COVID has significantly changed the way we work in the IT industry. It caused such a mental shift in people that going back to old habits is no longer an option. Our work culture and office culture as a whole had to evolve to accommodate the new standard of productivity. I would not be exaggerating if I said around 20% of our employees have not seen the offices and colleagues in person, which is an engagement nightmare for HR and managers. Changing a job became as easy as logging into a different company laptop!
Post Covid, as growth picked up in all sectors, like most other companies, we, at Tietoevry India, also resumed investments in expanding our business and hiring new talent. Attrition had become an industry challenge as a result of high talent demand (I should say talent war), with all major IT companies struggling to retain their key talent. We also saw a spike in attrition, especially in key skills like Salesforce, SAP HANA, ServiceNow, full-stack developers, React JS, Cloud Infra Technologies, Angular JS, and Android developers.
Good people often had more than one offer at any given time because there were so many opportunities for them. During this time, we saw the joining ratios of offered candidates plummet to nightmarish proportions.
Rebuilding the organisation
It was a three-pronged approach that helped us keep our heads above water:
- New work model
We rediscovered our agility and resilience as a workforce as we moved from 100% “work from office” (WFO) to 100% “work from home” (WFH) in 2020, when Covid struck. Then, by the end of 2021, after careful deliberations about the ‘future of work’, we adopted a hybrid work model that balances employee aspirations in terms of flexibility and business requirements while aligning with SEZ and government regulations. The hybrid model was fully adopted by our company in early 2022.
Our new work model is not just about shifting from earlier ways of working but about adopting a whole new work culture. In this case, the main goal of HR was to make sure that employees, managers, and customers all continue to have the same level of trust in one another.
- Proactive retention strategy
We were able to bring our attrition rate down by around 10% over a period of nine months. This was possible because the company changed from a reactive to a proactive retention strategy. We found the skills that were in high demand and hired more people to make sure there was a steady stream of talent. We proactively switched from “exit” to “stay” interviews. We conducted multiple employee engagement surveys and took corrective actions proactively. We devised a retention bonus model for high-risk employee categories.
- Renewed employee focus
While employee well-being was a priority for us even earlier, the shift that happened was that from being a ‘good-to-have’ initiative, it evolved into a ‘social contract concept’ with employees. This means that employee wellness is now at the centre of many business decisions that we take.
To communicate with the very last remote worker, we completely redesigned our employee engagement strategy. We provided our employees with increased flexibility in choosing their work location. We have introduced many new initiatives for proactively rewarding and recognizing employees. We introduced a ‘Higher Education Assistance Program’ to provide our employees the opportunity to pursue virtual higher education while on the job. We also revamped our long service awards to further reward longevity in the company. We also started a formal program called ‘Comebackers’ to attract many former employees who returned to Tietoevry.
In 2022, we made many changes in key areas that helped improve HR effectiveness.
Hiring and Onboarding
We had a steady flow of hires throughout the year. We closed 2022 with around 2000 total joiners and an overall joining ratio of around 60%. A few hiring practices we adopted this year included:
- Offered joining bonus for niche skills and for critical hires.
- Virtual onboarding is conducted for our new joiners, in addition to welcoming them into offices to enhance their joining experience.
- Revamped our employee referral program with an aim to make referrals our top source of hiring, while also ensuring a better joining ratio. While around one-third is from referrals, Joining ratios are better by around 30-40% as compared to other sources.
- ‘Return to work’ initiative launched to attract potential candidates who were on a career break.
- Comebackers program to welcome back former employees.
- Published a bouquet of offerings from the TA team that helped in accelerated hiring in the virtual world.
Employee Wellness and Engagement
Last year, we offered a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to our employees in collaboration with an external partner. This year, we are launching a holistic wellness platform that will focus on the physical, emotional, mental, and financial wellness of our employees.
Rewards and recognition play a vital role in keeping employees motivated. This year we monetized some of our employee awards and revamped our ‘Staunch Awards’, which recognize achieving milestones and completing long tenures in the company. Both these changes have received an overwhelming response across all our sites.
We were able to bring our attrition rate down by around 10% over a period of nine months. This was possible because the company changed from a reactive to a proactive retention strategy. We found the skills that were in high demand and hired more people to make sure there was a steady stream of talent. We proactively switched from “exit” to “stay” interviews.
Compensation and Benefit
On the payroll front, we brought in many big and small process improvements this year. We have various one-time payment schemes like “retention bonuses,” off-cycle salary corrections, and long-term incentives, to name a few.
Learning and Development
- We rolled-out a Talent Mapping Tool developed in-house.
- We conducted the LEAD (Leadership Excellence Accreditation & Development) program for senior leaders and Groom Potential Women Leadership program for our women colleagues.
- We launched the CURE program which focuses on Cross Skilling, Up-Skilling and Re-Skilling.
Employee Referral programs
- A focused referral campaign (Rocking Referral Bonus “RRR”) and referral bonanza for niche skills with accelerated bonuses were launched to reduce offer dropouts.
- A ‘Follow me’ campaign for inviting referrals from new joiners with accelerated bonuses was also run.
What happens in 2023?
2023 would be a year of digital skills and new-age technologies in cloud computing, AI, and data. Working from anywhere will become a reality. This would be another significant step towards the flat-world paradigm.
Businesses that can provide more opportunities for employees to learn and grow will be able to retain employees better. Cost management, as always, would be critical. Certain sectors would see tremendous opportunities, while some sectors would have a challenging year in 2023. Diversification is key. Companies that have a diverse customer base across sectors will ride the wave better.
Tips for jobseekers
The overall demand for technical skills is increasing; however, technology evolves very quickly. Learnability is the key since many technologies have a shorter shelf life than before. Full-stack developers, data scientists, and engineers would be in demand. While hybrid ways of working provide a lot of flexibility, they also put the onus on employees to be more mature and credible in handling the newfound flexibility.
Prepping for business cycles of hiring and slowdowns in 2023
Hiring peaks and slowdowns are inherent to our business model. The first step is to accept that reality. Building a fungible workforce through cross-skilling and up-skilling is key to talent management. Gig workers would become more common in IT. Data security and management will then become even more critical. Some of the predicted global economic challenges in 2023 would also mean more potential offshoring.
Author: Vinu Sekhar is an Executive Vice President and India HR head with Tietoevry. He has around 29 years of industry experience, predominantly in the IT sector. Before joining Tietoevry, Vinu worked for Infosys for over 17 years in various capacities in HR and Business.
Registered name: Tieto India Private Limited and EVRY India Private Limited (Both are part of the group company ‘Tietoevry’, and we collectively refer to them as ‘Tietoevry India’)
Year of Incorporation: 1968 in Finland
Number of Employees: ~5000 (in India); ~24000 (global)
Key Executives: Rajnish Mohan, Managing Director and Country Manager, Tietoevry India
Vinu Sekhar, Executive Vice President and HR Head, Tietoevry India
Business Line: Tietoevry, through its six specialized services and software businesses, creates purposeful technology that reinvents the world for good.
Workforce Growth: 19.71%
Workforce Pie: Tietoevry Create (27%), Tietoevry Transform (29%), Tietoevry Connect (11%), Tietoevry Industry (6%), Tietoevry Care (7%), Tietoevry Banking (19%) and Support Functions (1%).
Key HR Factor:
-Our diversity hiring is at 34% and employee referral hire is 31%
-We have a customizable and agile hybrid work model which is driven by our various businesses.