The latest victims of staff poaching are none other than the country's top recruitment firms. The Rs 700-crore (Rs 7 billion) organised recruitment industry in India suffers from attrition rates that are as high as 65 per cent.
Even the information technology-enabled services (ITeS) sector, infamous for very high employee turnover, has an average attrition rate of not more than 50 per cent.
"The attrition rates in this industry have grown significantly as compared with the last year. Many of those who join the recruitment industry leave to join the corporate sector. We, however, do not discourage that as they turn to be our own ambassadors," said K Pandia Rajan, managing director of Chennai-based Ma Foi Management Consultants Ltd.
In other words, recruitment firms are not the ones that are raiding each other. According to executives in recruitment firms, it is IT and ITeS companies that are poaching staff from recruitment firms to run their in-house human resources departments.
"One of the reasons for this could be that we cannot pay them on a par with the multinationals in the ITeS sector," said T Sreedhar, managing director of Hyderabad-based TMI Network.
He added that the recruitment industry was witnessing an exodus of staff because it was not yet considered to be a part of the "corporate sector".
"We ourselves are corporate entities but the reason given by most of people for leaving the recruitment industry is that they want to be a part of the corporate world," added Nirupama VG, associate director of Bangalore-based TeamLease Services Pvt Ltd.
She said, with no qualifications per se required to become a recruitment consultant, the industry was being plagued with many "sexually transmitted CEOs". By saying this, she meant those CEOs who were taking over businesses from their parents, without having any talent or experience in the sector. "But things are changing now," she added.
The Executive Recruiters Association, which represents selection and staffing organisations, is working out ways to help the industry get its due recognition.
"We are in discussions with a few colleges in various cities to introduce recruitment as an external subject. At present, HR is considered to be synonymous with recruitment though the former involves managing employees after they have been recruited," said Parvathy Krishnan, CEO of Cucumber Consultants and convenor of ERA Hyderabad Chapter.
The association is also looking at introducing certified courses in recruitment within the next six months. "We do not want people to join our industry on a stop-gap basis. It has to be a matter of choice," Krishnan added.