Bangalore: To make the most of a bad situation, Infosys Technologies Ltd is deploying about 10% of its 100,000 employees on internal projects.
These would involve writing programming code for human resource systems, invoicing systems, inter-departmental communication systems and training curriculum, among others, and would utilize the skills of people who have about a year’s experience in the field.
The more seasoned hands at India’s second largest software services firm by revenue will be employed developing intellectual property.
“There are so many internal projects waiting to be closed. We never have the time or a breather to do it. All the time we’ve been creating systems for our clients but...we (also) want to create some (for Infosys),” said Nandita Gurjar, senior vice-president and global human resources head at the company.
The first in a series of about 200 projects will start in April.
Gurjar said the primary objective of the initiative is to keep the employees’ programming skills sharp.
“You can’t have them waiting for one year on the bench...they would forget all that they have been trained on,” she said.
A serious recession in the US and Europe, the main overseas markets for India’s software firms, has forced them to bench a large number of employees.
Infosys refused to disclose the number of employees who are not gainfully employed. It, however, had earlier reported a staff utilization rate of 74.8% as on 31 December. This effectively means that about a quarter of its employees are sitting it out. The number is set to increase as the firm has recently absorbed 20,000 fresh engineering graduates and will start inducting another 20,000 from June.
Pothen Jacob, head of human capital group practice at Watson Wyatt India Pvt. Ltd, a part of global consulting firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide, called Infosys’ move a smart one and said other software firms may already be doing this or are likely to follow.
“It is anticipating potential growth in the future and then looking for enabling the organization to be prepared for the anticipated work,” Jacob said.
Mumbai-based Patni Computer Systems Ltd, too, has shifted some of its employees to internal projects, said Rajesh Padmanabhan, its executive vice-president and global head of human resources. The number of redeployed people was not available.
Wipro Techologies Ltd and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd declined to comment. HCL Technologies Ltd said it could not comment on the number of employees it has had to bench. A spokesperson for Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. said: “Investments in internal systems and processes happen every year...and is not a function of the macroeconomic environment.”
A Watson Wyatt survey done in November showed that at least half the 70 companies it surveyed found reskilling and deployment of employees a critical challenge in today’s market scenario. The companies surveyed were from across India and across sectors.