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Long working hours, travel time add to stress of BPO staff

Long working hours, travel time add to stress of BPO staff
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First Published: Sat, Nov 17 2007. 01 28 AM IST
Updated: Sat, Nov 17 2007. 01 28 AM IST
New Delhi: While unnatural working hours remains an issue with those working in the business process outsourcing sector but, according to a survey, employees rank long working hours and travel time higher in the list of factors causing stress. The survey has been conducted by technology research firm IDC India Ltd for Dataquest magazine.
However, the survey also shows that the BPO industry continues to find favour with the youth, with an overall improved employee satisfaction level in 2007 compared to last year.
Among factors that caused stress at work, health issues appeared at number six, after travel time, work timing, insufficient holidays, work load and long hours. Of the employees surveyed, 32% had sleep disorders, 25% had digestive disorders and 20% had an eye-sight problem.
“Health as a stress factor is indeed a concern, with a fifth of the employees citing it as a factor,” said Kapil Dev Singh, country manager, IDC India Ltd in his statement in the survey release. “The good part is that the industry is sensitive to this and many companies are taking measures ranging from checking indoor air quality to testing food in labs,” added Singh.
The five firms to come on top in terms of employee satisfaction were vCustomer Services India Pvt Ltd, e4e Business Solutions, IBM Daksh Business Process Services Pvt Ltd, Genpact Ltd and Wipro BPO, part of Wipro Technologies Ltd. The survey measured employee satisfaction on 11 parameters including percentage of last salary hike, company image, company culture, job content or growth, training, compensation and appraisal system.
The company that was ranked first,vCustomer India, says it conducts an internal survey bi-annually to find out the expectations of employees. “We believe in a work culture that encourages empowerment and engagement,” says Navin Joshua, executive director, vCustomer India. “On the basis of feedback received from our surveys, corrective actions and interventions are planned to ensure employee satisfaction.”
While large firms ranked higher in terms of work culture and image, niche companies performed better on factors such as salary and job profile. Mid-sized companies which had between 1,000 and 5,000 employees made up half the 19-rank survey.
However, companies like Infosys BPO Ltd, WNS Global Services Pvt Ltd, Intelenet Global Services Ltd and Indian arms of Convergys Corp. and TelePerformance Group Inc. did not participate in the survey.
The average salary hike, at 14.8%, was lower in 2007 compared to last year when the average salary hike was 17.2%. According to the survey, lower salary hike resulted in an increase in the attrition rate to 20% from 18% in 2006. Nearly one-third of the employees in the survey said that salary was the most important reason for their leaving a company. About one-fifth of the respondents said lack of growth opportunities made them switch jobs. Employees cited higher education and job timings as the third highest reason for leaving their jobs.
“Odd timings have impact on health and social life and a number of candidates leave for these two reasons,” says E. Balaji, CEO, Ma Foi Management Consultants Ltd, a firm which mainly hires for BPOs. “In fact , BPO employees generally prefer to work for the UK shifts—which normally ends by 10pm—rather than the US shifts, which means working all night,” adds Balaji.
Interestingly, for employees in the knowledge process outsourcing firms, the topmost reason for switching job was found to be job satisfaction, and not compensation, which is the main reason why their counterparts in the voice-based call centres change jobs.
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First Published: Sat, Nov 17 2007. 01 28 AM IST