‘If you were 21, would you want to be a night animal?’



Jeroen Tas, vice chairman and a co-founder of MphasiS was in India recently.
He spoke on varies topics like BPO recruitment, assessment tests, HR policies,
with a special emphasis on the company’s move to recruit take older people to
curb attritition. Excerpts from an interview…

Is it true that MphasiS is looking to hire older employees for its BPO
operations?
This is something that we are looking at very closely right now. We are not
thinking just to hire 22-23 year olds, but also older people – including
part-timers and people in the 30s and 40s. We are clearly trying to co-relate
attrition levels and effectiveness with people from different profiles. We are
also looking at ways to manage people from these varied profiles, because if you
have a 40 year old who has to report to a 22 year old, it throws up a lot of
things. If you ask me if we have sorted these things out? No! But a lot of what
we are doing is in the initial stages. The BPO industry is not a mature one as
it is barely three years old.

We
have not yet optimized the way we use our resources, but are definitely making a
conscious effort towards that, including looking at a gradual change in the
composition of the work force. Right now, the BPO industry has a 22-23 year old
workforce that is restless.

In the recently conducted BPO Employee Satisfaction Survey, MsourcE
employees ranked the company well on most parameters. However, they named long
working hours and timing as main reasons for stress. What are you doing to
address these issues?
Lets face it. If you were 21, would you decide to be a night animal for the
rest of your life? One, its reflective of the age composition of the workforce.
Also, we are looking at whether people can do four weeks of working during the
day and night, alternatively. In that way, they can spend time with family and
friends for a month and then do night work for a month. It’s important for an
employee to be in the same time zone as his wife. It’s a challenge for us to
ensure that employees can balance work and personal life. I am convinced that if
we sit here a year from now, I will be able to talk of a happier workforce. We
are a high growth industry with a lot of issues and we have to acknowledge that
we don’t have some very clear answers. But, we have to be conscious of that
and try new things.

Do you use psychometric profiling during the hiring process?
We have started doing psychometric profiling on our employees. It is a
relatively objective way of starting to look at the characteristics of a person.
But, the numbers are getting so big that we really start looking for
correlations. For example, is somebody with a certain psychological attitude
better at collections? Or is he better at sales? These are psychologically two
sets of people. I am a believer in psychometric tests but don’t think that
they tell you everything about a person. It’s a good place to start with and
is often better than some open ended personal interview. We’ve just started
using Thomas profiling.

Is psychometric profiling a norm internationally?
Yes, especially when you are talking large numbers. It’s a good way to
assess who will fit in the job and we are using it as an integral part of the
recruitment process. Right now, the industry is busy catching up with their ramp
up schedules. In fact, it’s my job at MphasiS to make sure that we ramp up
gracefully.

T V MAHALINGAM in Bangalore

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