Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Retention Strategies by Indian IT Majors

With the job market opening up, IT giants' human resource divisions are devising innovative strategies to retain employees. It includes improvised promotion cycles, creating career architecture programmes, monetary gains, travel benefits and intellectual growth.

Infosys is offering room to experiment and career soul searching to keep employees interested. This route is also working well for multinationals, including Google, who find that offering flexibility and freedom of movement across projects have kept employees glued. While for Wipro , offering restricted stock units and restructuring its hierarchical structure have been the retention strategy over the past two quarters. Google, regarded as the world's most preferred employer, has been trying to give employees opportunities to participate and ideate for projects on a global level and across specialisations. "We try to get employees to spend 20% of their time on projects other than their primary ones.

This encourages innovation in product development and foster inter-team communication," said Jayashri Ramamurti, head-people operations, engineering & product, Google India.

E Balaji, director and president of HR firm Ma Foi Randstad said, "Organisations are trying to be innovative in crafting their retention strategies. In addition to traditional perks and benefits like bonuses and financial incentives, they want to offer compelling employee value proposition. Companies are offering attractive perks like holiday travels, and even sabbaticals and higher studies subsidy more widely.

Balaji said, "IT companies are beginning to link retention with generation characteristics. If, for instance, employee average age is under 30, flexi-work arrangements, job advancements, travel abroad and jobs for spouses when relevant are also being added."

Infosys senior vice-president & global head HR Nandita Gurjar said, "Employee aspirations are now sky rocketing. The challenge in such a market is definitely retention. We are trying to provide an option for hierarchical movement and lateral growth."

Infosys recently launched "Pathfinder," which is a career movement programme. As apart of this initiative, 23,000 people have gone through career workshops to understand more about their options.

The management says that it is trying to provide employees with internship programs to test waters across different career streams available internally and move around according to their aptitude.

"There are 26 career streams within the organisation. We want to create an environment where people can experiment without upsetting their career progression," Gurjar said. Infosys had promoted 8,000 people in April and had slotted 12,000 promotions to be filled by November.

Wipro, has been trying to reward employees through a more tangible process by dolling out 5.7 million shares as restricted stock units to its mid-management employees. This was followed up with a band restructuring programme that saw 20,000 junior level employees being promoted at a 7-8% salary hike in the second quarter of the fiscal. "When we looked at the industry, what we realised is that people are looking at faster growth and in order to be in sync with what is happening across, we split up bands. Now we have a band for people with two years or less experience, above two years experience and above five years experience," said Saurabh Govil, executive vice-president--human resources, Wipro.

From an employee perspective, consultants feel that people are looking for breadth of role more than monetary benefits and promotions. "Promotions and financial perks do have their attraction, but to an extent, these are knee jerk reactions from companies, and may not be sustainable in the long term. What employees truly want is to have greater depth and breadth in their job roles and functions," says Priya Chetty-Rajagopal, vice president of HR consultancy Stanton Chase International.

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