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I work at a company with a software team of a little more than a hundred people, and the company is seeing at least three to four resignations every month from the software team alone. It takes HR some time to find a replacement, so we recently received an email from the General Manager, requesting employees to give a 3 month notice when resigning, requesting us to understand the time required in hiring.

Perhaps as a result of this, managers have been instructed to tell employees that "you have to complete your 90 days notice period", even though the employment contract says

"Your services are terminable with three months' notice or salary in lieu thereof on either side"

Employees who feel afraid, end up asking the new company to extend the notice period to three months, but not everyone can do so, and I feel it is not right on the part of management to ask this of employees.

Since this appears as a desperate attempt on the part of the management to either scare the existing employees into not resigning or is a genuine attempt at creating enough time for recruitment and training, is there something I can suggest to HR about improving their process, rather than threaten employees?

Some ideas of what HR could do:
1. If HR could make it known that anyone who was actively looking to jump ship, could privately inform HR about it, so that HR could start looking for a replacement even before the notice period is served? It would require making an exception to the possibility of getting fired.
2. Since there is no guarantee that HR would find the appropriate replacement even in 3 months, they could ask the employee if after serving a 52 day notice period and joining the new company, they could come back to the old company as a consultant for a few days and train the new hire whom HR managed to recruit only after 3.5 or 4 months? Assuming that the skill of the employee is a niche skill.
3. HR could tell senior management that the approach of forcing employees to serve their 3 month notice period is only going to hurt the company reputation and reduce advocacy.

Are any of these ideas actually feasible? Or are there better ideas? This is a very prevalent bad practice, especially in India; as shown in this question.

What is it that allows employees to serve just a 2 week notice period, in non-Asian countries? Is HR really able to weed out fake applicants and recruit that quickly?

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    I think you're going to have to find a lawyer. – Lawrence Aiello Nov 15 '15 at 11:09
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    Why are people leaving? That is the question hr should sort out, recruitment is not the answer – Ed Heal Nov 15 '15 at 13:20
  • @Ed: Agreed. They are trying to (unsuccessfully) fix the reason why people are leaving. But the query I have asked is about better solutions to the recruitment and notice period. HR & management in many companies in India seem quite desperate. Solutions would help. – Anon Nov 15 '15 at 13:24
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    Why not improve working environment? Free tea/coffee. Gym membership? Good equipment? Free fruit. Etc – Ed Heal Nov 15 '15 at 13:31
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    @Anon The two week notice is normally because people will usually have their next job arranged before they give notice to their present one. – Myles Nov 16 '15 at 18:24
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The answer is no, hiring is not any faster. Instead, companies work to prevent needing to hire so desperately in the first place.

In order to prevent attrition, companies usually work hard to keep their employees happy. Good benefits, flexible rules, pleasant culture, generally treating their employees well, are all important to keeping them happy. A company's employees are its most valuable resource, so companies should work hard to find the best and keep them happy. A good company will constantly try to evaluate itself and the happiness of its employees, to make sure it's doing all it can to keep its employees happy, to prevent them from becoming unhappy and leaving.

Secondly, it's a good idea to constantly be searching out new talent, hire slightly more than is strictly needed, but no one the company can't afford. That way, when someone does leave, the remaining people can pick up the slack without a problem.

Lastly, if a company is suffering from attrition, it may need to loosen is hiring standards to find replacements faster. The company should generally not rely on this method though, because a less competent person will not be nearly as effective as a skilled person, so it will probably need more employees, or resources to train them, to accomplish the same, and hiring a whole bunch of incompetent people may chase off the skilled ones, resulting in a downward spiral of attrition.

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    I agree with you, but lowering standards does work to speed up recruitment and could temporarily resolve the attrition problem. It's much easier for folks on the right side of the bell curve to find another job. The company has made their bed and is going to have to lie in it for a while if they can't get what's causing the attrition sorted out. The company probably should hire contractors while they get the issue sorted. That generally goes faster, you don't have to keep the less skilled folks around, and HR can be looking for their replacement during the term of the contract. – ColleenV parted ways Nov 15 '15 at 17:20
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Be nicer to candidates that get rejected. Don't just ignore them. In some way, your company should be hiring people faster because they're filling jobs in parallel. Someone should call qualified candidates who don't get the current job and ask to keep them on a short list because new jobs are opening all the time. They contact the person and hopefully they didn't find another job.

This isn't ideal, but it's better than nothing. Your company doesn't see any need to address why people are leaving. Programmers are just a part in a machine that just gets replaced by one just like it. They've created a one-way relationship and are relying on contracts and oppressive hiring practices to give them an unfair advantage. It is catching up to them and they don't even know it.

You could suggest it's 2015 and not 1915.

  • They are actually trying to retain employees, but the salaries are half the market rate and everything...absolutely everything done in the name of employee retention is done just for the namesake of it. The domain the company is in, also has a lot of security restrictions which make other companies more favourable. Like Kai said, the company has loosened its hiring standards, and now the skilled employees are also leaving because of the incompetent ones who are joining. Ironically, even the incompetent ones are quick to leave :) – Anon Nov 17 '15 at 14:28
  • @Anon - what are they doing to retain employees? – user8365 Nov 25 '15 at 13:38
  • To retain employees, they are conducting surveys for Great Place to Work, organizing for team lunches, competitions, trainings, feedback sessions, ensuring that everyone has a "buddy" at work, making false promises when they realize a good employee is making plans to leave or offering bonuses to good employees, bringing up the salaries (which are 50% to 30% still lower than the market rate). Basically everything that is done, is just done for the namesake, and people realize that quickly. – Anon Nov 26 '15 at 13:51
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Your notice period is the notice period in your contract.

Your company can ask you to accept a change in your contract, but they obviously can't force you. If you don't accept a change to 90 days notice, they can fire you (probably with the old 52 day notice), which is exactly not what they want anyway. But if you want to leave anyway, that doesn't make any difference to you.

An email going around requesting something isn't even attempting to change your contract. Again, the worst thing that can happen if you ignore the email is that you are fired - which is pointless when you are giving notice anyway.

However, if the contract that you signed says "90 days notice", then it is 90 days notice. If it says "90 days notice or payment in lieu", then again they can't just change this. They can ask you to accept the change and either fire you if you don't, or live with it.

  • Thanks. I agree with you, but the query is also about how can HR improve their hiring process. An answer to that can also help HR people all across India. Right now they seem to be acting in desperation because they have no other alternative. – Anon Nov 15 '15 at 13:11
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    @Anon how will changes to notice periods help with recruiting? – Pepone Nov 15 '15 at 15:16
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This isn't your problem to fix (unless your role is in HR or senior management, which it doesn't sound like it is). You're leaving - it isn't up to you to try and fix a dysfunctional company which thinks that the solution to a high attrition rate is to try and remove their employees option to shorten their notice period. Move on to your new role with as much good grace as possible and be glad :-)

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    I agree it isn't my problem to fix, but the query is about giving HR some solutions which they could try implementing instead of threatening employees. It could help other HR people in India too, who chance upon this question on stackexchange. I've updated my question with a line at the bottom of the question – Anon Nov 15 '15 at 13:19
  • The contract states 3 months - they are not trying to extend the notice period – Pepone Nov 15 '15 at 15:15
  • @Anon the answer to that is as already commented: fix the problems which are causing the 33-50% attrition rate, not the symptoms. – Philip Kendall Nov 15 '15 at 15:45
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    The terms say "...in lieu thereof on either side". So it's not just the employer, but the employee also who can shorten the notice period. – Anon Nov 15 '15 at 16:20
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    @PhilipKendall Regarding "Salary in lieu of notice": In India if you want to serve a notice period shorter than what is in your contract there will often be a buy out clause where you (or your new employer) will pay to release you from service to the company early. The buy out rate will usually match the employees salary (ie leaving one month early = one month pay). – Myles Nov 16 '15 at 18:18

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