Younger workers, everyone says, are following the money.
A study released this week found salaries in information technology and related services jumped 9.5% last year. An earlier report by the same industry body, the National Association of Software and Service Companies, estimates attrition spans 12% to a whopping 70%. How, then, to explain a man like Abul Koyes Choudhury?
At 30, Choudhury has been working for the same company—Wipro—since graduating eight-and-a-half years ago. Ask him why he’s stayed and he cites innovation, growth, flexible timings, a few trips overseas, his monthly meetings with People Who Matter, that others know of his employer at cocktail parties.
Guess what doesn’t come up?
“The monetary aspect in my mind is not so high,” Choudhury says. “The work atmosphere is more important.”
They are hard to find—workers in their 20s and early 30s who have been with their employers for more than five years—but they do exist. Let’s ask the few who have toiled—loyally, no less—in this growing economy about what makes them happy.
If the question is phrased that way, Himangshu Das might cringe.
“Most of the time from what I see, employees expect someone will give them the happiness,” says Das, one of the first 100 hires at MindTree Consulting in Bangalore seven years ago. “You have to decide to be happy.”
His wisdom might stem from being among the elders of the so-called SMS Generation. At 34, the civil servant’s son refuses to be “blindly loyal.”
Every six months, as MindTree conducts evaluations, Das takes personal and professional stock. In meetings with supervisors, he doesn’t always ask for a salary increase.
“I tend to negotiate with managers by asking for opportunity,” he says. “I actively seek out things the company can do and try to get in there.”
What about the skyrocketing salaries of their friends, the 50% hikes dissected and gloated about over beer and kebabs every weekend?
These long-timers just sit back and nod—and drink cheaper beer.
“I may not be getting 100% of what I can get at another company next week,” Das says. “You can work for a multinational which might pay higher but the enhancement of your career will be stuck.”
Among tech workers, the chance to dabble in new technologies, to develop, to architect, seems key.
“People quit jobs for the salary hikes but I was always more interested in my job for the excitement of doing something new,” says Vibin Balakrishnan, a project manager with a large software company. “In the last five or six years, I have worked on six or seven emerging technologies.”
That has made it feel like a new job almost every year, says Balakrishnan, 28, who has been at his first and only job for six years.
Even as they brush off the importance of high salaries, the young workers do credit stock options with some loyalty. All cite regular and rigorous evaluations, monthly in some cases. They welcome feedback and face time, and revel in a chief executive knowing their name. They also like being able to walk into top brass’ office anytime and offer ideas, even criticism.
Indeed, managers might want to take note that approachability is key. “Some of the problem when you’re growing so fast is that you mean to tell people something and you never get a chance,” Paul C. Reilly, chairman of executive-search firm Korn/Ferry International, says in an interview in Gurgaon, the call-centre mecca where attrition has become epidemic.
Of course, the pull factor looms. A few years ago, armed with another offer, Balakrishnan went to his boss.
“I had a difference of opinion on some policies and I did seriously think of leaving,” he recalls. “But I could talk to senior management folks and get some clarity on why things were the way they were. I didn’t think I would find that at many companies—so I stayed.”
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