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Pink-slip paranoia strikes tech town
- Downturn-hit companies raise performance bar, lower pay scales

Forget a raise, Anirban (name changed) is ready to take a pay cut this year. The perks of the job are not important to him right now, the job is.

Tighter performance parameters and surprise assessment tests in the time of downturn have triggered the fear of job losses in tech town.

“The signs are scary. We have heard that employees currently not engaged in any project are being identified and their performance reports scanned closely to draw up a list of people who should be shown the door,” Anirban, an employee of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), told Metro.

Until a couple of months ago, Anirban and his colleagues at TCS had thought the worst-case scenario was a “flat increment” — a term denoting little or no raise in salary — and a freeze on some perks. They now fear for their jobs.

Not just in TCS, which employs 10,000-plus people in its eight city offices, pink-slip paranoia has gripped techies in other infotech behemoths like Wipro and IBM, too.

According to a conservative estimate, over 60,000 people are employed in 220-odd companies in Salt Lake’s Sector V. The majority of them work for the big daddies like TCS, Wipro, IBM and Cognizant Technology Solutions.

“We hear stories about impending layoffs every day. The threat to my job is no longer imagined, it’s real,” said a Jadavpur University graduate employed by TCS since 2006.

Kalyan Kar, the managing director of BPO firm Acclaris, said all companies were “streamlining” operations to beat the downturn blues and would need to get stricter with employees.

“The global financial situation is worsening. So more stringent steps can be expected,” he warned.

Stringent steps are not new in tech town. Several hundred employees of TCS, Wipro and IBM lost their jobs last year.

Although none of these companies has made any official announcement yet on reducing manpower, regular internal communication on cost-cutting measures is being interpreted by employees as the signal for another round of layoffs.

The official word from each of these companies is similar — that “performance-related attrition” is a regular process in IT companies.

“Our company lays emphasis on high performance and the efficiency of employees is reviewed through a regular process of appraisal. This results in some performance-related attrition every year,” said a spokesperson for TCS.

But the company declined to share any attrition statistics.

Some companies have begun conducting surprise examinations to test recent recruits.

“I know of circulars being issued by a biggie, informing employees that they will have to take a test and score 70 per cent in a maximum of three attempts to retain their jobs,” said an employee of Cognizant.

A techie in his early thirties said the delay in issuing joining letters to campus recruits was another sure sign of slowdown in the job market.

Cognizant still hasn’t given joining dates to the graduates it had recruited through campus interviews last year, while TCS has deferred appointments made in 2008 till 2010.

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