The great IT resignation

The great IT resignation

IT companies in India are scrambling to hire and retain software professionals, even as thousands are quitting their jobs. Istock image

The Covid pandemic has altered the dynamics of the job market, with a large number of layoffs across sectors taking place over the past two years. But it looks like the Indian IT industry has not faced the heat compared to other sectors.

For instance, there is an overwhelming demand for skilled software professionals.

At the same time, most IT companies in India are having a hard time retaining candidates, or even hiring people to fill up vacant positions. Many employers have released offer letters with hikes of 100% or even more, but are still struggling with onboarding people.

Several IT companies — big and small — say their offer rejection by candidates is nearly 80%. 

“Compensation is certainly a deciding factor,” says Jayasheela K G, HR Head of a Bengaluru-based IT Communications company.

But is there something deeper at play? Has the prolonged lockdown given people time to reflect on their long-term career choices?

For instance, getting employees back into the office has become a major challenge for many IT organisations, with many workers being reluctant to come back to the workspace. Others expect a hybrid workspace — where they come into the office twice or thrice a week — to continue into the near future. 

“Nobody likes travelling to Bellandur,” says Neeta Prabhu, who has been working at an IT company in Bengaluru for more than five years.

“I expect hybrid to continue because it makes it easy for both the company and me. The company saves cost on rental space and I don’t have to spend 3 hours travelling every day. One can also save costs by renting in suburban areas instead of these IT hubs,” she says. 

On the other hand, Prashida Ghosh, a software engineer, says she prefers a hybrid workplace.

“I found it very difficult to understand the work process, which is crucial for a software tester,” she says. 

"After many rounds of repeated video discussions, I have an idea of the workflow. Though there is a tremendous improvement in my work-life balance, I would rather go for a hybrid work mode, only to get the hang of the process,” Prashida adds. 

Working remotely has also opened up new horizons for most IT professionals.

Remote or virtual hiring has left many software engineers with multiple offers to choose from. This means that candidates with critical skill sets are free to take up jobs without being limited by geography.

Pan-India search

Companies too are looking for talent across the country, which means a greater competition to retain well-performing employees.

An HR at a top German MNC revealed that the organisation has more than 5,000 vacancies across various verticals.

Now, IT companies are working on larger employee retention strategies. This means going beyond compensation to offer better perks on the job. 

“We are doing our best to hire and retain the best talent by offering them
more CTC, joining bonuses to the candidates who can join immediately, offering role changes, change of designation and the like,” says Mahendra Prasad D, General Manager of a Chennai-based anti-virus software company.

“At the time of the interview, the candidates decline to further the discussion if asked whether they are open to work from the office,” says Prasad.

Another reputed semiconductor company based out of Mumbai is unable to hire candidates despite offering prospective candidates whatever salary they ask for. 

Why?

Because the job requires the candidate to work on-site at their lab in Mumbai at least twice a week. 

Working from home has also sparked new conversations about work-life balance. Employees who lived in big cities for work saw the pandemic as an opportunity to go back to their hometown and spend time with their families.

There was a practical side to the decision as well — many people made substantial savings on rent and transportation.

Another unspoken aspect of the Indian IT sector’s “Great resignation” is that many workers have started to retire at an early age, or have decided to quit full-time employment altogether.

There are several stories of IT professionals pursuing their hobbies and passion, like organic farming, a trend which seems to have accelerated of late. 

“I was interested in agriculture from the beginning,” says 30-year-old Mahendra, who has moved back to his home in Maddur. “I thought it was the right time to go back to my dream of moving into organic farming while working on projects as a consultant. It allows me to work at my leisure while following my dream,” he says.

Others are happy to work as freelancers, taking up projects that interest them. All said, there’s a great churn in India’s IT sector, and it doesn’t seem like it is going to end anytime soon.  

(The author is an HR professional and wildlife conservation enthusiast)