HCL: No appraisal in 2020, no mass layoffs, lateral hiring continues

The Company is not only preserving jobs but also ensuring employee safety by not mandating work from office

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HCL Technologies, a subsidiary of HCL Enterprise, has decided not to have appraisals for this year, and this will be applicable for all employees across levels.

However, in the last quarter, HCL Technologies had also mentioned that there will be no layoffs. Staying true to its commitment, HCL has ensured job security for its employees as long as their performance is up to the mark.

Speaking to HRKatha, Varre Appa Rao, CHRO, HCL Technologies, says, “Typically, there will be a small percentage of people who will exit because of performance, which is the same for any industry. But, we will surely not be reducing our workforce due to the drop in business.”

That is not all. The tech firm plans to continue its lateral hiring. It will recruit as per demand.

“We never stopped hiring in the first place. Currently, it is going on at the right pace. Our lateral hiring is dependent on two factors, attrition and growth,” points out Rao.

As there was a complete lockdown situation, Rao adds that the Company was a little slow in lateral hiring, but with the relaxation in government guidelines, it picked up in the month of May and June.

Varre Appa Rao

“We never stopped hiring in the first place. Currently, it is going on at the right pace. Our lateral hiring is dependent on two factors, attrition and growth.”  

 

“The downward trend in attrition continues. It is expected to continue in the next quarter as well. Attrition has come down significantly, but we will not be hiring significant numbers for immediate replacement,” adds Rao.

Most of the IT companies keep a bench of four to five per cent. During uncertain times, it’s common for companies to repurpose that bench first. However, Rao shares, “The bench levels in the Company are not reduced. In fact, we were repurposing and using them all, and for that the mobilisation has also increased.”

Initial challenges

Just like other industries, HCL too had felt the heat of the pandemic in the beginning. Different organisations opted for different strategies, and hence, came together to fight this battle.

When lockdown was announced, Rao continues, “We were slightly affected because there was a dependency on labs. In our engineering and R&D services, a lot of equipment is being tested for our partners — be it the aircraft industry, the manufacturing sector or the automobile industry — and for obvious reasons, this testing couldn’t take place at home.”

“Meanwhile, it took some time for the Government to formulate their guidelines, so the Company suffered a setback in its line of business. Also, a lot of customers had not given the approvals to work from home, and it took them nearly two to three weeks to approve the new normal,” Rao adds.

According to Rao, “There was very little disruption for a month and a half until the Government guidelines were relaxed.”

“Although we have a staff strength of around 1500 in China, when the virus spread was at its peak in the country, we brought our executive crisis management team into force on January 27. Going by the intensity of the situation, we declared WFH on March 4, almost three weeks before the lockdown was announced in India,” shares Rao.

This move gave HCL the runway in terms of providing laptops, desktops and VPN connections to its employees.

With almost 98 per cent staff working from home, it was a challenge to keep engaging with its workforce and also ensure their safety and well-being.

Talking about employee engagement, Rao shares that there are several modules ranging from zumba classes at 6 p.m. in the evening to yoga sessions for five to ten minutes every day.

For the employees’ safety, HCL runs a global helpline, which is managed by doctors and life coaches. Employees who feel anxious, or are in need of medical assistance at any point, will be provided assistance and ambulances. These healthcare facilities are not just limited to the employees, but extended to their family members as well.

“We also provide our employees with testing support. All our campuses have hospitals, manned by HCL Healthcare. We work with our third-party administrators and insurance companies for employees and their family members who need hospital beds,” Rao explains.

Meanwhile, the organisation is encouraging its employees to come to office. Although, Rao candidly admits that employees are not obligated to come to office in any way. “This is just a suggestion, and as long as the employees are safe, and deliverables are taking place, we are okay with the majority of the staff working remotely,” he adds.

Moreover, “It is not just about the employees alone. Their families should also feel secure, which is why, we are not mandating work from office. Employees are coming to office of their own will / choice.”

Currently, around two per cent of the total workforce has returned to offices to work.