytics. "We are building a larger skill set as we would like to be ready when the demand picks up," said a TCS spokesperson. The IT company has also invited its employees to write research papers on technology that can be used by the company.

Reducing employee numbers for saving costs is a short-term solution, said Infosys global HR head Nandita Gurjar. "When demand picks up, we'll be hiring skill pools at a higher cost; there will also be the cost of extra training. Weed out non-performers, but retain talent even if they are not being utilised currently."

While Infosys has said that 50 employees, at any given point of time, can take a year off and work for an NGO at half their salaries, its peer Wipro has introduced project rejuvenate where employees, across all levels, can take a year-long sabbatical and pursue their hobbies. This is not restricted to those on the bench, but also for those working on projects. Even though these people are asked to take a pay cut, it does not matter. "As long as you get to keep your job and do fun things to de-stress, a pay cut doesn't matter," said a Wipro employee.


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