Salary Scenario Expected to Perk-up in FY11

DQ-IDC BPO E-Sat Survey 2010

Dont organize for any other purpose than mutual benefit to the employer and the employeeMark Hanna

If American industrialist, Mark Hannas quote is anything to go by, then the case of the BPO industry exactly proves it. Gone are the days when BPO was looked at only by freshers/college students. BPO in India has come a long way in not only creating innumerable jobs, but also being looked as a serious future job opportunity for employees in the longer run. However, challenges for HR professionals have been many as people still consider BPO to be a low profile job. Lack of standard pre-job training and general clarity on skillsets have always been key pain points for most of the BPO organizations in India. However, with a set of benchmarks followed by the industry for compensation packagesincreased focus on training, certifications, and brand equitythe BPO industry in India is set to double and increase the capacity of manpower every year. Interestingly, setting up BPOs in rural areas is one such initiative by several companies to leverage this opportunity. It is believed that the key to success in ramping up talent in a BPO industry is the adoption of a rapid training module. The training component has to be seen as an important sub-process, requiring constant re-engineering. After all, the purpose has to benefit both employer and employee.

In 2009, employees started feeling the heat of recession after suffering from salary cuts, pink slips, and their jobs not only becoming less lucrative but uncertain too. However, hopes remain strong in 2010 with certain measures taken by HR professionals by incorporating process efficiencies and now more focus is on hardcore training.

The quality of supervision an employee receives is critical to employee retention. It is a well known fact that people leave managers and supervisors more often than they leave companies or jobs. Though this is applicable to any sector, but this trend is seen more in the BPO sector. Hence for retaining the employee, it is not only the role of an HR professional that has to be looked at, but also a supervisor has a critical role to play. There have been several complaints revolving around lack of clarity about expectations, lack of feedback about performance, and lack of clarity about earning potential. The role of a supervisor as well as a HR personnel becomes crucial at this stage to sort out the differences and work in tandem. HR personnel need to be on their toes round the clock to address the grievances of employees and act quickly.

E-Sat Highlights 2010

Except Hinduja Global which went south by one rank compared to the previous year, all other companies improved their rankings, a sharp contrast to 2009 where nine out of twenty companies lost ground significantly. Some other key highlights this year were the entry of companies like Spanco, Syntel, and FIS to the top 15 list; attrition rate remaining same for the year 2010 at 15%, average salary hike across categories increasing from 8.4% to 9.4%, and recruitment through consultants being 29% while direct walk-in recruitment constituting 39.5%. As for the satisfaction level, vCustomer continued to lead the satisfaction quotient. However, highlight of this years survey was Wipro which shot five ranks up from the previous year while Spanco and Genpact also made it to the Top 5.

Aegis BPO ranking improved in the employee round because of a good performance in parameters such as salary and work culture while 24/7 Customer also showed an excellent performance on parameters such as salary and appraisal. Aditya Birla Minacs position increased by seven positions mainly because of an impressive performance in parameters such as job content, work culture, and people. EXL Services position rose three levels in the overall ranking while its HR ranking increased from 18 to 10, showing good performance in parameters such as job content and work culture. Firstsource Solutions showed an increase of four positions in it overall rank showing good performance in parameters such as work culture, company image, and a transparent appraisal system. Intelenets overall ranking increased to three positions compared to 2009, while in the employee round it has shown an increase of eight positions in ranking because of a good performance in parameters such as training and gender inclusivity. The overall satisfaction index for the top 15 companies this year has slightly risen from 75.5% in 2009 to 75.7%a mere 0.2% increase. However an alarming report in this years survey is that the overall satisfaction score across employee parameters has drastically declined including company image, work culture, job content, training, salary, appraisal, people, and gender inclusivity as compared to the 2009 data.

Money Matters

Average salary this year dipped to almost `2.4 lakh as compared to `2.5 lakh in 2009 as was obvious due to several salary cuts within the BPO companies. While there was a considerable amount of employee growth on a y-o-y basis for companies such as EXL Services, Intelenet Global, vCustomer, and Spanco, the salary structure and revision in most of the organizations were frozen or either delayed postrecession. VCustomer continued to satisfy its employees in terms of salary hikes followed by Aegis and Spanco.

The Growth Factor

Growth certainly exists in BPO more so because the perception among the employees have changed about the industry. Employees have rather become serious while opting for a career in a BPO company. The survey also suggests that employees who have stayed at a BPO for more than two years have seen significant growth prospects and have been promoted at regular intervals. However most companies believe in a performance based promotion and the employees need to adhere to the fact that No pain , No Gain is the only mantra in the BPO industry. Training standards have also drastically changed and are helping employees to leverage on several opportunities for the domains they work for. VCustomer continued to be the frontrunner in salary satisfaction levels followed by Aegis and Spanco while companies such as Patni, Syntel, and Hinduja need to be good paymasters.

BPO industry has managed to do better than IT during the recession and it still has a lot of potential for growth. It can become a more lucrative and an attractive arena for those who are looking for growth and this is more evident with the fact that the average age in the industry has increased and the trend has changed that not only freshers but well experienced and even the aged groups have started joining which bring out a positive signal for industry. Job security and better educational qualifications were other factors some years back as to why employees started switching their jobs to pure IT companies. However that trend also seems to disappear with BPO companies offering some kind of a job security blanket and addressing the concerns of the employees to the top management while providing the right kind of training and education in-house to retain its employees.

Stress and No Rest

Sleeping disorders continued to be the key reason for illness among BPO employees. The fact that BPO is a 24/7 industry itself proves that people who works in shiftseither day shifts or night shifts have been complaining of falling ill regularly. Food habits have also drastically changed in the BPO industry with several employees also complaining of digestive system related disorders because of irregular meal habits. Problems with eye sight and depression were other key findings of the survey. Sleep disorder problem will continue to bug the industry for a long time. However a remedy needs to be found out by the HR departments of the organizations to deal with the situation. Travel time was the topmost stress factor according to the survey followed by work pressure, insufficient holidays, long working hours, and a monotonous work environment. Recently there were several reports that suggested that BPO companies have now taken up the initiative of allowing their employees to work from home. Some BPOs have also sought permission from the Department of Telecommunication. This could be more relevant for the female employees who constitute roughly 50% of the total manpower in the sector and specially for those who are not in voice-related works but more in data operation and data entry. With no time for personal life, the erratic schedules and monotonous work of business process outsourcing also disturbs the family life of the employees adding to their frustrations. This can also lead to loss of family ties.

An Inclusive Sector

BPO has been known to be a highly gender inclusive sector compared to its IT counterparts. VCustomer again led the charts of being the fairest in terms of gender equality followed by Wipro and Intelenet Global. Special initiatives for women were taken up by the companies such as existence of a glass ceiling for women employees, grievance cell for women against any sexual harassment at workplace, special mentoring programs for female employees, and a friendly work environment. The Top 5 companies were above the overall average for gender inclusivity, a positive sign for the industry to encourage more female employees at workplace. However companies such as Patni, EXL Services, and Spanco need to move up ladder in the gender inclusivity parameter.


As per this years survey, the overall satisfaction levels in most of the parameters such as company image, culture, salary, gender inclusivity have gone down. However, now that business is back, hiring will be more but attrition levels are also expected to increase in the BPO industry. Interestingly, last year the overall satisfaction levels in most of the parameters had gone up. The HR department needs to do a lot of catching up.

PC Suraj

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