The tech hiring 'war,' as it seems, is refusing to die down. Industry experts believe the crunch of talent and the consequent rush to bag relevant talent is not going anywhere. The pandemic-propelled requirement for techies has led to a steep rise in compensation and this tussle may last for another year easily.
But, it is not just the rise in salaries to match their Silicon Valley peers that is changing for engineers. As it gets increasingly difficult to retain these employees, companies are lining up benefits and flexible work options to lure techies.
The latest to join the changing hiring landscape with a proposition to move away from the traditional five- or six-day workweek is the fintech startup Slice. The company has rolled out a three-day workweek program named 'Code in 3' and will hire full-time engineers, product managers, as well as designers under this program.
Slice issues Visa cards and the spending on the cards can be repaid by customers in three installments. In its next phase of growth, the startup aims to foray into United Payments Interface (UPI), stocks and alternative investments, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) etc.
Speaking to Moneycontrol , Slice's Founder and CEO Rajan Bajaj said that Code in 3 stemmed from the need to extend more flexibility to engineers looking to work on other projects beyond their full-time jobs. Plus, the company which has 450 employees currently, is hoping for the flexibility to attract more talent in the current scenario.
"Our requirement for talent at slice is growing rapidly, we are barely able to match our hiring requirements. Through this program we plan to set up independent teams that will work on our upcoming projects so we can continue our expansion plans," Bajaj explained.
"Many engineers who are working with big-ticket IT firms want to work on their own projects, but do not want to let go of the stability that a job provides. This will help them do both and our plan is to hire over 100 engineers in the next year under Code in 3," he added.
3-day work = 3-day salary?
While many startups globally are experimenting and adopting a four-day workweek, a three-day workweek is unheard of. The latest in India to adopt a four-day workweek was cybersecurity company TAC Security.
So with working hours limited to 20 to 25 hours a week, will the compensation be the same as other 40 hours a week jobs?
Rajan said that the techies will be looking at a salary cut owing to the reduced working hours and in exchange for the rest of the week that may allow them to pursue other interests.
"We will be offering competitive salaries, but they may have to take a slight cut over their current salaries," Bajaj explained.
Three days a week is 60 percent of the work per month, but slice will be offering more than 60 percent of the current salaries of these engineers along with all benefits as extended to other employees, he added.
The challenges of implementing new work models
Bajaj said that the company is viewing this as a long-term strategy and has mapped a plan to hire over 1000 engineers under this program in the next five years. "This is not an experiment for us," he said.
The question next is whether this model will set a trend for other startups to follow, or may turn out to be unsustainable?
Rituparna Chakraborty, Co-founder, and EVP at human resources firm TeamLease believes this could go either way.
"Talent might get drawn in by the flexibility and the coolness of the option. But, we have to give it some time to see how it turns out," she said.
Kamal Karanth, Co-founder at Xpheno a specialist staffing company, said that just giving three days a week to a project adds stress for employees.
"While only time will tell how successful the project is, from our experience those three days become quite stressful for employees. Also, the rest of the ecosystem including customers and suppliers will not be working just on those three days, so that is a challenge," Karanth said.
However, the company needs to be prepared that a model like this can see high attrition, according to Chakraborty. "You will have people joining and leaving. If both the employer and employee are okay with this and it does not affect the projects then it may work," she explained.
Additionally, the four-day gap before an employee gets back to the company's same project is a long pause, in turn affecting productivity, Karanth added.
But since BharatPe's BMW bike offering for engineers caught attention in July this year, the talent war has only gotten fierce.
"This may be a good model but most companies are mainly finding ways to attract talent. All these offerings are diverse and it becomes difficult for employees to compare apples to oranges. They are trying to make it as incomparable as possible to retain talent," he said.
So will the desperation to retain talent lead to other startups following suit on slice's Code in 3?
"This model is unlikely to be replicated anytime soon. People are still scrambling with the thought of a four-day workweek. Compressing that further will be a challenge in terms of changing company processes. This will become a wider trend only if a Google or Infosys adopts it," according to Karanth.
Meanwhile, as the debate between which model works best continues, large IT firms are soon looking to return to work. While Wipro leaders have already started working from the office two days a week, giants TCS and Infosys too will have a large share of its workforce in the office soon.
Slice currently has over four million registered customers and has been issuing over 100,000 cards per month. Since it was founded in 2019, the startup has raised a total of $30 million. In its last funding round, Slice raised $20 million from its investors Gunosy and Blume Ventures.
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