16 December, 2004

Might is right -The Hindu Business Line
The operative word is poach. Much like the food chain, where the small are gobbled up by the large, and the large by the larger, IT firms are fighting it dirty in the talent pool... "Nobody can stop these guys," says the HR manager. "Small firms are the sufferers, losing good people to larger firms even before they (employees) can settle down in the company," he says. He has this to say about attrition: "Don't talk about it. It is unmanageable. Losing people is routine in small firms, and if nobody leaves on a day, it is celebration time."

Some employees quit for frivolous reasons. For instance, a project leader quit this small company because his parents happened to remark that many software professionals of his age in their neighbourhood had gone abroad while he hadn't. So he quit his company and joined a bigger one in the hope of an overseas trip after a few months. Employee attrition, a big cause for concern for small software firms, ranges between 15 per cent and 20 per cent.

"Small software companies are today a good place for big players to poach on trained employees. We sow the seeds, and they (the big players) enjoy the fruits," says the HR manager. Then how do these small firms attract and retain people? "It is like a food chain. As big players poach on our employees, we poach on smaller firms and start-ups. We also poach on computer operators from non-software firms and groom them into software professionals with a few months of training. Also, the larger players have two factors in their favour — brand name, and, in most cases, an office in Bangalore. Both are difficult to compete with." he says.

While a certain percentage of manpower turnover is desirable to keep fresh blood coming in, and removing dead wood, higher percentages are definitely not good indicators of an organisation's culture and people practices. The concept of `bench' (employees without a project) is almost alien to smaller firms. Here, talented people get spotted faster, are nurtured better, and become important team members faster. This, often, makes ordinary people perform extraordinary work. And since, despite the extraordinary work, they do not have deep pockets, they are susceptible to migration.

Some small companies service very demanding and discerning clients who expect nothing but the best of talent. This is something that even larger companies do not insist on, at times. Many a time, there is migration from bigger companies to smaller companies too, mainly because of the prestige associated with a certain project or a particular client. Contrary to popular perception, several small IT companies are, in some cases, even better paymasters than larger brands.

No comments: