Wipro needs to improve staff utilisation: HR chief Govil

SAURABH GOVIL, Senior Vice-President & Global Head of HR, Wipro

Saurabh Govil, Senior VP & Global Head of Human Resources, Wipro, is a happy man. While Infosys and TCS battle rising attrition rates, Wipro has been posting decreasing attrition rates from 17 per cent in the first quarter to 16.4 per cent in the third quarter ended December 31. In an interview with BusinessLine, Govil admits that the company could do much better in utilisation, an area where TCS and Infosys are much ahead. Excerpts:

Attrition has been dipping steadily quarter-on-quarter, while your peers struggle with rising attrition. What has Wipro done differently?

In my view, it is no rocket science. It is simple stuff done well that has resulted in bringing attrition down steadily. Our employee engagement scores have gone up across all parameters by 1-2 per cent. All of us go to work, we all want to do well, be recognised, learn new things and be rewarded commensurately. This doesn’t change across industries.

We have to make sure that we are setting the right goals and objectives for our employees, giving them regular feedback on their performance, providing learning opportunities, recognising them for good work, giving them job rotation, exposing them to new technology areas, showing them a clear-cut career path.

Most important, as an organisation we must be perceived as being fair and transparent by our employees.

Our revenues have gone up, margins are stable, attrition is falling and most of our business units have done well. The best motivation for employees is winning. Business units that win in the market will always show very low attrition numbers.

While Infosys and TCS have posted stellar utilisation rates of 82.7 per cent and 86.7 per cent, respectively, in Q3, Wipro’s has fallen. Why?

We are showing a reduction of one-and-a-half per cent in utilisation at 78.8 per cent, because, in this quarter seasonally, employees go on leave and there is a holiday season. This is a one off; we should be back to earlier rates next quarter. Operationally, we have not done badly on utilisation, it has remained more or less the same as in Q2. However, I agree with you, that we have headspace to do much better and increase utilisation. If you look at the last 4-5 quarters, utilisation has been gradually increasing and we will see that trend continue.

The Open Source practice was to be scaled up from 3,000 to 10,000 people. Has it been done?

A large part of scaling the practice is about building an Open Source Academy. It is more critical for us to re-train and re-skill our existing people in the Academy.

We have trained over 1,000 in the latest Open Source paradigms and techniques in Q3. The practice has scored 12 significant wins and has built a robust pipeline during the quarter. The plan is to scale the practice to 10,000 people and we are building capability in delivery, technical, advisory and consulting areas.

What is the progress on the Distinguished Member of Technical Staff (DMTS) programme launched last year?

The DMTS programme at Wipro aims to create a special focus on recognising and enabling an expert pool of technical specialists. The programme provides career advancement opportunities, enabled by significant investment, mentoring and focused assignments, to those who are passionate about pursuing technology. The programme has been accepted very well and we need to take it forward. Interviews are going on right now for four levels – Senior Member, Distinguished Member, Fellow and Distinguished Fellow, which is the apex of this specialist cadre.

We assess them based on the number of technical papers they have published, the conferences they have addressed, the journals they have contributed to/ been quoted in and how they are accepted in the larger technical community. DMTS will help strengthen Wipro’s technology edge.

Are you planning to give employees a 100 per cent variable payout as Infosys and TCS did in Q3?

No, we have no plans to do so. For us, it is all based on performance. There are some business units that have received more than 100 per cent variable payout as they have done extremely well, beyond plan, and some business units have received below 100 per cent.

Considering that mid-level employees are coming under the scanner, what are your plans?

This is an annual thing and not specific to any particular company. The issue is how we communicate where they stand in terms of performance.

You cannot tell an employee that you have to leave at the end of a month due to performance-related issues. We have strong systems in place that gives an employee maximum number of chances to improve performance.

Published on January 19, 2015

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