Decade of dedication: 20% TCS staff celebrate 10th anniversary

Milind Lakkad, chief human resources officer, TCS
Milind Lakkad, chief human resources officer, TCS


  • The metric underscores why TCS has been able to do better than its peers
  • Unlike Infosys and Wipro and startups, TCS does not reward its employees with stock options

Bengaluru: Few large Indian companies can claim to have a better record than TCS when it comes to retaining employees.

Tata Consultancy Services Ltd claims that a fifth of the 614,795 employees has been with the country’s largest private sector employer for over a decade, a metric that underscores why the firm has been able to do better than its peers.

“I am proud to say that almost the entire team of 25 business heads we had created in 2008 is still in TCS. We have over 125,000 TCSers today with an average tenure of over 10 years in TCS," said Milind Lakkad, TCS’s chief human resources officer in the annual report, released on Wednesday.

Graphic: Mint
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Graphic: Mint

“This cohort represents true strength of TCS. They are custodians of our culture, values and institutional memory, and have been central to our ability to weather the unprecedented attrition and influx of fresh talent without letting it affect high quality of project outcomes that clients have come to expect from TCS,."

Unlike Infosys and Wipro and startups, TCS, which went public in 2004, does not reward its employee with stock options. Neither is the country’s largest technology services firm perceived to be the best paymaster in the industry. The Mumbai-headquartered company rarely hires external candidates for senior roles, a trait that has even made a few question if the firm runs the risk of becoming insular.

Despite all these attributes, more people stay with the company.

Beyond giving attrition rates, none of 25 largest companies disclose any metrics which shed light on how effectively a company is able to retain talent but at least one executive search partner says TCS’s ability to retain employees as impressive.

“A fifth of total employees to be with the company for over 10 years is a very high percentage and very impressive," said Navnit Singh, chairman and regional MD, Korn Ferry India, an executive search firm. “Company can be perceived to be not the best paymaster. But its ability to allow employees to grow and groom and offer multiple opportunities explains why so many people stay with the company."

TCS, which ended with $27.9 billion in revenue last year and an industry-leading operating margin of 24.1%, has grown its revenue at a compounded annual growth rate of 9.2% since 2013, according to a Mint analysis. In this time the company has seen only three CEOs. Finally, TCS has managed to consistently have the lowest attrition rates among all large and small technology services firms although most companies define attrition differently.

Mint asked chief operating officer, Natarajan Ganapathy Subramaniam in January why employees stay on at TCS.

“See, we give our people some good honest work, good salary, and then identify people with high potential and we try to retain them," said Subramaniam.

“My generation placed a lot more on longevity and loyalty. For the current generation, loyalty for the sake of loyalty is a bygone virtue, unless you offer them very good job and very good work."

One more reason people stay with the company is because of the different kinds of work an engineer gets to do, according to a former employee.

“For decades, TCS has been known for taking on first-of-its-kind, complex transformational programs and successfully delivering them," said Ramkumar Ramamoorthy, former chairman of Cognizant India.

“For technologists and program managers such experience is their best dreams come true," said Ramamoorthy, who worked briefly with TCS in the ’90s.

Subramaniam’s younger brother and the chairman of Tata Sons, Natarajan Chandrasekaran was more eloquent when Mint asked him this question some years back.

“We are essentially a company that takes great pride in recognizing engineering talent. And as a philosophy I always give a person something more challenging than what anybody in the organization thinks the person can do," said Chandrasekaran in 2016 when he was still the boss of TCS. “That way, a person will always push himself to do better and remain motivated to stay in the organization."

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