The year 2015 is not likely to be particularly kind to middle managers in top Information Technology companies in India. Over the past year, and especially during the past few months, mid-managers whose work is not billed to customers and software engineers who cannot code have been given pink slips across companies including IBM, Infosys, Wipro and TCS. Already, companies have started getting rid of the flab. As reported by ET in October last year, from around 1.65 lakh employees on its payroll by 2011, IBM’s India headcount has now fallen to around 1.13 lakh and set to slide to 1 lakh by March 2015.
Wipro too is aiming to reach a size of one lakh employees. And recently, some mid-managers were sacked by TCS, which denied any mass layoffs were underway. The company emphasised that ‘involuntary attrition’ was less than 1% of its total workforce, but the alarm bells have started ringing.
Middle managers account for between 10% and 15% of the payroll at companies including Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Wipro, according to human resource executives. Many of these managers have 6-12 years of experience, and have grown into roles that involve allocating engineers for different projects, managing software quality and training fresh hires. Unfortunately, most of such managerial roles are no more required; these functions are now getting automated and even eliminated in a world where software training has moved out of physical classrooms and is being rendered online on platforms such as Coursera.
Over past few decades, India’s biggest software companies have hired hundreds of thousands of computer science graduates, trained them in the latest coding skills and pampered them by building fancy campuses with facilities including gyms, cafeterias and even day-care centres for infants. Now, many of them have grown to become managers monitoring armies of coders. In this journey, most of them have forgotten basic technical skills and have even not refreshed their understanding of the latest in technology. They now face a double whammy of their employers’ scrutiny, and an onslaught of software robots taking over many of their monitoring tasks.