Mahindra group going slow on niche-segment hiring as auto slowdown bites

With its flagship auto business suffering heavily from the continuing slowdown, the Mahindra group is going slow on hiring limiting its headcount addition to select niche segments like data analytics and machine learning among others.

The SUV-to-tractor maker employees around 2 lakh people across the group now and its auto business has been facing heavy headwinds since the past one year. Despite the best rains in a quarter of a century, farmers are not buying tractors, where it is the industry leader.

In the first quarter the auto industry reported worst sales in two decades and the deep plunge continued in the second quarter as well.

"Fresh hiring will be limited. If a huge growth comes then we have to do a lot of hiring. But for now, we will be more selective, mostly in niche segments like data analytics and machine learning among others," group executive vice- president, human capital and leadership development Prince Augustin said on Thursday at a CII HR conclave.

He blamed the increasing layoffs in the auto sector to the too much dependence on one category. "Going forward the auto industry cannot not engage huge manpower it employs today. The entire manpower will get redeployed to other sectors," he added.

Admitting that Mahindra is also impacted but not as badly as the rest of the industry, thanks to its diverse portfolio, he said, "we have a portfolio of products-- trucks, pick-ups, SUVs and cars are only a very small segment of our business. So we are not impacted in a big way and our diverse portfolio will help us tide over the crisis."

Augustin was quick to add that the group has not laid off any permanent employees so far but are reskilling them.

"About 30 percent at of our permanent workforce undergo reskilling at any point in time and we spend Rs 500- 600 crore on training annually. But for contractual workforce, their employment depends on demand, which has been fluctuating for long now," he said, adding most of those affected are contractual employees from automotive and tractors segments.

On salary hike, Augustine said, in FY20 it will be subdued, where we gave 6-10 percent hike across the board.