by July 2, 2007 0 comments

Success demands dynamism. That’s why all successful teams have dynamic
leaders. A leader with vision and fortitude to propel the team through turbulent
times. But what good is a leader without an equally dynamic and responsive group
of people. All this is utopian to even think of in modern-day enterprises,
pressed as they are with changing business dynamics, technology and the ever
compressing global community. Today, leave alone dynamicism, even retaining an
efficient, stable IT team in an organization is a key issue for CIOs. Due to
high attrition in IT, retaining talented manpower for projects is becoming a
major cause of headaches for CIOs. So, what are the reasons for this volatility?
Money is certainly not the primary reason, ’cause most organizations, in spite
of paying employees according to current industry standards, are still facing
similar issues. And this concern is shared by CIOs across all verticals. In this
story we try to find out answers to this and understand all issues related to
manpower management. We shall also focus on how we can find and retain the right
manpower for IT infrastructure team management? What’s more we shall also
discuss measures organizations are taking to reduce manpower attrition. A point
that comes strongly across is that apart from good salaries, you need to explore innovative schemes to keep employees on board.
So, what measures can one take to combat/ease the stress in an IT team that
often works at odd hours, under severe work pressure? What are the measures you
can take to ensure work doesn’t get disrupted, if a member of your IT team

To find answers to the above questions we conducted an online survey to
understand what concerns key CIOs across the country had on this issue. In this
story, we also throw some light on the best practices they follow to tackle this
complex issue. In our survey, we segregated this issue into a series of concerns
that covered various stages of this problem. Around 42% of the respondents
confirmed that getting right IT manpower for the IT department is one of the
toughest jobs while recruiting manpower for their IT department. When asked
about the size of their IT teams, 34 % of the respondents said that they have 11
to 30 members in their IT team whereas another 25 % of the respondents had a
strength of 50+ people working in their IT teams, and only 11 % claimed that
they have IT teams of less than 10 people. By and large most of the IT teams are
maintained in-house, but due to the scarcity of skilled IT manpower, CIOs are
now looking forward to outsourcing IT infrastructure management. According to
the survey, 57% respondents still rely on in-house IT teams while 26% of the
respondents said that they maintain in house and outsourced teams in equal
proportions. Interestingly, only 11 % of the respondents said that they have
completely outsourced their IT infrastructure management.


Hurdles in recruiting IT manpower
Recruiting professionals in the IT department is not an easy task for a CIO.
Around 45 % of respondents said that paying competitive salaries is their
biggest hurdle while 28% said that lack of quality manpower is the biggest
hurdle. Only 5% blamed top management for their woes, reasons varying from an
insufficient HR department to time consuming procedures in getting requisite
sanctions. We found that most organizations need IT professionals who have
multi-tasking skills with desired experience on the latest technologies.
However, such kind of manpower is rarely found.

Catch ’em young
With rising business costs most organizations prefer recruiting fresh
manpower from colleges. This way they avoid paying exorbitant salaries to
experienced professionals. Moreover, freshers can be easily moulded into roles
that an organization wants them to play. We found that 34 % of our respondents
recruit fresh candidates from campus interviews and the remaining 66 % said that
they do not prefer hiring fresh talent.

Each system
is well documented and there is a well documented methodology of handing
over the charge to the new employee. Work does not get affected due to
employee attrition.
Jyoti Bandopadhyay
VP-IT, Torrent Pharmaceuticals

The attrition rate of IT manpower is the highest in BPOs. This is mainly
because people working in BPOs in technical positions have very limited growth.
These people are generally recruited to give technical assistance to their
clients through voice or Web based processes. On the other hand, verticals such
as manufacturing, education, BFSI and IT have lower attrition rates. Around 37 %
of the respondents said that they have only 10% attrition rate while another 22%
acknowledged that attrition rate in their companies is around 20%. On the other
hand 8% of respondents said that they have an attrition rate of 40% annually,
most of these belong to BPO companies. Clearly, BPOs are worst hit by attrition.
As regards retrenchment, only 8% of respondents admitted that they have in past
asked their IT people to leave while a mammoth 91 % of respondents have never
asked for retrenchment so far, which is quite a healthy figure. To reduce
manpower attrition, organizations have started taking corrective measures at
their end. Around 94% of respondents have started giving additional
responsibility, training, resized salary structure, created challenging job assignments with new technologies, tried job rotation, provided flexible
working hours and periodic performance based incentives to their IT manpower.
Only 5 % of respondents said that they haven’t taken any measures yet to control
attrition rate.

Manpower retention issues
Retaining experienced manpower in organizations is another key issue before
CIOs, while managing their IT teams. A key concern is poaching. Competitors
always try to poach on talented manpower by doling out better salaries and
benefits. Secondly, work pressure and odd hour deadlines for IT teams are also
increasing day by day leading to depression and mental stress. All this drives
individuals to the edge, and finally they call it a day. Another key issue is
the level of job satisfaction as after a project implementation is over, people
feel that the job is not challenging enough. Some are frustrated to the extent
that they cease to see any growth or opportunity for them. Around 45 % of
respondents raised alarms that retaining existing IT manpower is the second most
serious issue while 34% said that it’s the most serious issue for them. About
70% of respondents said that better salaries offered by competing companies take
away their talented manpower while only 5% respondents said that work pressure
is the key reason for quitting. Only 14% respondents gave reasons like
unsuitable postings and adjustment in work culture for their employees quitting
jobs. Overall, employees being offered higher salaries by competitors is the
primary concern for all.

Measures to combat stress
To reduce stress from the IT team, about 48% of the respondents adopted
flexible timings for their IT teams while another 20% took IT teams for outings.
Only 2% respondents said that they offer recreational activities like indoor
games, gyms, coffee houses, etc. A good 25% use innovative ideas such as
removing monotony from work, nominating employees for conferences, keeping them
motivated through trainings and encouraging employees to use recreational and
sports facilities available on campus. Strangely, none of the respondents opted
for the concept of working from home as a stress buster. This concept might be
gaining ground in western countries, but is not so popular in India. A few
organizations might have started it for their employees but in the survey we
didn’t get any record for that.

Creating backups
For some organizations, IT functions are extremely critical. Therefore, CIOs
can’t afford to lose a single member from their team even for a single day. However, if people leave, can they ensure that this would not hamper
their services in any manner? Do they have any backup plans? As expected, all of
the respondents claimed that they have devised various kinds of backup plans to
keep there IT operations running. We interacted with some of the CIOs and found
that they follow protocols that bind employees to the organization in such a way
that it doesn’t hamper IT operations even if a person wants to leave. Listed
below are some of the precautions you could take to prevent disruption of IT
functions in case an employee quits from the IT team:
1. Make provision for sufficient notice period in the appointment letter
to ensure a smooth transition of assignments to peers and managers and well
documented project execution and management processes.
2. Before an employee leaves, a proper hand over to the next in-charge is
required, with both of them working together for at least a week. Always keep a
stand-by arrangement for key tasks.
3. A perfect documentation of the responsibilities and work, done by the
outgoing employee, should be asked for. Some organizations follow a strict
notice period policy (1-3 months notice is required before a person leaves).
4. Nowadays, team concept is gaining popularity, wherein jobs are handled
by a team of 2-3 persons. This creates automatic backups and when a new person
joins he can easily be trained by older employees. In addition, every new
endeavor is documented after implementation, which also supports the new joinee.
Job rotation amongst team members is another important concept and creates a
knowledge base to ensure that a CIO is not dependent on individuals.

IT staff is
given sufficient inputs through team building workshops. 25% of our staff is
entitled to job profile
rotation. Our systems have been devised in such a way that there is lesser
dependence on other teams.
M D Agrawal, Chief Manager – IT
Bharat Petroleum

Training manpower
These days enterprises from all verticals spend considerable amount of
budget on training activities to build motivation amongst the IT team. Around
37% of respondents said that they have a separate budget for training and should
spend around Rs 2 to 5 lakh.

Another 14% spend Rs 11 to 20 lakh while only 8% spend more than Rs 20 lakh.
Interestingly, 20 % of respondents said that they don’t have any separate budget
for manpower training while 11% respondents acknowledged that they spend less
than a lakh on training their IT manpower. In addition, 20% respondents admitted
to conducting team building exercises either every month or six months or at
least once a year. Only 11% respondents said that they don’t conduct such
exercises. Such an analysis shows that employers are pumping huge sums of money
for training and team building exercises in order to increase employee
motivation and productivity.

HR departments use innovative ways to motivate their IT teams, for eg,
conducting regular meetings of IT members across the organization and arranging
get togethers/outings. However, all this depends purely on the requirements that
are put forth by CIOs during review meetings.

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