Sunday, July 19, 2009

Meltdown makes Indian firms smarter

A dramatic meltdown after boom years globally has made Indian firms smarter in employee engagement and talent management, which will help it grow faster when recovery begins, predicts a study by global consulting firm Deloitte.

"Indian companies across sectors are trying to make the best of tough times and preparing for growth opportunities when the economy picks up. Unlike in the West where firing is the norm, our study shows Indian firms are focussing on talent management and cost cutting," Deloitte director P. Thiruvengadam told IANS.

A cross-industry dipstick survey on employee engagement in recessionary times by Deloitte's human capital advisory services found Indian firms were in a wait-and-watch mode without retrenching, but trying to balance both employee and operational costs.

Of the 130 firms approached for the survey, 65 participated, including 22 multinationals.

"Companies are focussing on their ability to attract, develop and retain top talent to remain viable and competitive in the short and long terms. Though campus offers have trickled down, selective hiring is taking place. Employees are being involved in cost management, quality and client servicing," Thiruvengadam said quoting the findings.

Of the participant firms, 44 percent represented TMT (technology, media and telecom), 27 percent manufacturing, seven percent FMCG (fast moving consumer goods), five percent pharma and 27 percent others.

The study found companies implementing metrics to determine return on investment on human resources. Investment in proprietary knowledge and technological upgrade is continuing, albeit slower than during the boom times.

"Lower attrition has turned out to be a boon, as firms are able to retain talent by setting higher performance benchmarks, with stringent measures and quarterly monitoring. By recruiting consultants and freelancers, firms are able to save on employee benefit costs," Thiruvengadam said.

The eight-week survey said companies were substituting lucrative bonus and international travel with opportunities for advancement and flexible working hours to retain employees.

"Smart firms have turned inward, consolidating operations, rationalising requirements and optimising resources to ride the slowdown," Thiruvengadam said.

The survey also found companies were not cutting back on training programmes but only reducing training costs. The focus is on empowering employees with multi-skills to handle different tasks and building a strong leadership pipeline.

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