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We need to relook how we handled the issue of layoffs, says N Chandrasekaran

The IT services major has lately been in the news after laid-off employees aired their grievances on social media

Shivani Shinde Nadhe & Sheetal Agarwal  |  Pune/Mumbai 

N Chandrasekaran

N Chandrasekaran, managing director and chief executive officer of India’s largest information technology services provider, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), says the company is in growth mode and there is no reason for any personnel restructuring.

“We only drive the performance structure,” he said.

TCS had in recent weeks been the subject of reports of a large number of layoffs. It has denied such an action and stated “involuntary attrition” is usual at one to two per cent of total employees. However, several employees have gone to social networking websites to vent their grievance.

“We are a people-oriented company. I have come through the ranks, I know exactly what a person with an experience of 10 years would be feeling. Involuntary attrition in the company is not new. Why did it become an issue this time around, we need to rethink. We also need to relook at how we handled the issue — should we have reacted immediately or have reached out to people on social media, etc,” said the MD.

Chandrasekaran hasn’t worked anywhere else. He joined TCS in 1987 after a postgraduate degree in computer applications from Regional Engineering College, Trichy, Tamil Nadu, in 1986, and a Bachelor’s in applied science from the Coimbatore Institute of Technology.

If someone was identified as non-performing, they must have had a record of multiple years of not doing well or it had to come from the business head, he felt.

Both Chandrasekaran and Ajoy Mukherjee, global head of personnel at TCS, reiterated there was no target ever in these matters. Mukherjee said his team was reviewing why the issue grew to such an extent.

“We have an appraisal process twice a year. Everyone goes through it and at the end of this, a performance rank is given and that is what decides an individual’s compensation. At junior level, the process is different — one rank will not decide what you get, as people need to be given an option to improve and upgrade. The process at the mid to senior level also takes into consideration training and upgrading options,” he said.

He’s quick to add that if an individual does not take an initiative to improve, the company has had to let them go. “At some time in life, when we see that an individual is not taking necessary steps to grow and is comfortable at what they are, and even at that one role, the individual is not doing better than an individual who comes after him/her, then we need to take a call. If you continue to be average, that means you are not improving,” he said.

TCS has also for the first time given data on some details of this ‘involuntary attrition’. For the first nine months of this year, TCS said the number of such employees was 2,574 or 0.8 per cent of the total employee strength. The corresponding numbers for FY14 and FY13 were 2,203 and 2,132, respectively. “The total involuntary attrition for the current fiscal year will be around one per cent,” TCS said. At the end of December, the staff total was 318,625.

Mukeherjee says employees subject to this were given three months of salary, all the medical benefits for the financial year and outstation agency help to find a suitable job. “Someone who has been in TCS for such a long time is not a bad person. It’s just that in our environment, they are not able to fit and grow the way we want them to.”

He agreed that losing a job was not easy for anybody, nor was it easier for a TCSer to communicate this. “In social media, anyone can comment and join the discussion. It is a learning for us,” he said.

TCS to hire at least 500 from US campuses

Tata Consultancy Services is to hire at least 500 college graduates from campuses in America for FY16. “This is our trainee target hiring in the US. We had hired over 400 students for FY15 for our operations in the US,” said Ajoy Mukherjee, head of human resources.

TCS has set a target to hire 55,000 people this financial year. “We think we will exceed the target. We are yet to finalise the numbers and most of them will be in lateral (hiring). These numbers will include hiring in the foreign market,” he said. It had taken 52,700 people in the year as of end-December.

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First Published: Tue, January 20 2015. 00:47 IST