IT Layoffs – A word to HR

This entry is part 6 of 10 in the series IT Life

Shyam Sundar who is part of NDLF IT union has around 20 years of experience in IT sector. He wrote an article “IT employees Life full of fun or Problems” in Tamil to create awareness on various issues faced by IT employees. This article is published in 10 parts in Tamil but due to various reasons, we could publish the english version only till the 4th part.

Now  we continue with the subsequent parts of the article. We request everyone to spread this article to increase awareness among IT employees to help them face difficult issues in their work life.

(To read the previous parts )

In the last part, I asked whether human resource (HR) officer is a friendly colleague or our Villain. People who are afraid of getting terminated think an answer for this query. You can cross check with my answer after reading this article and check if your answer matches with my view.

the management mentioned in a statement that these kind of incidents will not be repeated in the company. It did not clarify that HR officer followed only management orders and gives a perception that the mistake is made by the lady officer herself.

Why did the HR conversaion in Tech Mahnidra went viral ?

In the first part of this article, we discussed about a HR conversation with an employee of Tech Mahindra. Let us get a closer look at this problem and will see how it relates to our answer.

The Tech Mahindra conversation became viral and it was shared among approximately 5 lakh people. As a result, it gained the attention of media. All top channels and leading newspapers published this news.

Is this the only HR/Employee conversation available on internet where HR officer asks employee to resign immediately? Is Tech Mahindra the only company doing termination like this? The answer to both the questions is no. We have several audio clips like this available on internet. This type of conversation is happening not only in Tech Mahindra but in all leading IT companies on a daily basis.

If that is the case, why this particular conversation with HR attracted every one’s attention. If you listen to the conversation carefully, you will notice that the affected employee asks the HR officer’s name and she mentions her name in the conversation. People who forwarded this audio conversation also forwarded the lady HR name and photo published in her Linkedin profile. As many employees were having tough time with HR, it gained everyone’s attention and everyone started forwarding both the conversation and HR photo to their friends group. It is evident that people forwarded the conversation due to grudge employees have on HR in general. The fact that the concerned HR is a woman also helped.

For HR officers, employee resignation is just a target to meet whereas for employee it is their livelihood

From this incident in Tech Mahindra what should HR officers infer?

Let us look at this incident closer.

What is the impact created on the HR officer? Definitely the lady officer did not have any personal interest in separating the employee. She followed the order passed from top management.

But, after this problem became viral to outside world, the management mentioned in a statement that these kind of incidents will not be repeated in the company. It did not clarify that HR officer followed only management orders and gives the perception that the mistake is made by the lady officer herself. As this incident went viral, she is projected as villain to outside world, to her colleagues, friends and relatives. This would have created a bad feeling to her personally. In this incident lady officer is made a scape goat to the outside world.

So HR officers should not follow the management orders without analyzing what is correct. If HR officer is proved to have committed wrong, even if they follow management decision, they are bound to be blamed for the mistake they did.

HR officer should put themselves in affected employee’s shoes and look into the problem. The employee has all the rights to fight to save their jobs. For HR officers, employee resignation is just a target to meet whereas for employee it is their livelihood. So HR officer should not take advantage of the employees situation (created by management) and harasses the employee personally.

R should revisit this issue, get proper training on how to conduct exit interviews and approach this issue for the welfare of both management and employee.

HR officers should avoid the following mistakes when conducting discussion with employees:

  1. They should not give false promises like they will help employees find jobs in another company. This is really childish statement as HR is not able to save the current job of the employee.
    In this case, employee should be clear that they are thankful for HR offer and agree to resign only if this offer is confirmed. If every employee stick to this plan, HR officers will stop to give such false promises
  2. HR officer should not use false threats like company will black list the employee; threaten that they will not get job outside if they are blacklisted, that employee will not get provident funds/gratuity in case of company termination etc. If an employee agrees to submit resignation voluntarily they are a good employee and if they resist to resign they are bad, this is definitely a blackmail to get their resignation. This definitely affect the reputation of the company if they have policy like this.
  3. Threatening employees that if they try to approach labour court, company legal team will crush the employee. I have a friend who faced such threatening call from human resource officer. Threatening like this will badly affect the reputation of the company.
  4. Last but not the least HR officer should put themselves in affected employee shoes and approach this discussion.

Some people also complain their managers are responsible for their separation and have personal grudge on them.

Now we will put ourselves in HR officer shoess and try to see this issue. Are they happy in doing  layoff? Do they get benefits by  doing this forced termination?

There is a program in Tamil TV Channel Vijay TV called Neeya Naana, talk show conducted by Gopinath,  in which many HR participated.  in that. The following are the points told by HR officers in that talk show:

1) These forced resignations create negative thoughts in their minds.

2) Conducting exit interviews daily creates mental tension to them.

3) They express the feeling that this action may affect their family and everyone agreed that they are doing this as per management orders.

The above statements gives a very clear picture that HR officers are following only the instruction coming from top management.

We already saw in the Tech Mahindra case how management escaped from this issue by putting blame on HR officer. We also considered how the lady HR officer is affected from the impression about this issue.  For that reason only we are not publishing her photo in this article which became viral in social media.

So HR should revisit this issue, get proper training on how to conduct exit interviews and approach this issue keeping the mind the welfare of employee. Blindly following management instruction is not correct behavior. They should consult with legal team of management and explore how they can handle this better. They should not become scapegoats by  blindly following management orders.

Affected employees also should understand that HR officer is doing their work and having personal grudge on this issue towards HR is not correct. I strongly feel HR is also one of the employees who is getting salary from the management.  Layoff fear is common among HR officers in many companies. They are doing their jobs assigned. If they follow correct procedures, definitely they are our very good colleagues and not villain. That is my conclusion on HR position. So now you can cross check your answer with my conclusion.

We understand that HR abide by management policies and playing the role of implementing management decisions. So the question arises, should HR take the blame for wrong activities from management.

Even if HR officials are following management orders, they have to approach this on humanitarian grounds. As I already mentioned, for tiger it is one day meal but for the deer it is life or death issue. So HR officials should think from employee’s view and should avoid taking things personally during the whole process.

Some people also complain their managers are responsible for their separation and have personal grudge on them.

Atleast people in junior and middle level do not come under supervisor category. Companies consider them as workmen and they will not do immediate termination. But very senior employees (managers) are given termination letter directly if management feels that they do not come under workman category.

I have talked with senior managers who faced such spot termination. Definitely their situation is worse and  they are more affected than employees in junior and midlevel.

As I said earlier, more and more chairs are removed in musical chair game as the game proceeds to the finishing stage. So having personal grudge and blaming supervisors also should be avoided.

We will discuss about some of the common mistakes by IT employees in the next part.

– Shyam Sundar

(To Read the Whole Series)

Series Navigation<< Can an IT Employee Fight the Company?Does onsite and High salary secure our Future? >>

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    • suresh on January 10, 2018 at 7:10 pm
    • Reply

    Neither fun nor problems – We demand high salary because stress is too much/incapable some times.
    We change companies for High Salaries.
    Though politics are there in firing, most are under performers.
    These guys start abusing their managers and company saying – They sacrificed their life – which is just crap.
    None of us work for the development of society or company, we work for salary. that is it!
    Yes, some/few real capable persons were fired, I agree. Because they could not do lobbying. Also, real. There was injustice to them!
    However, most of the people that were fired were under performers and obsolete.

    • IT employee on January 21, 2018 at 5:44 pm
    • Reply

    Industrial dispute act has few rules to be followed by companies when they do retrenchment. If company follow this minimum expectation, it reduce the pain of employee. If person worked for 20 years in the same company and asked to go after 20 year completion with reason as under performance, is it acceptable. If so, how company sustain with this employee for 2 decades. Verizon did layoffs for 1000 employees. Lot of news on this and it is covered in almost all media. But affected people did not come forward to take fight against the company. Reason is verizon paid 1 month salary for each and every years of service employee had in the company in addition to 2 months notice. Concept of VRS exist in govt sector also. My only point is follow some minimal legal proceedings instead of thinking only the profits

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