Under Performers – Employees or Employers ?

Under Performers – Employees or Employers ?

As the massive layoff issue in TCS is gearing up protests across the country and the ethics behind these layoffs are questioned, TCS still maintain the same statement of only under performers have been given pink slips. Recently a sacked performer recorded the exit interview discussion between the employee and the HR management raises doubts on TCS statement of “under performers”. In the recorded discussion the HR says that it is not just the performance but various other factors are also considered. When asked about those factors HR simply says its confidential data. Well, when you don’t have any answer you can simply say it’s confidential or let us take it offline – a typical conversation in IT industry.

Having said this it’s time to see the factors and unethical practices been followed in IT industry for layoffs citing under performance. For the sake of argument I still keep under performer as the top reason on the below list of factors:

  1. Under performance
  2. Employees on bench/low productivity
  3. Employees on maternity leave
  4. Employees at onsite
  5. Employees who changed multiple projects in a year
  6. No more quota on higher bands

Let us dig into each of the factors and identify the so called “ethics” followed in the layoffs. (Well somehow I couldn’t stop remembering the company preaching ethics to all employees on their date of joining)

Employees on bench/low productivity – Employers always need their employees to be fully productive across the year which is understood as they run business and not charity. Employers also recruits people to sit on bench as sometimes down the line there may be scope for some new projects. The question here is who has the responsibility to pull the bench employees and assign them to productive work. If an employee sitting in bench voluntarily go and ask for a project s/he would be told that we are holding them for a new project and they can happily relax till that time and simply refuse to release them into any productive work. If for some reason the so called planned project in pipeline is not materializing benchers has to start again from where they started and when the performance discussion arrives they will be simply branded as benchers and has no productivity and will be dragged into lower bands without considering the reasons for being on bench.

Employees on maternity leave – Female employees who are on maternity leave or on sabbatical to take care of their kids are the next targets. Again the reason for low productivity is cited as they didn’t generate any revenue for the company. Here they easily forget the fact that these employees are not paid any salary also other than the first three months for maternity leave. Isn’t this is illogical to expect the employees to be productive when they are on maternity/long leave. Earlier industry has the practice of defaulting the ratings for these employees, however now these employees are simply branded as under performers.

Employees at onsite – This point and point no.6 are inter-related. Usually Employees at onsite are given low rating compared to those who are at offshore. The reason from the management would be so funny that they say we need to give the other employees at offshore a good rating so that s/he can get decent bonus. With bonus being not paid properly this is simply a piece of crap statement from the manager who assess the performance. When asked about the employee at onsite the reply would be “You are already earning in dollars, let others also earn”. Firstly this is an unfair performance assessment and secondly this is not the real reason behind this. The real reason is every company has predefined quota for each of the bands and it will always a hard fight for managers to bring someone down the ratings. These kinds of reasons will simply bypass all those hard fights and make the job of management much easier in an unethical way.

The last two factors are again not in the hands of appraisee, rather it’s a “corporate/managerial” decision. If an employee changed multiple projects in a year the management says there is no clear record track on his performance due to multiple switches pulling his/her ladder down again. The last one is absolutely a piece of shit as the company already decides the number of people to get each bands regardless of the individual performance and these decisions will be taken at the “corporate” level. Though an employee performs considerably well, if there are no more slots on the higher bands they will be simply pulled into a lower band. When asked the response from the management would be its relative ranking and the employee needs to work more to compete with other employees. Simply put another reason to reject the employee the right ranking and denying what is deserved.

There is no denial of fact that there would be still some under performers; however it is not just under performance that is taken into consideration while deriving the ranking and appraisals. With all the above factors and more, hardly an employee gets right ranking which in turn affects the bonus, hike and finally ending up with layoffs. In case of TCS this is even worse as the people who fall under C bands (Met expectations) are being fired. This seems more to be of financial decision from TCS just to show the increased profit by terminating huge chunk of employees. Many argue its business and not a charity organization, we too say the same we don’t need any charity what we need is simply a fair and ethical environment for the employees.

In all above cases underperformers are not just identified by the individual performance but rather many factors on which there is absolutely no control from employee. It is the corporate responsibility to get projects, minimize bench strength, right policies for people on maternity and onsite, transparent appraisal system. If the corporate fails to do this it is left to the readers to decide who are “under performers – Employees or Employers?”.

( Ponraj M , the article author is a FITE member working in IT company in Bengaluru)