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Idea Cellular, Vodafone officials ask employees not to panic

Admin| Feb 02, 2017 - 01:04 AM India

Idea Cellular, Vodafone officials ask employees not to panic

MUMBAI: On Monday, while Idea Cellular was preparing to launch a spectrum of its digital apps, one of its employees got to know that Vodafone had indeed confirmed merger talks with the Aditya Birla owned ­company.

He, however, decided not to discuss what he had heard. “I am new in my role – what if I lose my job?” said the 33 year­ old employee who works as a middle manager with Idea Cellular. But he perhaps voiced the anxiety of the 30,000­ plus employees of both firms who have been hearing such murmurings for a while now.

Even vertical heads of both companies had stepped in to clear the air, and stressed that there was no reason to panic. On Monday night though, Sunil Sood MD and CEO in a letter admitted that merger talks were preliminary, and that there was no certainty that the deal would go through.

He also emphasized that employees should carry on trying to build market share and focus on “customer experience”. “I would like to emphasize that our business continues as usual, and we should continue to focus on our business priorities and regular operations,” Sood wrote in an email to the team.

Few kilometers away in Mumbai Idea Cellular’s MD Himanshu Kapania too stressed that talks were preliminary.

“We were told that this will take time and that there’s nothing to worry about for now. We were told to focus on work,” one of senior executives said. The Vodafone Group said that it’s “business as usual”. It declined to comment further, saying, “There’s no certainty that any transaction will be agreed, nor as to the terms and timing of any transaction.

Idea didn’t respond to emails seeking comment till press­time.

 

LAYOFF WORRIES

But despite both companies stating that there was no confirmation of any such alliance, water cooler conversations in both offices veered around possible layoffs, differing working styles of both companies, and how they will have to adapt to different cultures.

A Vodafone employee, who had been with the number two telco for four years, said that employees are expecting a 30% reduction in manpower if the merger indeed takes place.

“We are confused at the moment. Speculations were always around the merger, but confirmation by the companies proved our fears were right. Many employees have already started looking out,” the employee said on the condition of anonymity.

Recruiters such as Kris Lakshmikanth, founder chairman of search firm Headhunters India, said that layoffs will happen but will be restricted to seniors in divisions such as HR, finance, IT, besides circle heads. This is because one brand does not need two centre heads in the same geography.

Recruiters of both staffing and search firms said that layoffs may not be in large numbers as employee costs in telecom firms are about 6%, unlike in IT firms.

Recruiters are also expecting distribution circles to remain largely untouched. However, regions such as Gujarat and Mumbai/Maharashtra could see retrenchment as both firms have a strong presence in these areas, reckoned A Ramachandran, partner at search firm EMA Partners International.

It is the corporate arena that will see people go, confirmed the recruiter, who works in the telecom industry. Those with crore­plus salaries will not have it easy if the merger goes through, he explained.

Even junior levels will see movement because of the panic in the industry.

“We expect a flurry of resumes from junior levels, not because they will get laid off but because of the uncertainty about job security,” said Rituparna Chakraborty, cofounder and senior vice­president, Team Lease Services.

A senior manager at Idea conceded there are natural job security concerns when an M&A of this scale is under process, but clarified that as a long­timer in an organisation with Kumar Mangalam Birla parentage, he was confident that such concerns will be taken care of.

“Curiosity is ruling now, on whether this merger with Vodafone will actually go through or not, given the regulatory environment we operate in, and the uncertainties surrounding it,” he said.

An Idea manager, who did not wish to be named, said, “I would prefer representing Brand Idea, and not Brand Vodafone going forward, as I feel lot more connected to a brand that I’ve seen evolve eight­and­a­half years, and so am hopeful that the brand will prevail.”

Then, there are also the cultural changes that employees have to accept and adapt to.

Another senior manager in Vodafone India’s customer care department said that there could be some cultural challenges, going forward, in adjusting to working in an entity that would be co­managed by Indian and global promoters, from working in a pure MNC set­up.

But broadly, the merger talks with Idea, she said, are encouraging since “as a

Vodafone employee, I believe we’ll only get stronger once the two companies combine forces, and will be better equipped to tackle Jio”.

 

Source : http://content.timesjobs.com/idea-cellular-vodafone-officials-ask-employees-not-panic/

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