December 9, 2023

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The end of the great resignation – the latest buzz referring to the record number of people who have left their jobs since the pandemic – is nowhere to be seen.

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“New employee expectations, and the availability of hybrid arrangements, will continue to drive growth in attrition. An individual organization with a turnover rate of 20% prior to the pandemic, with a turnover rate of 20% before the pandemic, will continue to drive growth in attrition. turnover rate in the coming years.”

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The Global Workforce Hopes and Fairs Survey, conducted by PwC, predicts that one in five workers worldwide could quit their jobs in 2022, with 71 per cent of respondents citing salary as the key driver for changing jobs.

The challenge for IT leaders is clear: With employees leaving faster than they can be fired, the race to hire the right talent continues – so is the need to retain existing IT talent.

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But for Kapil Mehrotra, group CTO of National Collateral Management Services (NCMS), the high turnover provided an opportunity for the IT department to cut costs, streamline its operations and find a long-term solution to the problem of permanent skills shortage.

Here’s how Mehrotra turned the great resignation to a new approach to staffing and skilling the commodity-based service provider’s IT department.

Lose 40% of domain expertise in a month

From IT infrastructure point of view, NCMS is 100% on cloud. The company’s IT department consisted of 27 employees, with one person each handling business analysis and cybersecurity, and the rest of the team split between handling infrastructure and applications. Applications were switched to SaaS and PaaS environments.

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It was only a matter of time before NCMS also saw churn in its IT department, with companies lacking experienced and skilled resources in the market and ready to hire developers to meet their needs.

“In March, 10 out of 27 employees of the IT department resigned after they received job offers with substantial hikes. At the time, application migration was underway, and our supply chain software was getting a major upgrade as well. The sudden and drastic drop in the strength of the department had a significant impact on many such high-priority projects,” says Mehrotra.

“Those who left included an Android specialist and experts in the fields of .Net and IT infrastructure. Since the company had a legacy system, it became harder to hire resources that could manage them. Nobody wanted to deal with legacy solutions. Potential candidates will express their inability to work on such systems by showing their certificates on newer versions of the solution,” he says.

In addition, the few skilled resources that were available for hire expected exorbitant salaries. “This would have not only impacted our budget, but also created imbalance in the IT department. HR wanted to maintain that balance that would have gone awry otherwise, if we had hired someone at a much higher salary than the existing team members who had been in the company for years,” says Mehrotra.

Nurturing new talent at home

So, while most technology leaders were looking for experienced and skilled resources, Mehrotra decided to hire fresh talent directly from nearby universities. Soon after the employees left the job, he went to engineering colleges in Gurgaon and shortlisted 20 to 25 CVs. Mehrotra eventually hired four candidates, taking the IT department’s workforce to 21.

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But Mehrotra now faced two challenges: he had to train freshers and start pending high-priority projects at the earliest.

“I told the business that we would not be able to take any new requirements from them for the next three months. This gave us time to prepare the freshers. Then we got into a work-based contract with outgoing team members. As per the contract, team members who dropped out were to complete high priority projects over the following months at a fixed monthly payment. If the project gets stretched to next month, there will be no additional payment,” says Mehrotra.

“Adopting this approach not only helped in completing the pending projects but also provided practical and practical training to the freshers. Those former employees acted as mentors for freshers, who were asked to write code and do research. This helped the new employees get a grip on the infrastructure of the company,” he says.

Along with this, Mehrotra also got the freshers certified. “One was certified on .NET and the other on Azure DevOps,” says Mehrotra.

New recruits help streamline operations, reduce costs

The strategy to onboard IT staff for the first time has helped Mehrotra reduce salary cost by 30%. “The new hires have come on low pay and have helped us streamline operations. We are getting 21 people to do the work which 27 people used to do earlier. The old employees worked comfortably. He used to come late to the office, open his laptop at 11 am and take regular breaks during working hours. The commitment level of freshers is high, and they stay in a company for an average of three years,” says Mehrotra.

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After working with mentors for three months, there was a boom in freshers. “We started taking necessities out of the business. The only difference in working with freshers is that as an IT leader, I have stepped up and taken on more responsibility. I ensure that I attend general meetings as well to avoid any conflicts. What used to be completed in one day is now taking seven days to complete. So, we take the time frame accordingly. We are currently operating at 70% of our productivity and expect to return to 100% in the next three months,” says Mehrotra.

Sharing his learnings with other IT leaders, he says, “There will always be a skill shortage in the market, but it is time to break the chain. Hiring resources at ever-increasing salaries is not a permanent solution. The answer lies in leveraging freshers. Like large software companies, CIOs must hire, train and retain freshers. We must nurture good resources to bridge the skill gap.” Mehrotra is now back for recruitment and has approached recruitment consultants to fill up 11 posts that are open to all, including candidates with six months to one year experience.

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