India Outsourcers Seek Recession Help from Workers

Infosys, Cisco, HP, and a few other IT companies in India are tapping their own employees for ways to beat the economic crisisand finding a rich vein of ideas

At a time when layoff and cost-cutting dominate news space and drive conversations in corner rooms, corridors and staff canteens of India Inc, causing widespread panic and uncertainty, a handful of IT firms including Infosys, Cisco, HP, NIIT and CSC, to name a few, are encouraging their employees to chip in with suggestions to overcome the global economic crisis. Besides getting access to some valuable inputs, the move will help these companies instill a sense of confidence into a flock living in constant fear of getting the axe.

"Cisco employees feel like members of a problem-solving team and not mute spectators , who are anxious whether they will be impacted personally," says Cisco India director , human resources, Subash A K Rao.

The networking major is using multiple means of communications like meetings, virtual meetings, emails, blogs, video messages and open house sessions to keep employees posted on the overall situation and help them post their ideas. "The employees' ability to share ideas and suggestions across functional and hierarchical boundaries makes them a part of the company's response and actions," says Mr Rao.

Infosys has set up a portal for employees to generate ideas ranging from simple energy saving and transportation to other possible steps for the software giant to reduce costs. The company claims it has already received more than a 1,000 ideas and is in the process of evaluating them. The portal is the first in a series of cost-cutting measures.

Experts say such initiatives help. "When employees design and implement the solutions effectively, it helps the company achieve success both during good and bad times. Both company and employees feel responsible and committed to each other," says Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) associate director, HR, Anuj Kumar.

CSC has set up a special task force of employees to explore avenues of cost containment, reduction and launched special internal webinars to generate awareness across their business units to facilitate better cross-sell . The response, says the company, has been overwhelming.

NIIT has a web interface 'assist' , which is a single window facility for employees to give suggestions, feedback and share their ideas that could be taken up and implemented across the organisation. HP employees are also coming up with ideas around saving energy to mobile technology platforms. Their ideas are abundant, imaginative and well constructed.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.