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Home > India > Business > Business Headline > Report

Health woes: BPO staff pay heavy price

Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore | November 19, 2007 12:44 IST

The apparent sheen of success that India's flourishing business process outsourcing industry enjoys hides many a problem that the sector is beset with.

An employment satisfaction survey -- conducted among 20 BPO firms encompassing 1,760 employees all over the country -- shows that the number of women staffers in the sector has been steadily declining, havingĀ  dropped from 36 per cent in 2005 to 32 per cent in 2007.

There are various reasons for this decline in the number of women employees, like late night shifts and awkward travel times.

Tanya Singhal, an employee with MphasiS, says: "It was fun all these years. The salary and the atmosphere were all exciting. But I guess after a while it takes a toll on you. We change our sleeping and eating patterns and after a certain point in time, it becomes very difficult to cope with the situation."

The survey indicated that most employees had no problem with the work culture or the salary structures. The dampeners were long and unusual working hours, and lack of sufficient general holidays. BPO firms work on Independence Day and Republic Day, too.

Shruti Shastry, who has been working with a reputed BPO firm for the past three years, says: "How long can one be happy with the salary alone? When we see that our friends get endless number of general holidays, we do get upset about it. My health has been taking a beating due to lack of sleep and odd eating habits."

The survey also revealed that 32 per cent of the employees suffered from sleep disorders, 25 per cent had developed digestive problems, and about 20 per cent suffered from eyesight problems.

Overwhelmed with rising employee-related problems, BPO firms are gearing up to tackle the situation. With huge amounts being spent on employee-training, companies are now trying to retain staffers so as to avoid bigger costs that are caused by rising attrition rates.

BPO units, concerned about their staffers' health, are now trying to provide nutritious food to employees. Talks are on to reduce work timings and to introduce more breaks during working hours. Arrangements are also being made to ease travel time: for instance, if on one route five people are being picked up, BPOs now plan to reduce the number to three thereby helping cut down on travel time.