Life in a BPO
Well, this is not an article which describes the A-Z of business process outsourcing to Asian countries. This article is an honest effort to figure out if the employees of these BPO companies are getting the desired benefits. BPO's have generated huge employment opportunities in India and few other Asian countries for over a decade. In fact, it has given the 'bread n butter' (read as pea nuts) to many talented youth of these countries. When I assess my life in BPO's, I can undoubtedly say that I have learned many new things from a BPO career. However, at the end of the day when one look at the bank balance (after 5-6 years of BPO life) and hospital bills (hypothetical), the question that one should ask thyself is 'Is this what I wanted in my life?'. If your answer is 'No', then you may continue reading this article.
When I joined a reputed BPO in 2007, My package was Rs.7000/month. Which I know is certainly not even 1/4th of what the client pay per employee. The volume of work that the 'associate class' do is certainly worth for a decent sum. Most of the BPO jobs are during late night hours irrespective of the fact whether the work is 'Live' or 'Deferred'. Having said that, I should also mention the fact that the quality of work that is being outsourced is of clerical level. Either it will be a 'voice based' process or a 'Non-voice' process. In either case, all that you need is good communication skills and basic computer knowledge. Those young graduates who aspire for a career in BPO industry should rethink if this is your cup of tea. Unfortunately, the complexity and severity of most of the process is nothing but just hyped. Unlike those processes which requires technical know how and critical thinking the rest all are just 'Ctrl+c' and 'Ctrl+v'.
Therefore, it's high time that the graduates start exploring industries other than BPO. Once you are in this industry then there is hardly a way out. My personal experiences are also not that great when it comes to switching of industry. The enormous work experience that you gain in a BPO is not valid when you try for a switch over. No matter whether you worked for a banking process, customer service, Automotive process, finance process, Collections, procurement and supply chain or a healthcare process, the prospective employer from the core industry won't give you preference. Once your work life kick starts, every small job (let it be a BPO or a normal sales job) will add up years to your Resume. Therefore, those who work in BPO just to kill time be cautious and be ready with an answer to cover up while you attend an interview in your desired industry.
During the times when recession tsunami hit the corporate world, Indian BPO's survived the wave by taking extreme measures like Lay off, cost cutting and axing the annual appraisals. However, the economy gradually picked up and new businesses started to flow in again. The boom which was there in beginning of last decade was over by then. Few BPO's not only reduced the pay package to mere peanuts but also axed the employee benefits and facilities. They removed Paper towels from toilets, Paper cups, Transport facility, Dustbins, Vending machines etc etc. This may have reduced their running costs however can they claim employee satisfaction? Employees are the foundation of any company and it can't be their corner stones and organisation values as they claim to be. The BPO's are largely taking advantage of the current economic scenario in India. As a nation we are almost on the verge of Inflation and prices are rising high day by day. This has also slowed down the job market in India in a big way. This may be the reason why the unsatisfied class is still holding on (matter of survival).
How night shifts affect your health?
Working for long hours every night and unhealthy diet along with lack of exposure to sunlight can lead to back pain and wrist pain. The lack of exposure to sunlight can lead to Vitamin D deficiency and in turn will make your bones frail.
How do they impress the client and attract more business?
Every contract will have a clause where in the BPO promises the client an annual discount of 5% or more on the billing. Some even go ahead and promise the reduction of a full time employee and add this burden of extra work on the remaining FTE's or hire some one new by paying peanuts. The client will be shown the reduced headcount and the additional FTE will work on a dummy id. This is an ongoing process in most BPO's. However this additional FTE wont affect their earnings much as they expect new business from the client. The client will always be impressed to see the accuracy and high productivity in manual processing which they can never achieve onshore. The trick here is the BPO's streamline the process by showing a calculation on how the overall processing time can be reduced by cut down of unnecessary steps. This simple steps will be introduced in a multiplied calculation on hourly basis and shows the yearly benefit to impress the client. The clients who are already impressed by the processing skills will fall for this data. During my on the job training in the USA, I observed that the clients are not well versed in spreadsheets as we the employees are. This is a major reason I think the outsourced processes always exceeds expectations when it comes to accuracy and productivity that too well within the TAT and SLA guidelines. Still, my question remains unanswered, 'Who is reaping the maximum benefits in outsourcing business?'. Is it the client company because they find it cost efficient and more productive; or is it the BPO's who squeeze their employees and deprive them of the basic amenities to increase their revenue; or is it the poor employees (both management class and associate class) who earn a living from the outsourcing industry. Whom do you think is reaping the optimum results in outsourcing?