Employee retention in India a growing issue as the dot com world beckons.
"Dot com the world" is the mantra of today's Indian software professional. Start-ups are the "in" thing in this domain. Both media and industry give much (undue) publicity to ventures started by every Tom, Dick and Harry. Whether the venture will succeed or not is a totally different question. As Pradeep Kar, CEO of Microland, rightly puts it, the "Net is not a bubble but some dot coms are."
Starting a new dot com or software company has become the ultimate goal of every IT professional. This is a cause of concern for human resource managers, as the attrition rate is growing beyond control. It is rather surprising that this is happening in India, a land where people are known to be conservative, that is, not so eager to start new ventures that involve big risks. It is becoming increasingly difficult to retain people in organizations.
What will make an employee happy? This is a million-dollar-question for which HR managers yearn for an answer. An interesting survey in one of the leading papers of India showed that Indians are some of the happiest people, next to US citizens. "Happiness" was measured in terms of satisfaction with money, status, power, society they live in, human relations, and so on. Indians, unlike the other countries in the survey, are satisfied by status, relations, money, power, and society they live in, in that order. This provides insight into the culture of Indians and can provide the needed solution to the HR managers.
Primarily, the people who leave an organization have work experience of one to three years and are mostly bachelors. It is not incongruous to mention the last factor here since Indians are more likely to shift jobs when they are single. It would not be a bad idea for a company to harp on family values to all of its employees, so that not only the employee should be happy but also his family.
Another factor is that despite shouting from the roof tops that they are informal and have flat hierarchies, Indian companies have unwritten policies. The informality stops with calling employees by their first name. The traditional system of seniority persists. Companies should have an environment of free interaction and open in-house discussions. This will make every employee feel important.
Pay is yet another factor that could tilt the balance. In India, there is a vast difference in salaries offered for the same position in different companies. Multi-national companies play a major part in this, as they offer higher compensation than Indian companies. Stock options are yet another factor that can trigger a job shift. The primary concern is how the profit percolates down to the employee. Profit sharing is a must for a company in order to stay in the race.
Most important are the environment in which the employee works, the benefits the company provides, and last but not the least, the social activities of the employee. This is very important but is sadly missing in most Indian companies. The companies have the attitude of "We pay, so you should work." Employees should be encouraged not only in their office work, but also in other fields like music or sports. The concept of holidays can be abolished as most software companies have flexible timing. Employees who have come from different towns can be asked to take time off after a period of continuous work and spend some time with their family. Also, an employee will remain loyal to a company if it goes out of the way to help him in a crisis, say when family members meet with an accident. How the company responds is a crucial aspect that may weaken or strengthen the bond between the employee and the company.
R. Raghuraman works in the VLSI Test Team of the ASIC organization in Texas Instruments Ltd, Bangalore. India