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Infosys BPO boss speaks on jobs, attrition
Archana Mohan in Ahmedabad | December 21, 2006
Amitabh Chaudhry is CEO & MD, Infosys BPO Ltd, a subsidiary of Infosys Technologies which closed FY 2005-06 with revenues of $85.5 million (Rs 379 crore) and employs over 9,700 people.
Chaudhry speaks to Business Standard's Archana Mohan.
The Indian BPO industry has a very high attrition rate. What is the situation at Infosys and how do you tackle it?
At Infosys BPO we treat attrition as a business problem and not just an HR problem.
This means the issue gets attention at a combined leadership level and this helps us address it from many angles -- this includes salary and compensation reviews, training and motivation programmes, internal job rotations, providing horizontal and vertical growth opportunities, travel to client locations, work-life balance initiatives and so on.
Have we cracked the problem? Not yet! But we are getting a better grip on the nature of the problem and that helps us design more effective solutions.
How do you address issues relating to night shifts and monotony of work with your employees?
We have never propagated the myth that BPO is a 'fun' industry. We manage business processes for some of the world's largest companies and our work areas are in effect, extensions of their offices.
This work is serious for our customers and it is serious for us. I have little patience with people who say such work is monotonous.
Yes, working night shifts is an issue. But just as certain professions like nursing, manufacturing, emergency services, airlines, hotels, medicine, and so on work round the clock, the BPO industry also works round the clock. One simply has to accept this as a way of life.
But just because we do serious work, we do not take ourselves too seriously. Our workforce is young and energetic and we spend a lot of effort in making the workplace interesting and exciting through events, celebrations and other team building activities.
How important are motivation and training programmes for employees in the BPO sector? What has been Infosys' contribution here?
Team building and motivation programmes are hugely important for us because for many of our employees, this is their first corporate job and they have to grapple with the change of culture from college to office.
In addition, they have to get used to working in shifts, coping with world-class delivery expectations, and rapid change caused by growth and opportunities in the industry.
All this can be fairly stressful and it is easy to feel disoriented. That is why we invest significant effort and time in training, coaching and mentoring programmes. These help employees to acclimatise as quickly as possible.
The average age profile of an employee in the BPO sector is not above 30. Do you see any change in this?
I don't see any imminent change in demographic profile. This industry depends on the fact that India has a large number of young people graduating who can be trained to produce world-class work.
What is the extent of job growth in the BPO sector when compared to other sectors like say Telecom, Retail or other IT enabled services?
There are a number of very respected surveys around and all of them forecast continued growth for the industry. Speaking for Infosys BPO, I'm fairly confident that we will continue to grow briskly in several areas.
The BPO industry has traditionally been strong in areas like finance and accounting, customer service, banking and capital markets and so on.
In addition to this, we see traction in a whole host of new areas as clients get comfortable with the idea of outsourcing business processes.