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Infosys employees vent anger on HR issues in blogs

Last updated on: April 15, 2010 19:52 IST

Infosys employees vent anger on HR issues in blogs

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Bibhu Ranjan Mishra in Bengaluru


Employee activism is on the rise at Infosys, India's second-largest information technology services firm, which employs close to 114,000 in India and across the world.

The company's effort to tame the disgruntled employees, who were earlier venting their anger in public forums and some social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, by giving them a blogging platform on its intranet, seems to have back-fired.

So much so, the company's HR Head, Nandita Gurjar claims to be getting thousands of negative reactions to her blog postings in the company's intranet 'Sparsh'.

This has forced her to set up a team of six to moderate the blogs and 'My voice', the dedicated website the company has developed to seek the opinion of employees on important policy matters. Infosys is understood to have changed some of its HR policy decisions, coming under severe attacks by the employees in these blogs and 'My voice'.

"We realise that they should not take names and make personal attacks. But sometimes, from their perspective, they are in so much pain that they need your attention and which is why they make personal attacks. You can't react to it . . . because I don't think they are talking personally about you, as long as they are talking about a position. It's part of the game," said Gurjar.

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Image: Infosys Technologies CEO S Gopalakrishnan.
Photographs: Reuters
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The employees started showing angst in various social networking platforms and websites when Infosys won the Business Today award for being the 'Best Employer'.

Many of them questioned this and wanted to know under what criteria the company was adjudged best employer whereas "you are asking us to work for 9.15 hours a day".

This anger aggravated when the company launched its new changed management system christened 'iRace', to remap the technology skills of the employees. This initiative, which aimed at "improving the technology depth" of the software professionals, reportedly had affected over 4,000 employees, who felt it was blocking their career growth.

When found that many employees are venting their anger in social networking and blogging sites, the company invited them to convey their reactions in the official blogging site.

In a one particular blog posted by Gurjar, a record number of 1,100 employees participated. "We actually believe that our employees are writing outside. So, we posted comments in the blog, suggesting the employees raise issues relating to HR and other matters inside the company. If they raise this outside, everybody else will start commenting on it and people make fun of them. And remember, as long as they wear our badge, they are the brand ambassadors of the company," said Gurjar.

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Image: Employees at an Infosys campus.
Photographs: Reuters
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Ever since iRace was introduced in the company, Gurjar writes blogs and changes topics every Friday. The employees are free to participate and give their comments. Every day, the blog is getting around 30,000 hits.

"Now we have made things open and transparent with official blogs. Here the difference is they put an email id, even when they write junk," she adds.

She says other than blogs, she receives about 200-300 mails from employees every day, where employees write on any HR related issues, starting from bus services to HR policies.

"I will any day respect somebody who comes out with his email id and say I hate this (any policy decision). And they write to me directly, I don't even need a blog," she says.

To a query whether the company thinks employee activism has suddenly gone up, she says it was always there. But, this is being seen more, as the new generation of employees have moved to Facebook and Twitter.

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Image: Employees at an Infosys campus.
Photographs: Reuters
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"When they say let's talk, the whole world talks. You can't stop them from talking because it's all about network. In the whole IT industry, if one person says anything, it just spreads like wildfire."

Other than the blogging site, there is the dedicated website, 'My voice', where every employee who has an opinion on any policy matter can give an opinion. The website is getting about 4,000 hits every day. Owing to the overwhelming participation, Infosys has now developed a software which brings the summary of the employees' comments, to which Gurjar replies religiously.

"They (employees) are saying we are going to participate in every decision which impacts us. We have opened the window for them to air their opinions and views on these platforms," she ends.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Campus selection rules made more stringent

Meanwhile, Infosys has made its campus selection process more stringent this year by increasing the cut-off marks and visiting a fewer engineering colleges.

Nandita Gurjar said the company visited just 300 engineering colleges against the usual 1,000, and gave more than 18,000 offer letters. "We have actually increased our tests, percentage cut-offs, which helped us in picking the top students across colleges," she said.

The compensation being offered by the company has, however, remained at the 2009-level. Infosys has given an average salary of Rs 3.25 lakh (Rs 325,000) this year. The campus recruits will start joining the company after June this year.

Gurjar also said Infosys was the biggest recruiter from B-schools across the country and gave offers to 441 students with a 93 per cent conversion.

Besides, the company has hired 15 IIM graduates this year, mostly for its global sales roles.


Image: The amphitheatre at the Infosys campus in Mysore.
Photographs: Rediff Archive
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