by Richa Govil, Group Manager, Infosys Technologies
It seems that some readers disagree with my statement about increase of unprofessionalism among talent in India. However this is a trend that goes beyond my personal experience. Recent studies have tried to measure “employability” of graduates including qualities such as ability to work in teams (e.g. see NASSCOM, McKinsey, and others).
To me this trend seems an inevitable consequence of the simple laws of supply and demand.
Some readers have pointed out that employers need to be equally professional in their relationships with employees. I agree. When the tables are turned, employers in the past have been known to treat their employees with little regard. Having seen two close friends go through lay-offs, I can attest to the callousness (deliberate or otherwise) that can be involved when the situation is not handled correctly.
However, none of this negates the fact that employees are now hitting back, collectively as it were. No longer loyal, willing to switch at the “drop of a hat”, and unwilling to keep commitments, talent has now firmly entered the realm of unprofessionalism. I have had multiple cases where after accepting an offer in writing, prospective employees have not informed the company that they will not be joining after all. These days you can be sure that you have actually filled an open position only when the employee shows up on Day 1.
Business communities in any country (at least at the mid to senior management levels) tend to be small. Even India with its billion people, relies on a much much smaller business community and business graduates to run its companies. It seems that young workers in India have not yet developed the maturity to realize this fact. With the over-abundance of opportunities this behavior appears to be the right choice (or even the logical one by some calculations). But this will prove to be a short-sighted approach when the economy turns as it eventually must.
Attracting the right talent (not just the right diploma/degree) in emerging economies is a challenge for all global companies (with Indian origins or otherwise). It becomes even more frustrating for companies unfamiliar with the local situation or with a weaker brand locally. And in India, as other growth industries such as retail accelerate hiring, the supply of skilled talent will only become tighter.
But this is exactly where “thinking flat” comes in. Companies have to look beyond traditional organizational structures and recruiting models. They can consider alternatives such as hiring talent where best available, stretching reporting & collaboration lines across continents not just for the senior management levels as is already common, but even deeper in the organization. Or, they can hire internationally mobile professionals. In some cases, they can look to “Tier 2” cities for employees (e.g. JetBlue’s customer support centers or Indian IT companies’ development centers). Or going to the source of the problem, they can expand the talent pool by working with colleges and universities to make the graduates more employable.
Many of these approaches are being used by leading companies (Infosys included). For examples, see the Oct 17 New York Times: “In a Twist, Americans Appear in Ranks of Indian Firms” and “Skills Gap Hurts Technology Boom in India.”