With a number of new units coming up across the country during the current five-year plan (2007-12), it is becoming harder for companies to retain their employees. Higher growth opportunities in the country and West Asia (which is adding over 100 million tonnes by 2010) have fuelled attrition in the cement industry.
For instance, Ambuja Cements has an attrition rate of up to 15 per cent, while the rate at UltraTech Cement, a part of the Aditya Birla Group, is even higher.
"Attrition has been a big problem. We have improved our compensation package to the best of our ability and at the same time we have started inducting graduate engineers and diploma-holding engineers as trainees in our plants," said Ambuja Cements managing director A L Kapur.
In the last two years, Ambuja Cements took over 300 engineers from regional colleges across the country and allocated them to different units. If required, 200 more can be inducted next year to make up for the attrition, said Kapur.
UltraTech Cement chief financial officer K C Birla said, "Attrition is higher at 15-18 per cent mainly at the initial stages. We have taken steps to contain it with introduction of Esops, deffered compensation schemes and improved salary packages.
Upcoming capacities in West Asia too have contributed in shifting of industry employees." In the case of north India-based cement player JK Cements, the attrition level is lower compared to that of bigger players, but has increased in the last two years from negligible to 5 per cent.
The company is coming up with its new unit in Karnataka with a capacity of 4 million tonnes, for which it is hiring fresh graduates.
But it apprehends that a majority of them will not stay back.
A K Saraogi, chief financial officer, JK Cements, said, "We are comfortable at senior levels, but at junior levels, attrition is a problem, especially in the marketing department.