Cognizant cuts bench time, puts pressure on employees

Cognizant cuts bench time, puts pressure on employees
BENGALURU: Cognizant has reduced the maximum bench time for employees, opening up the possibility of higher numbers of exits in the coming months. The Nasdaqlisted IT services firm has shrunk the bench time from 60 days to 35 days for those employees who aren’t on billable projects. After 35 days, they could be asked to leave. The formal exit process may take another 60 to 90 days.

Previously, such employees got more grace time to find projects within their business units or in the larger corporate pool. Employees who are reluctant to relocate to a different city, or move to other functions or domains might end up having to hit the exit button earlier, a source said.

An email sent to Cognizant on the revised bench policy did not elicit a response till the time of going to press. The latest move is part of the company’s overarching fit-for-growth strategy, which has a sharp focus on driving meritocracy.

“The interventions for those on the bench will kick in early and they have no choice but to show flexibility of relocating or refreshing their skillsets in newer technologies. Companies have become less tolerant to those on the bench.

A steep learning curve and the pressure to upskill with shifts in technology cycles is only accelerating the process,” said a senior executive who was laidoff recently.

Cognizant, which after years of robust double-digit growth has seen growth rates sliding to single digits, has been taking a number of steps to return to growth. Part of that is an effort to have an employee base that’s more agile and responsive to changing client requirements. Cognizant has said it will part with some 13,000 employees in the coming months out of which some 5,000 would be reskilled to see if they could fit into other roles. While the company did not provide a split, most of the layoffs are likely to be in India, which has over 70% of Cognizant’s 2.9 lakh employees.

When TOI asked CEO Brian Humphries in a recent interview on how they were identifying the 7,000 employees that the company plans to let go, he said, “It’s not aligned to one business unit or vertical, it’s broad-based. What I’m trying to do is right-size the pyramid so that we remove some middle management and senior management without impacting customer engagement or satisfaction or client centricity.”