Layoffs in IT Industry — people side of it
I was out traveling the North East states of India for about 2 weeks with my son and was a little out of touch with news since a lot of hotels in the small places up the mountains don’t provide newspapers and the majority have power supply problems. Luckily phones, especially data services, are also spotty. All in all, a nice, quiet vacation?
When I came back to Bangalore, one of the major topics going around is the number of people who are being let go of from the poster children of Indian IT services companies — Cognizant letting go of 10000+, Infosys laying off, Wipro, and latest TechMahindra. And then there are smaller companies that don’t make headlines but they also go through similar cycles, including some of my previous employers.
Every company claims there is nothing wrong or different and there is no layoff but this is a normal process of letting non-performers go. The situation this year is further exacerbated by the technology upheavals due to digitization, AI, Robotics — per McKinsey & Company over 50% of IT employees will become irrelevant over the next few years. And then there is news from the US, Australia, UK, NZ about how visa programs are being tightened and Indian IT engineers are no longer welcome to their countries.
Looking at the numbers, it looks like anywhere between 25000 to 50000 people, potentially much more, maybe losing their jobs in the next few weeks. This is a shocking number, especially when you consider that most people would be in their 30’s and 40’s with family commitments — kids in school, home loan EMI’s to be paid, etc.
Questions that pop up for the head honchos of IT companies:
- How is it that none of these companies could foresee the significant shifts in technology and prepare for it?
- All these companies claim employees are their biggest assets. So, why is it that the heaps of money they are all sitting on cannot be used to upskill capable employees for the upcoming changes in the industry?
- The big investors, including some of the founders who claim to be spokespersons for the industry — can they not take a cut on their earnings and ease out a little on expectations in terms of margins in the range of 20–30% for a year and instead invest in their people for a year?
- And, last, as an industry, is it possible to think a little differently — can these layoffs (call it by whatever name but layoffs in the IT industry is for the employees!) be staggered so that you don’t have a glut of scared, worried, and stressed resources job hunting for non-existent positions in a market where several companies are letting people go simultaneously?
Would be great to see the innovative thinkers and leaders of this industry pay back a little and take care of all their employees (and not just the ‘star’ ones) during this time of transformation and upheaval….
All comments and thoughts welcome …