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Workers at an outsourcing centre in Bengaluru February 29, 2012 (representational image).Reuters file

When the going gets tough, Indian IT software services companies prefer to go slow on hiring. The recent quarterly results (December quarter, or Q3) by Infosys, TCS, Wipro and HCL Technologies show that 13,100 employees were hired on a net basis in Q3. Multiple headwinds such as automation, global uncertainty, H-1B visa conundrum arising from protectionist stance by the Donald Trump administration could make things further difficult for these companies in the future.

Read: Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka, HR head Shankar make tough comments on jobs, hiring

The net addition for TCS and Wipro was 6,978 and 4,891 employees, respectively, for the December 2016 quarter while Infosys reported a fall of 66, heralding a new trend in IT hiring characterised by increasing job automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and possible restrictions on H-1B visas by the Donald Trump-led US administration. HCL Technologies saw its employee headcount go up by 1,297 in December quarter.

Read: Visa restrictions and remittances, not trade dynamics cause for concern

The quartet — Infosys, TCS, HCL Technologies and Wipro — had 8,68,481 employees as of December 31, 2016 as against 8,55,381 employees at the end of September 2016 quarter. Tech Mahindra had 1,12,866 employees as of September 30, 2016. 

The utilisation rate (including trainees) for Infosys and Wipro improved to 77.8 percent and 71.6 percent, respectively, in Q3 in comparison to 77.7 percent and 71.2 percent, respectively, at the end of the September 2016 quarter. HCL Technologies reported a fall in utilisation rate to 84.6 percent.

At a net level (excluding trainees), the utilisation rate in Q3 for Infosys and Wipro was 81.9 percent, a marginal decline from Q2.   

Infosys had added 2,779 employees in September 2016 quarter and 5,407 employees in December 2015 quarter. Wipro added 375 employees in Q2.

Mindtree, a mid-sized IT services company, saw its employee strength fall to 16,099 at the end of Q3 from 16,219 as of September 30, 2016.

Wipro, Infosys, TCS and HCL Technologies declared their December quarter results between January 12 and 25. 

Company Employees as of Dec. 31, 2016 Employees as of Sep. 30, 2016 Change
Infosys 199,763 199,829 (-)66
TCS 378,497* 371,519 6,978
Wipro 179,129 174,238 4,891
HCL Tech 111,092 109,795 1,297
Total 868,481 855,381 13,100

*: 34.6 percent of TCS employees are women. 

Data sourced from company filings with the BSE.

Share prices of IT companies were trading in a narrow range on Friday. Infosys was almost flat at Rs 941, Wipro down 1.28 percent at Rs 467, TCS up 0.52 percent at Rs 2,365 and HCL Technologies at 843. 

The BSE IT index was up 0.46 percent while the benchmark index Sensex was trading 0.91 percent higher at 27,960 at around 12.05 pm.