Eight of the top 10 private companies by market capitalisation took their foot off the brake pedal and stepped up hiring during 2021-22 compared with the Covid year 2020-21, with net additions of over 3 lakhs to their human resource. Amongst sectors, the year witnessed maximum hiring in services — particularly retail, IT services and banking — as companies tapped into Tier-2, Tier-3 and Tier-4 cities for manpower.
An analysis of annual reports of top listed companies by The Indian Express showed that during the Covid year 2020-21, the top 10 corporations reported net hiring of just over 1 lakh, slowing down and in some cases, and even cutting down on their human resource investment. Net hiring numbers factors in the number of people that may have left their company.
Among the companies, Reliance Industries Ltd saw the most net addition of employees with 1.07 lakh in 2021-22, compared with 40,716 in the previous financial year, with a bulk of the hiring outside of its core petrochemicals business. The largest chunk of its hiring was in its retail vertical, followed by telecom and tech vertical Jio. It hired the least numbers in its mainstay oil, gas and petrochemical vertical – 1,843 during the year.
The retail division of Reliance Industries hired 1.69 lakh people. The vertical also employs the highest percentage of non-supervisory, or entry-level jobs, within the company at 73.7 per cent. “Retail employs a young staff, typically in the twenties. With the reopening of the economy, multiple opportunities opened up for young employees, enabling them to explore new sectors and workforce models,” the company said in its annual report for 2021-22. “Additionally, Reliance Retail is committed to providing employment opportunities across India with a special focus on Tier 2, 3 and 4 towns over and above the metro cities,” it said.
Reliance’s next competitor in retail — Avenue Supermarts — recruited 5,045 people in 2021-22, compared with a net reduction of 1,364 people in the previous year. Tata Group’s Titan Company also marginally increased headcount in the year-ended March 31, 2022, having witnessed a net reduction in 2020-21.
The information technology and software services sector, which is the biggest organised segment employer in the country, also saw acceleration in net hiring as it braced the attrition crisis caused by a surge in the number of new job openings in the sector. India’s largest software company Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) reported net hiring of 1.04 lakh during 2021-22, compared with 40,185 in 2020-21. Infosys, the second biggest IT company by market capitalisation, saw net addition of 54,396 in the year-ended March 31, 2022, compared with 17,248 in 2020-21.
In the TCS annual report, the company’s Chief Human Resources Officer Milind Lakkad noted: “…it has been a challenging year for employers all over the world. In our industry, it wasn’t as much due to the Great Resignation, as a churn within the industry. Peers who had not anticipated the sharp demand recovery scrambled to fulfil it by poaching at scale from other companies. That triggered a cycle of hiring and counter-hiring of each other’s employees, sending attrition rates shooting across the industry”.
“This massive infusion of fresh talent by us, as well as by others in the industry, should start easing the problem in FY 2023. There are some early signs of this. Our attrition is plateauing on a quarterly annualised basis. LTM (last 12 months) attrition will likely rise further in the first half of FY 2023 and after that, it should start tapering,” he said.
Banking and financial services in the private sector also saw a step up in hiring with companies such as HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Bajaj Finance and HDFC Ltd reporting net additions. HDFC Bank recruited 21,486 people in 2021-22 on a net basis (making up for a sixth of its headcount), compared with 3,122 in 2020-21. Its private sector rival ICICI Bank hired 7,094 in the last financial year, compared to net reduction of 389 people in 2020-21. Bajaj Finance also saw a jump in its HR strength with net additions of 6,879 people, against 1,577 in 2020-21.
Among the top 10 private sector listed companies, FMCG giant Hindustan Unilever witnessed flat hiring growth maintaining its total headcount to around 21,000 people for the last three financial years. Adani Transmission Ltd completed the top 10 tally being the only company in the list to have seen its headcount reduce to 11,178 as of March 31 this year, from 11,922 from a year ago, and 12,305 as of March 31, 2020.
Among other sectors to have reversed the Covid trend are airlines, represented by India’s largest carrier IndiGo. Its parent company InterGlobe Aviation saw net additions of 2,453 people in 2021-22, compared with net reduction of 4,101 people in 2020-21. Similarly, India’s biggest carmaker Maruti Suzuki added 1,004 people on a net basis in 2021-22, against a net reduction of 690 people in 2020-21. Its rival Tata Motors, however, proved to be an exception, making only 1,514 net additions in 2021-22, over 8,240 net additions in 2020-21.
Similarly, engineering and construction company Larsen & Toubro also added only 1,160 people on a net basis last financial year, compared to 3,640 net additions in 2020-21.
Looking ahead, corporates are expected to boost their recruitment plans. As per an employment outlook report by TeamLease, Indian companies’ intent to hire has gradually increased to 61 per cent for the ongoing July-September quarter, from 34 per cent in April-June quarter of 2021-22.
“Across geographical locations, Tier-2 cities exhibit the highest increase in the Intent to Hire this quarter from the previous, although this increase is marginally higher compared to that for Metro & Tier-1 cities,” TeamLease said in its report.
“Engineering, and marketing roles show a dramatic increase in Hiring Intent for the forthcoming quarter. The Hiring Intent for Engineering roles sees a staggering 13 per cent increase to 70 per cent. And Hiring Intent rises by a substantial 10 per cent for Marketing roles, to 63 per cent. Sales and Information Technology (IT) see an increase in Hiring Intent by 8 per cent apiece, to touch 90 per cent and 83 per cent, respectively, for the forthcoming quarter. Blue Collar job roles show a significant 7 per cent rise, from 50 per cent during the previous term, to 57 per cent for the forthcoming quarter,” the recruitment agency said.