ICICI Bank, which more than doubled its headcount in the past five years, has decided to go slow on hiring for now.
The country’s largest private sector lender has paused on fresh recruitment and, in many cases, isn’t even replacing those leaving the company.
Instead, it is focusing on improving the productivity and efficiency of its existing workforce.
“We believe given our scale of operations, employee additions through the last two years and our aspirations in terms of growth and productivity, we can do with a lesser number of employees. We have executed this strategy carefully, looking at the manpower in each of the functions, and wherever we believe productivity can be enhanced, we have not replaced attrition,” Executive Director N S Kannan told analysts during a recent interaction.
The bank had increased its headcount to 72,226 at the end of March this year from 35,256 at the end of March, 2010. It has hired about 14,000 employees in the past couple of years.
However, in the quarter ended September this year, its employee base decreased by 3,800.
The bank trimmed its workforce across segments, especially in retail banking. This helped it reduce operating expenses on a sequential basis.
Currently, ICICI Bank’s staff strength stands at about 69,000. Kannan says this is sufficient to drive the bank’s business growth, as most of its loans and assets are in segments that aren’t manpower-intensive.
“About 30 per cent of the loans would be domestic corporate, which does not consume too much manpower,” he said.
“Further, about 25 per cent of our asset base is from our foreign branches, in which the bulk of the funding is wholesale…on the lending side, the loans are to companies. It is not a manpower-intensive business...We have looked at it (the hiring strategy) in that context and said we can do a lot in terms of overall employee productivity.”
He added in the retail banking segment, the bank might hire a few employees, depending on the requirement. ALSO READ: Eye on profit, IT companies likely to cut hiring But here, too, the lender is seeing originating more loans from branches to manage the growth in this segment through existing staff.
Currently, retail advances account for 40 per cent of ICICI Bank’s loans.
The introduction of more technology platforms has also helped.
“Through the past 18 months, we have introduced a number of technology platforms such as tab banking and various mobile-based applications. We expect this to translate into better people productivity,” Kannan said.