In 2008 when Harshita Verma decided to walk away from her first job at an information technology services company after barely two months into it, she could have been accused of being too picky. Her reason was that she was "not comfortable with the structure" and the managers there had not defined her key result areas.
Verma, who is Associate Manager - Corporate Brand and Relations at Apollo Tyres, has seen drastic changes in the way the tyre maker manages talent at the company. It skips top engineering and business schools and hires only from second rung institutes because their alumni stay longer. Apollo's HR chief Tapan Mitra has found another magnet for twentysomethings: a mandatory, structured training programme.
Still, faced with the challenge of engaging youngsters at their plants, the company has introduced the concept of mentors for its graduate engineer trainees at its plant in Baroda, Gujarat. "The environment at the plant is difficult. Not just for work. The mentors help youngsters deal with issues beyond work," says Mitra. Another change: performance feedback is now given every three months instead of 12 months earlier.
Even as all this rolls out, Apollo Tyres and its young and the restless are clear that salary hikes do not work as a retention tool. "Nobody wants lifelong employment. And they are very upfront about it," Mitra says. That's one learning India Inc. will find hard to digest.