Indian companies lack empathy: Ratan Tata

The head of Tata Group, Mr.Ratan Tata says that Indian companies lack empathy as they layoff employees in these pandemic times. He also says that it is a knee-jerk reaction to layoff employees

Indian companies lack empathy: Ratan Tata

In an interview, Mr.Ratan Tata says that the top leadership of these companies does not have empathy for its employees. In his own words “These are the employees who worked for you. These are the people who have served you all their careers. You send them out to live in the rain. Is that your definition of ethics when you treat your labor force that way?”

This pandemic has brought several losses to the Tata group. But still, these companies did not layoff any of its employees. Across the nation, several companies fired their employees due to lack of revenue

However, the salaries of the top officials at the Tata company are cut by 20%. Almost all the Tata group companies belonging to Airlines, Hotels, Finances, have incurred several losses

But they did not fire any of their employees till now. Mr. Ratan Tata says that if the company is not sensitive to its people, it cannot survive.

He further says that while everyone is chasing profits, if you are not ethical to your employees, there is no point. Business is not always about making money. Sometimes it’s about being ethical to your own employees

He also says that the important thing right now is to not shy away from making difficult decisions.

Also, read: Zoom plans to open a technology center in Bangalore

Ratan Tata was asked about the thing he missed the most during this lockdown. His response was ” It’s not been yachts, manors, and huge estates. It’s been a wonderful experience of interacting with people who stand for the same ideas as you do… that’s something I’ve come to miss “

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Also, read: Uttarakhand CM writes to Sundar Pichai to invest in the state
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Layoffs of USCIS officials and reduction in hiring by US companies will impact Indian techies a lot

In the current situation, the US companies have reduced hiring to a greater extent. The officials who process visas are also being furloughed. Both these things can have adverse effects on the Indian techies who wants to go to the USA.

Previously, last week the American Federation of Government Employees which consists of 70,000 employees have pointed out that around 11,000 officials of USCIS will be part of the layoffs. Being a self-funded agency, the USCIS depends on the application fees for all its activities. The current fee schedule could bring an amount of $3.41 billion in the form of average annual revenue for USCIS, in FY20

An immigration lawyer said that if these layoffs indeed happen, this will delay the visa renewal process for people whose visas are set to expire in the near future.

Since the last decade, visa applications have consistently increased every year. This indicates the continued demand from the tech workers to go and work for US companies. In March 2020, the USCIS has received around 217,000 H1B-visa applications. In FY19, around 190,000 applications were received.

Every year around 65,000 H1B visas and 20,000 L1 visas are granted. This number includes the renewals as well. Also, the US government will give 60 days for the renewal of visas

USCIS have seen an increase in Visa applications each and every year since the last decade

With the widespread of coronavirus, most of the companies have stopped hiring. According to a survey by the US Labor Department, around 40 million Americans have lost jobs since March.

According to the 2016 census data, around 2.3 million immigrant workers are working in the US and 25% of them which is 5.75 lakh workers are from India. These people will be affected a lot if the extensions of visas are delayed.

In the worst-case scenario, for some of the individuals, it is taking 8-10 months for processing the visas. People are complaining that if these processing times increase further, the job vacancies will be filled by then.

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The government wants to build a rival to Zoom. Shortlists HCL, Zoho for the task

Indian government wants to develop a Made-in-India video conferencing software. For this, the government had shortlisted a few companies like HCL Technologies, Zoho Corp.

As part of this initiative, these companies will receive Rs.5 lakh from the government to create a prototype of the product. This is to rival existing Softwares like Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams. As part of the second round, the government is planning to select three startups from the list of 10 to continue developing the product.

The selected three startups will receive Rs.20 lakh to finish building the software. In the final round, one selected startup will finally deploy this solution to the state and central governments.

The companies which were selected along with HCL and Zoho are PeopleLink, Aria Telecom, CyberHorizon Corp, Instrive Softlabs, SoulPage IT solutions, Techgentsia Sofware Technologies, and Data Ingenious.

This new project is undertaken by the IT Ministry and launched by the government of India last month.

The government believes that having an Indian product can be a great advantage. It can be hosted locally and can be developed into all the languages of the country. Also, legally the government can store the recorded video in the country, without any legal obligations.

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Physical Meetings are a lot better than virtual meetings – Satya Nadella

In this current lockdown situation, almost every company is looking to implement or have already implemented work from home for its employees. But Satya Nadella believes that work from home in the long term will have a huge impact on the employee’s health. He said that this could affect social interactions and employees might get mental health issues as well.

He says that he prefers to have physical meetings rather than these virtual meetings. He insists that while during a physical meeting, you are talking to the actual person who sits next to you and you will be able to connect with them two minutes before and after.

Previously, Microsoft was one of the first companies to implement work from home to its employees during the initial stages of coronavirus spread. As per the latest news, Microsoft has asked its employees to continue working from home until at least December.

He also stresses out that there will be a loss of “social capital” if work from home is continued in the long term, for which there is no way to measure the amount lost. He also wants the companies to check on their employees regularly on burnout and mental health issues, etc.

However, Satya Nadella is keen on helping small organizations that have been hit hard by the corona lockdown. Also, Microsoft is one of the few companies to see an actual increase in their stock this year, which increased by 14%.

Previously, Twitter had announced that they are offering their employees to work from home as long as they want and are no restrictions to choose that. It has become the first company to announce the forever work from home option. Following this, payment giant Square also announced that their employees can take work from home indefinitely.

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Changes in Maternity leaves and work timings as WFH becomes a new norm for the IT industry

With the widespread of COVID, many changes have happened in the IT industry. Some are in favor of the employees, and some aren’t. The latest change to happen is for maternity leaves. According to human resource consulting firms, a complete overhaul might happen to the maternity leaves along with maternity benefits at workplaces offered by the company.

Firms are now evaluating not only just the leaves but are also re-considering the insurance policies, safe hours for calling, working hours, a suitable time to e-mail or contact the person, etc. All the work-related issues are now being considered for a change.

HR consulting firms believe that the change in the work culture, especially from offices to homes right now, companies will now try to understand how the liabilities are going to get affected. Chief Executive of Avantis Regtech has spoken about this, saying that Leave policies, number of official holidays, national holidays, number of hours of work, maternity benefits, and overtime calculation are some of the things expected to be changed as part of this overhaul. Also, he further added that the companies are now beginning to think about the long term implications of work from the home model which has become a new norm these days.

With the future uncertain due to this spread of the virus and multiple lockdowns, several companies have asked their employees to WFH at least till August. One of the tech giants of the country, TCS recently said that it expects at least 75% of its employees to permanently Work from home by 2025. With this announcement by TCS, multiple other tech companies in the country might follow this model, but not in those large amounts. NASSCOM has recently said that companies are now considering a phased approach of allowing only 15-20% of their employees in the offices until June.

If an employee works from home, the average spend on the employee by the organization which includes logistics, transportation, canteen, maintaining premises, etc will be reduced which accounts for 60-65% of the cost of the organization. With this much amount being saved if employees work from home, the organization can look to invest that money in other areas where the returns could be much higher or for the benefit of its employees.

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Jobs offers made to the graduates from IIMs, MDI, SPJIMR are revoked by Uber

The widespread of coronavirus has not only affected the salaried employees but also the graduates who are searching for a job on the job market. The current situation has become worse as the graduates who even got their offers from the companies are being rescinded.

Recently companies like Gartner, Work India have done the same thing of rescinding the offers already made to the graduates. Now it’s Uber who is canceling all the offers it made to the management students of Indian Institute of Management(IIM), Management Development Institute(MDI), and S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research(SPJIMR)

The company has already announced the layoffs in its offices across the globe. To this day, around 3700 Uber employees have lost their jobs. On May 13, the employees who are going to be laid off have received this message via a Zoom conference call.

Uber has also informed the management college’s placement heads regarding the revoking of the offers it made to its students. The students whose offers are rescinded are from IIM Lucknow, IIM Kozhikode, IIM Calcutta, MDI, SPJIMR

Along with Uber, several other companies also revoked the job offers made to the students. Now the future of these students is uncertain, as they were hoping to start their careers by securing a job offer that ultimately goes revoked. Most of the students have secured a job that pays above the average salary in the current placement season. Most of the companies which made offers to the students are multinational companies, tech majors, etc.

Recently, several recruiters are withdrawing at the last minute due to the lockdown situation. IIM Bangalore has already informed that it will be reaching out to the recruiters that are not part of the placement drive but showed interest in hiring their students.

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Anand Mahindra stresses the importance of a workplace

Due to the widespread of coronavirus, the government has imposed lockdown across the country. During this lockdown, the IT companies are continuing operations by allowing their employees to work from home. Almost 95% of employees in every company are working from home. In these times, the chairman of Mahindra Group has stressed the advantages of a dedicated workplace(like an office).

He said on Twitter that after the lockdown ends, most of the companies are planning to continue their employees to work from home but traditional workplaces will always remain the main form of work in the IT sector. He also added that most companies who are planning to ask their employees to work from home post COVID are concentrated on cutting the costs and increasing the revenue.

He further explained that the workplace will bring freedom from all the domestic hassles, especially for women. For them, being away from all the disturbances, it can help them innovate. He also said that social distancing and sanitation is more feasible in organized workplaces in developed countries.

He also feels that both in developed and developing countries, workplaces allow significant, informal interactions which are the source of innovation. He finally concluded by saying instead of taking a decision in a hurry and continuing work from operations, post-COVID, the companies should think carefully and ask the employees to work from the offices.

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Indian IT firms are planning to reduce the dependency of subcontractors to control costs

As the COVID-19 is causing problems with revenue and margins fo the firms, Indian IT firms like Infosys, Wipro, TCS, MindTree are looking to reduce their dependency on the subcontractors to control the costs. According to a statement, these companies said that the subcontractors’ cost might reduce in the upcoming months. As of now, around 10-15% of total employee costs will be the value of a subcontractor.

Over the last few years, the subcontractors’ cost has increased due to the fact that companies are preferring to look elsewhere to hire people instead of looking at the inhouse talent they have.

Mr. Milink Lakkad, the Global Head at TCS has said they are looking to reduce these subcontractors’ costs in order to keep the costs under control. He also added that they will continue to build the talent from within the organization and lateral hiring will be done in a limited manner.

Last year, 13% of employee cost is the value of subcontractors at TCS. At Wipro, it is 22%, while at Infosys it is 12%. The subcontractor’s value at MindTree is at 11% of total employee cost.

The Chief Human Resources head at Wipro has said that they are evaluating all the supply chain of employees which also includes hiring, subcontractors, bench. He also said that there are multiple contractors working with them and it is going to cost them. Hence they are looking to replace them with their own pool of employees.

Infosys CFO also addressed the same in cutting subcontractors’ cost to optimize the overall costs. MindTree is also looking to follow the same. These companies are cutting the subcontractor’s cost in multiple ways. One way is to reduce the number of contractors associated with them, other way is to ask the contractors to take rate cuts and the final way is to ask the contractors to take deferred payments.

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Employees of Gurugram might work from home till July

Gurugram metropolitan authority CEO and Haryana Additional Chief Secretary V.S.Kundu has said that all the Multinational companies, BPOs, and ITes companies should allow their employees to work from home until July.

Mr. Kundu is in charge of Covid-19 for the whole Gurugram district. This decision comes after PM Modi met with all the Cheif Ministers of the states to discuss the next steps to be taken to control the spread of the virus. As part of this meeting, several states have requested to prolong the lockdown with slight ease in the regulations. The second round of lockdown in the country ends with May 3rd.

In a statement, Mr. Kundu said that all the employees who have offices in Gurugram are advised to continue to work from home until July. He also asked the companies to make sure that most of their employees work from home. This might not be possible with the manufacturing companies but wherever it’s feasible, the companies should allow their employees to work from home.

Currently, the situation in Gurugram is that around 50% of the employees are allowed to work from the office, starting from April 21, according to the Union Home Ministry’s revised rules. Several companies in the Gurugram region are still adapting to a seamless work from a home model.

Several MNC’s like Infosys, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and several BPOs like Genpact, Convergys which work 24/7 with clients in Europe, Australia, USA has offices at Gurugram.

Recently, according to a Gartner survey, 74% of the companies are planning to allow their employees to work from home permanently even after the crisis is averted. Another survey states that 72% of the firms believe that this coronavirus effect will be there for at least 6 more months and most of them fear for the decrease in productivity due to work from home.

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Why these layoffs and pay cuts are not the permanent solution to tackle this pandemic situation

In these difficult times, people are involved in helping others in many different ways. Many are going out of their way to help society in this lockdown. If only people can do this much, everyone expects the organizations to do more. One thing the companies should understand is that this is the time for empathy and understanding. The firms should actively invest, and innovate.

In order for the companies to fully operate in these dire situations, they need their complete support from their employees. Hence organizations should also think that layoffs and job cuts are not the only solutions to tackle this situation. Those are not permanent fixes. The companies put more pressure on the employees in addition to the corona situation, if these job cuts are made. They should invest in their employees for betterment.

Companies should think of different scenarios to support their employees. They should set up training courses for their employees which they couldn’t learn previously due to the hectic schedule. Already some of the companies made these training videos and learning lectures free of cost to encourage their employees.

Firms should also look into the option of giving some free time for their employees to spend this valuable time with their families. They should make efforts in making this situation a good one for their employees. Some of the different ways to do this are to ask their employees to share their stories/memorable events with their families on the company’s page. This might increase the morale of the employees and bring out sense of joy.

Firms should also let employees share their insights and experience of working from home and try to improve it. Companies should also constantly check on the health of their employees and how they coping up in this current scenario. The firms should take the example of the honorable Prime Minister Modi. If he can connect with all the citizens of the nation regularly, firms can also do the same with their employees.

Companies should also motivate their employees to do something for the community and encourage them by giving enough recognition or prizes of some sort. The heads of organizations should feel responsible in making their employees feel motivated.

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