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BPO firms head-hunt in smaller cities
R Raghavendra in Bangalore | October 09, 2003 08:24 IST
To control the workforce attrition pandemic, to stave off poaching and to get the economics of recruitment right, more and more business process outsourcing companies seem to be opting for staff from non-metros or B and C-category cities.
Such recruitment centres give a firm presence in "high catchment areas" and enable it to hire the best available talent on an ongoing basis.
EXL Service Inc, a United States-incorporated business process outsourcing company and a well-known third-party BPO service provider for the US and United Kingdom, is currently hiring 300 people per month.
As part of its recruitment strategy, in addition to its ongoing recruitment campaign in the National Capital Region, EXL is aggressively targeting B and C-category cities for candidates.
It has already opened company-owned recruitment centres in Chandigarh and Lucknow and is in the process of setting up the third one in Kolkata.
Though a majority of its workforce is from New Delhi and NCR as all three EXL centres are in Noida, the last 3-4 months have seen the company going for aggressive recruitment outside the NCR.
"This has resulted in non-metros contributing 60 per cent to our recruitment every month. In fact, every employee joining EXL from outside New Delhi gets a one-time relocation amount of Rs 5,000," said Asim Handa, head, talent search, EXL Service. But non-metro hiring does not essentially mean talent saturation in metros.
In fact, human resources heads of call centres say that the talent pool in metros can never actually saturate. Competition is another factor that is making call centres look towards non-metros for talent.
Says Aashu Calapa, vice president, human resources, ICICI OneSource, "Currently there are more than 60 BPO firms in the Bangalore and therefore a growing gap between the demand and supply. The main requirement for a call centre job is a graduate degree in any ordinary discipline such as BA, B.Com, etc, with a good command over the English language and speaking skills. There is an abundance of such resources across India, which includes those in non-metro cities. While the percentage of hiring from these cities, may not be significant, the trend seems to be catching up. It certainly helps to draw talent from various demographies."
ICICI OneSource, after the recent acquisition of FirstRing, is also moving into non-metro hiring. The company has four facilities across Mumbai and Bangalore. Besides recruiting individuals from these cities, it has also recruited personnel from Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli, Goa and Pune.
Its head hunters have visited college campuses in Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Goa, Coimbatore, Mysore and Mangalore. ICICI OneSource currently recruits 200 personnel per month and about 5-7 per cent are from non-metros.
"There are definitely many graduates from cities such as Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli, Kochi, Dharwad, Coimbatore, Ooty etc who are shifting base to Bangalore. Awareness about BPO careers is rapidly growing, enabling more graduates to be employed in this industry. Bangalore, as a location is certainly attractive," adds Calapa.
For leading call centres like 24/7 Customer and MsourcE, non-metro talent currently constitutes nearly 25-35 per cent of the total hiring.
According to Shanmugam Nagarajan, chief operating officer, 24/7 Customer, "We are currently experiencing very steep ramp rates. Therefore, tapping for talent in Bangalore alone would not be a wise staffing strategy. We will be recruiting all across the country. To date, most of the hiring has been in south India. Coimbatore, Madurai, Trichy, Kochi, Mangalore, Pune, Manipal, Mysore, Trivandrum and Goa are the key towns."
Elango R, vice president-HR and Training, MsourcE highlights an interesting factor emerging out of their non-metro hiring experience, "While hiring from non-metros, we have seen that people prefer to join any centre within close vicinity from their residence. An overnight's drive from home is most preferred so that it enables the employee to go home during the weekends. People prefer this to moving base entirely to a new location."
MsourcE is planing to ramp up to nearly 1,000 people in next three months. Though the company would continue to stick to its pan India mode of hiring, Elago clarifies, "It does not mean that the domestic talent is fast reaching saturation. Earlier, nearly 9 out of 10 people were mostly hired; today the hits are in the range of 4 to 5 people. Competition is taking us to non-metros. In the bargain, we have realised that the talent in these areas are indeed noteworthy."
Dr Solomon Suresh, vice president, HTMT, also agrees that the strike rate in domestic, hiring which was once 10-15 per cent, has now reduced to 2-5 per cent. "First, the number of contact centres, especially in Bangalore, has significantly increased. As they continue to expand, they are always on the look out for fresh talent. This provides a choice to individuals who are looking to join a call centre."
HTMT is currently 1,500-strong and intends to have 2,000 people on board by March 2004.
Though non-metros constitute for less 10 per cent of the total hiring, the company has realised that people are ready to re-locate at the entry level and not while moving up the value chain.