In FY 12, the IT industry was a victim of global fears of slowdown which surely had its impact on the HR scene in Indian IT companies. But this year’s DQ-CMR Best Employer Survey is very different since it does not put all companies in one framework. It classifies employers in two categories based on employee strength-Top IT Employers (employing) below 2,000 and Top IT Employers (employing) above 2,000. Similarly parameters set for both categories speak of different facts. Like every year our story begins with the attrition rate in the industry which has a direct co-relation to the health of Indian IT. Higher attrition rates clearly indicates good signs for Indian IT while low attrition rate is not seen as a good sign. However, this year’s classification of companies into two groups speak of a different story.
The findings of the DQ-CMR Best Employer Survey 2012 (BES 2012) brings forth an altogether different picture-while attrition fell to an understandable 13% in comÂpanies with 2,000+ employees, it continued to worry companies with less than 2,000 employees at 19%. Thus, 19% attrition rate does not give a slowdown picture but 13% does. It is however not difficult to estimate that a bigger chunk of peoÂple is hired by the IT companies and any change in their financial health creates ripples in the industry.
While this was the scene, it did not give HR managers a breathÂing space, particularly because the demand for qualitative workforce in the industry was higher than before. Pressure on companies to deliver better services forced HR managers to hire experienced and technically-sound people. At the same time, retaining the existing one added to the exertion. Giving example of the talent sturggle, an HR head of an IT company said, “Hiring people with expertise and experience has been the biggest challenge in the IT inÂdustry. In a squeezed industry where budgets are down, it is difficult to handle high salary demands of new or prospective employees.”
As said, the performance of IT comÂpanies on the attrition front was one of the significant parameters in the BES 2012, not only because it is an important indicator of the health of the IT industry but because it is an important indicator of a company’s seriousness towards its employees. The frequency at which employees are leaving the company is a sure-shot formula for rating a company’s HR trends.
The attrition rate measured is based on the employees in any organization from April 2011 to March 2012. Change of guard even at senior level was well perceived in the industry. The companies which encountered the highest levels of attrition in the 2,000+ category included Aricent Group (#1), CyÂbage Software (#2), Tulip (3#) and Virtusa (4#), etc whereas in the ‘till 2,000′ category the companies which recorded the higher levels of attrition included Four Soft (1#), Infrasoft Technologies (#2), Choice Solutions (#3), Synygy India (#4), Digital Group Infotech (#5)and Theorem India (#6), etc. Hence for these companies managing attrition was a task to reckon with. The comÂpanies like iGATE, Sasken, Rolta India, Synechron Technologies and Zensar in the 2,000+ category and companies like Omnitech, Fulcrum Worldwide Software, CA TechnoloÂgies, R Systems and SPAN Infotec in the till 2,000 category handled their workforce challenges efficiently thereby experiencing the least atÂtrition. They ably and persuasively showed value to their employees, handled salary as well as work flexÂibility issues.
While good times are a test for an employee’s commitments to the company, the not-so-good times are a test of the company’s commitment to its employees. We tried to gauge the employees’ and HR scores of respective companies. Unlike the previous years, the survey outlines a growth in both HR and employee scores which is an encouraging fact. Employee scores that influenced the rankings largely, however, speak of the attention paid to them.
Declaring the Winners
As stated already, the BES 2012 is different, in the sense that it has two winners this year. The practice to categorize companies into two sets is intended to help players in improving their employee-related practices, according to their sizes, to compete in future best employer surveys. But to put winners in the row was not an easy task. There were a number of parameters which the companies had to measure on. While employee and HR scores determine the fate of the employÂers, the role of other parameters like gender inclusivity, training, appraisÂal, company culture, people, job content and attrition and retention rate play a major role in deciding the best employers.
The Best Employer Survey 2012, having been categorized into two sets, shows a change of rankings when compared to last year. In both sections, we see quite a many old names which shows the competiÂtiveness among companies to vie for the coveted place in the top list. In both the categories, it has been our endeavor to feature as many companies as we could but the final decision was to throw the spotlight on the top 10 companies in each category. iGATE, which was number 3 last year, emerged as the #1 in the 2,000+ category followed by Rolta and Cisco at #2 and #3. Cisco was a new participant in the list this year. HCL Infosystems was toppled to the #4 place from #1 last year. Perhaps because of a reshuffle going on in the company in terms of busiÂness strategy. While at iGATE it was more satisfying for employees to see Patni merge with iGATE smoothly. Certainly it brought uniformity into the HR processes within the comÂpany contributing to its position in the eyes of employees.
In the < 2,000 category, CA Technologies occupied the top seat followed by Tavant and AGC. CA Technologies was at #3 last year in the overall BES ranking, which speaks of its high and competiÂtive HR practices that challenged companies with volume employee-base. Similarly Tavant, that stood at #5 last year grabbed the #2 place. But obviously it brought companies like AGC and Synygy into competiÂtion which would score low amid bigger players. AGC and Synygy which ranked #25 and #27 last year have managed to clinch the #3 and #4 spot respectively. Thus, our categorization is more in the side of recognizing the HR practices of companies with smaller employee-base.
Pride in Parameters
Job content is a significant paramÂeter that plays a huge role in retainÂing employees in any company. On this parameter, In the 2,000+ category, iGATE, Rolta, HCL InfoÂsystems and NIIT Tech scored high. In the < 2,000 category, Tavant, Synygy, AGC and R Systems scored higher.
When it comes to gender incluÂsivity, it showed a slightly improved picture over last year. But it is not a proud moment, since it is more or less at the same level. Among all companies, Rolta tops the chart folÂlowed by iGATE, HCL and Virtusa in the gender inclusivity race. In the < 2,000 category, Synygy, Tavant, Pitney Bowes and Nagarro scored higher. The general fact which has emerged is that companies are not really differentiating their workforce in male-female ratio. They rather hire people to handle particular workloads.
Also, a look at other parameters like training, salary, appraisal, etc shows that companies ranked top in the overall list have also scored high on these parameters. iGATE, Rolta, NIIT Tech, HCL Infosystems, among others have competed closely on these parameters.
Also there is sense of caution and precaution among companies when it comes to managing slowdown. Lessons learnt from the 2008-9 recession are playing a major role in managing of slowdown. EmployÂees ranked Rolta, iGATE, ADP and Synechron higher when it comes to managing slowdown. The recruiters refrained from blind hiring and emÂbarked on utilizing their workforce in the best possible way to counter the challenge of slowdown.
Striking a Fine Balance
The findings further underline quite a few interesting facts as to why employees rate their companies high on certain parameters. To gauge that fact, we gathered feedback on cerÂtain points from employees and tried to figure out what makes a company a best employer. Flexibility of ofÂfice hours/ balancing of social life, transparent policies and procedures, proper communication channel, employee welfare policies & activiÂties, positive work environment, job security/stability, and focused leadÂership & management were some of the points that influenced employee decision. Employees ranked comÂpanies on these parameters for ideal company to work for.
The points are indicative of how employees weigh job security and balance social life while choosing an employer. Blind pursuit of jobs seems to have taken a back seat.
The slowdown that hit in 2008 continues to play hide-and-seek, keeping IT companies on their toes. Companies did not add to their workforce with blind numbers, since the business sentiment was affected heavily. Employers who had handed over offer letters to students continued to delay hiring. In short, the hiring sentiment was weak in the industry. But it did not hurt the employer sentiment in terms of sending a good employer image into the market. The overwhelming participation in DQ-CMR BES 2012 is a proof of that.
Similarly, employees have also started thinking twice before hopÂping to another job. Employees pay much attention to a company’s capability to handle tough times. HR managers faced problems in terms of getting talent for specialist jobs, such as architects. If HR heads are to be believed, the time was not so good for hiring for key positions. Budget pressure and lack of talent in the industry added to the slowÂdown pangs.
The Final Word
Broadly, the survey took into conÂsideration various other parameters and ranked companies based on the scores earned on them. The DQ-CRM BES 2012 has endeavored to justify the results in a rational way. It will work as a benchmark for comÂpanies on their respective employee strength. The top employers in both the categories are there because others have missed or lagged behind in capability. Many companies like Nagarro, Broadridge Financial Solutions, Infrasoft, DST Worldwide Services have competed signifiÂcantly on many parameters. These companies are emerging at known places to work for. But the survey opens doors for their improved HR and employee standards.
While Nagarro earned a respect able place in the overall ranking, previous year’s entrant Mahindra Satyam was out of the picture. Likewise the entry of Cisco Systems toughened the competition.
In short, the industry may have shown caution while hiring but the hunt for key people was on more than ever before. Demand for experienced and technically sound people was never down, since comÂpanies emphasized more on innovaÂtion and execution. But it was a year of balance when employees as well as companies struggled to get their desires fulfilled.
The survey was designed and carried out in two phases. In the first phase, HR questionnaires were sent to around 200 IT companies. These spanned systems to software companies, both domestic and exports players. The questionnaire sought information on areas such as employee strength, salary structure, training days, tenure of top management, etc. In order to achieve balance and better coverage, we have decided to have two top 20 list fist for employee base less then 2,000 and second for employee base more than 2,000. Of the 200 companies, 47 companies participated in the first phase. Out of these, all 47 companies were then short listed for the second round, that is, the employee survey based on the following parameters:
n Total employee size: Hardware, Software and Marketing IT professionals in India only, as on April 01, 2012. This did not include either back-end employees or employees posted outside India.
n Average tenure of senior management (GM level and above): The tenure figure was factored by the age of the company to remove any discrepancies that may have arisen between old and relatively new companies
n Total average training: Included the entire gamut from induction and technical to soft skills and others. The data was weighted on the total Hardware, Software and Marketing IT professionals in the company.
n Retention rate: Share of employees (at least three months-old in the company) who were still with the company on March 31, 2012
n Average salary hike (in percentage): The first shortlist of companies was based on these above parameters, which were given different weights based on their relative importance. In the second phase, a large-scale survey was conducted by CMR India amongst 4285 employees of the 47 short listed companies, across the country. However during the second phase, four companies didn’t participate and so we conducted the survey within 45 companies. The sampling was done on the basis of the distribution of employees in different cities. The employee survey comprised a self-administered questionnaire as the instrument with employees at different levels. This questionnaire included 73 statements under different broad parameters-Composite Satisfaction, Company Culture, Job Content/Growth, Training, Salary & Compensation, Appraisal Systems, People, Gender Inclusivity and Managing the slowdown. Employees were asked to rate each of the statements on a 10-point agreement scale. The respondents filled-in their opinions on the questionnaire in the presence of CMR’s trained Interviewers and Supervisors.
Other than the above parameters, employees were also asked about their salary structure, preferred company in the industry, etc. The Employee Satisfaction survey covered seven major cities-Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore. In each city, the sample quota was assigned based on the company’s employee strength in that city. A further classification of employees was done on the basis of job profile (Hardware, Software and Marketing ), years of IT experience (less than 2 years, 2-5 years, 5-10 years and more than 10 years) and gender ratio. This quota system was followed strictly to get a proper representation of different types of employees in the sample. In order to retain objectivity, every attempt was made to take on an unbiased sample and to ensure that the management of the company did not influence the selection of respondents (employees) or their responses.\
Scores from the HR survey and the Employee Satisfaction survey, calculated separately, were combined to arrive at a composite score. Companies were then given ranks based on the composite scores.
The HR score of the selected 38 companies was calculated based on various parameters, indexed and weighted on a total score of 100. The parameters used were-Total Employee Size; Average Tenure (years); Total Average Training; Retention Rate; and Average Salary Hike (%).
The Employee survey score was calculated based on 12 parameters, which was also weighted and indexed on a total score of 100. The eleven parameters used in this case- Overall Satisfaction score; Composite Satisfaction (Company Image); Company Culture; Job Content/Growth; Training; Salary and Compensation; Appraisal System; People; Preferred Company (Internal: Percentage of respondents of a company who said their own company was the preferred one); Dream Company (Industry: Percentage of respondents in the total sample who preferred a particular company), Gender Inclusivity and Managing the slowdown.
The scores on the above parameters like Company Image, Company Culture, Job content / Growth, Training, Salary & Compensation, Appraisal System, People, Gender Inclusivity and managing the slowdown were calculated on the basis of number of statements under each of these parameters. A correlation analysis was run between overall satisfaction and statements across all these broad parameters. It gave us the dependency of the dependent variable (Overall Satisfaction) on each of these statements, which, in turn, provided the weights of each of the statements. The weighted average of the individual scores of statements gave us the scores at each of these broad parameters level, and these were used for the final ranking.
The HR and Employee Satisfaction score was weighted and indexed on a 100-point score to arrive at DQ-CMR BES score. Dataquest and CMR India decided the weights for all parameters in consultation with HR experts from the Industry, and these were used in the survey analysis. The weights were finalized before the survey, to ensure complete unbiased ranking.
Methodology by Suman Dutta and Poonam, CMR India