2015 seems like an uncertain year for the retrenched employees of TCS. This isn’t the first time that Tata Consultancy Services, India’s largest software exporter has laid off its employees. But this layoff is also happening in the age of social media. The disgruntled employees, mostly with work experience of over 7 years, are taking to social media to voice their protest. The mass layoffs have triggered a Facebook page called ‘We are against TCS layoff’ and an audio clip of a secretly recorded exit interview.
Since December, the IT firm has been fighting off rumours on mass layoffs amounting to nearly 25,000 employees. The layoffs that have started off are mostly at the mid-management level and sacked employees aren’t happy with the reason being given for their termination.
When NDTV contacted the IT firm, a senior official from TCS had then stated that only ‘non-performers’ are being asked to go attributing the layoffs to involuntary attrition following workforce optimization.
“Workforce optimisation is a continuous process and this leads to some amount of involuntary attrition…there is nothing out of the ordinary. Only 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent of employees will be impacted,” he said. As of September 30, 2014, TCS employed 3.10 lakh people.
On the one hand, TCS is hiring freshers, while on the other, it is skimming off mid-level employees who have given their best years to the IT firm. While some have been recalled from offshore projects, others have been receiving termination letters with no concrete reason of termination. They are being offered a month’s notice, in which they need not come to work, as well as two months’ of gross salary as severance pay.
Sacked employees claim to be ‘good’ performers
The forum for IT Employees (F.I.T.E) has started a Facebook community called ‘We are against TCS layoff’ where it is urging TCSers who have been terminated or expecting it, to come forward with their stories. The forum that aims to stop the TCS layoffs, has found 15K+ fans.
As per a recent post on the FB page, F.I.T.E has arranged an expert panel discussion today titled, “Fact Finding on TCS LayOff & Broader Labour Implications”. The distinguished members of the panel include professors from MIDS, IIT, a software professional-cum-labour rights activist and a senior journalist. The fact finding exercise will hopefully throw some light on the truth behind these layoffs.
Many employee stories have come to the fore including an audio clip uploaded on soundcoud. The clip recorded secretly by a female employee in Chennai reveals some contradicting facts on the layoff. An HR official is heard telling the employee that she is not being branded as an “underperfomer”, but goes on to say that “performance rating, scalability to next role and skill sets” are some of the reasons for her layoff.
“We would like to retain our As and Bs… they have done more than the guys who have got a C,” the HR manager is heard telling the employee, who had notched successive “C” ratings (‘meets expectations’) in her appraisals. The link to the audio clip is available here.
Many other laid off employees have shared their stories too – most of which speak of consistent good performance.
Maintaining the pyramid
Analysts call the layoffs fair in order for the company to maintain the pyramid. While the number of employees at the bottom of the pyramid in the IT industry has gone down over the years because of slowing growth, employees at the mid and top level swelled as the average age of employees rose. This skewed pyramid leads to skimming off more experienced employees and hiring freshers.
The fear of attrition has caused many IT companies to offer promotions at the cost of capability and maturity. Former Infosys director TV Mohandas Pai in an interview to The News Minute reasoned, “With growth rates down, in the teens, obviously the model needs to change. Many in the middle in the 10-15 year experience band would be redundant and very high cost.”
In the audio clip, the HR manager also makes a mention of the pyramid. “Everyone is supposed to ensure that pyramid has to be made,” he is heard saying.
TCS is yet to comment on the layoffs. NDTV reports that the TCS management is likely to comment on the issue on January 15, when the company will report its December quarter earnings. NASSCOM, the National Association of Software and Services Companies, has reassured that nothing unusual or extraordinary has occurred at TCS.
Speaking to Moneycontrol, R Chandrashekhar, President, Nasscom said, “If there is something, which needs attention in a particular company, I’m sure that, that company will address that.” The TCS stocks haven’t been affected too.
Image credit: We are against TCS layoff Facebook