Brain-drain at ONGC as graduates move out

Vol 27, PW 8 (18 Apr 24) People & Policy

At least 28 young employees quit ONGC in the first three months of this year (2024), and some speculate that its new promotions policy is to blame.

"Right now, it doesn't seem like anyone cares," says a source. "No one tried to stop them from leaving, and there are plenty of others looking for jobs (at ONGC); many of these (E1 level) graduate trainees are from the exploration side, but others are from all disciplines except human resources."

Most are engineers, geologists or geophysicists from renowned institutes such as the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) who took the General Aptitude Test Examination (GATE), a prerequisite for engineers joining ONGC. A source says young people have left ONGC for better prospects elsewhere for many years.

But the frequency has increased since a new recruitment and promotions policy was announced on December 26 (2023), which imposes barriers on promotions for young people. "Some (of those who have quit since January 1, 2024) say they are preparing for the Indian civil service examinations, but many are joining oil companies in Qatar, Kuwait or elsewhere in the Middle East," adds a source.

He claims a director even went as far as to say "let them leave" while another former director HR is believed to have suggested recruiting people from less reputable institutes as they are more likely to stay on because they are less likely to find better jobs overseas. Most of those who quit cite personal reasons.

However, their colleagues claim the real reasons are the promotions policy at ONGC, the lure of better pay elsewhere, frustration at difficulties dealing with ONGC unions, and a lack of defined roles and responsibilities. "One officer complained that his boss asked him to clear the office lawn," we hear.

"'Is that what I'm here for?' he asked; no role or responsibility is defined." In 2023, a senior geologist from the IIT quit the Jorhat asset.

Another two officers from IIT-Mumbai and IIT-ISM Dhanbad quit in 2022-23. "One of the officers had excellent presentation skills and analytical ability," says a disappointed officer.

"ONGC is losing talented people."