Right from the advent of the BPO opportunity, the broader IT-BPO industry has debated the similarities and differences between the 2 segments: IT services and BPO. While the end-to-end offering of IT and BPO still remains a clear value proposition, the industry has struggled to manage the expectations from employees in these 2 segments that are as distinct from each other as Ulysses and Five Point Someone. The findings of the DQ-CMR BPO E-SAT Survey 2011 has once again clearly proved this fact. The BPO employees, often thought to be less intellectual and more practical, have a set of expectations that is clearly distinct from the expectations that the IT employees have.
While growth, flexibility of work hours, and good work environment matters to both the setsIT employees give highest importance to job security/stability while the company brand image is also one of the top priorities while selecting a company to work.
The BPO employees, on the other hand, use parameters like availability of transport facilities, salary difference, and availability of actual benefits to select the company that they would like to work for. In short, they are more practical. The company brand image, focused leadership, management, and appraisal system do not even feature among the priorities.
Research Design: The survey was designed and carried out in 2 phases. In the first phase, an HR questionnaire was sent to about 100 BPO companies to get the company-specific data that was to be used in analysis and for devising the sample break up for each company. In total, 20 companies confirmed their participation in the survey out of which only 15 companies participated in the second round. Hence, a large-scale survey was then conducted in the second phase among 1,344 employees in 15 companies across the country. The seven major regions covered were: Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, NCR, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru. In each city, a sample quota was assigned based on the companys employee strength in that city. This quota system was followed strictly to get a proper representation of the different types of employees in the sample. The employee survey included only call-floor executives and operational managers at all levels but excluded back-end support staff from departments like HR and administration. These interviews were based on a structured questionnaire that comprised a number of statements classified under different broad parameters such as company image, culture, job content or growth, training, salary and compensation, appraisal system, people, and gender inclusivity. The employees were asked to rate each of the statements on a 10-point scale. Other than the above parameters, they were also asked about their salary structure, preferred company in the industry, overall satisfaction, reasons for joining or reasons for leaving a company, and work related stress and ailments if any. In order to retain objectivity, every attempt was made to take an unbiased sample. Every effort was also made to ensure that the management of the company neither influenced the employee responses nor got an opportunity to select respondents for the interviews.
The E-Sat Score 2011
The employee satisfaction score was calculated based on 11 parameters, and was weighted and indexed on a score of 100. Following parameters were taken for calculating the E-Sat scores:
Percentage of last salary hike
Average Tenure of senior professionals
Average Training Days br />Cost to Company
Overall Satisfaction Score
Job Content or Growth
Salary and Compensation
Preferred Company: Percentage of respondents of a company who named their own company as the preferred one
Dream Company: Percentage of respondents in the total sample who preferred a particular company excluding their own company
A correlation analysis was run between overall satisfaction and the statements across all these broad parameters. It gave us the dependency of the dependent variable (overall satisfaction) on each of these statements, which in turn provided the weights of each of the statements. The weighted average of the individual scores of statements gave us the score, at the level of each of these broad parameters, and this score was used for the final ranking.
This more practical approach also means that in the survey, the responses of BPO employees are more objective than dominated by a halo. That means, at an aggregate level, there is not too much of a strong opinion that BPO employees hold about their employers. The needs are immediate and the satisfaction (or the lack of it) is immediate and more objective. In a way, it makes the job of HR managers easy as they know exactly what to do and what to achieve. The flip side is heavy marketing and image building exercise once (typically through carefully planned top management action) cannot ensure employee loyalty. You must prove yourself constantly, continuously, and consistently. Remember 50 First Dates?
What it also means is that unlike IT companies, there are no overall better companies in BPO. While in our IT employee satisfaction survey the top 3 companies shared all the top positions in broad parameters, whereas in BPO there are 5 different toppers in the 8 broad parameters. vCustomer, the top company stands at #1 only in 3 parametersjob content, salary and compensation, and appraisal system.
In short, they are more equal to each other, in the eyes of their employees.
Another major pointer to the above conclusion is the huge disconnect between the HR scores and employee scores. For instance, the top 2 companiesvCustomers and Aditya Birla Minacsranked #1 and #2 in employee scores, but ranked #13 and #14 in HR score, respectively. The same was seen in case of many other high-ranking companies too. While one might think HR to be overly critical, it could also mean that the young BPO crowd is not too concerned about the long-term company image related issues, which the HR considers as crucial. Its true that BPO is no longer looked at only by freshers/college students, but the average age of BPO employees is 25-30 yearsstill very young. Therefore, while HR policies of different companies could be framed very strategically to improve company image, training processes, leadership and management, what really matters to the young BPO crowd are the basic needs such as salary, incentives, transportation, work timings, etc. Surely the HRs strategy cannot be overlooked at all, but even the number #1 company vCustomer agreed to the fact that they need to reconsider the basic expectations of its employees and take necessary step to keep them satisfied.
E-Sat Highlights 2011
While vCustomer sustained its performance for the fifth time in a row and Intelenet Global Services retained its sixth position, 4 companiesAegis BPO, Aditya Birla Minacs, FIS Global, and Hinduja Global Solutionsmoved up the ladder. Six other companiesWipro BPO, Genpact, Spanco BPO, EXL Services, Knoah Solution, and Syntelwent southward, few by more than 1 rank. Last year, some of the key highlights were the entry of companies like eClerx and Anthelio to the top 15 list. eClerx and Anthelio were among the 3 new entrants, the third one being TCS.
As for Aegis BPO, it must have surely learnt the success mantra. In FY10, it improved its ranking by 3 places, moving up from #7 (FY09) to #4. And in FY11, it went further northward by 2 ranks, placing itself at the proud second position. It ranked #1 in gender inclusivity and faired very well in other parameters such as salary, appraisal system, work culture, job content, and training. Aditya Birla Minacs too deserved lots of praise. In FY10, its position increased by 7 places; and continuing the pattern, in FY11 too its position increased by 3 places, mainly because of the impressive performance in parameters such as training, people management, work culture, and salary. The new entrant Anthelio, which is otherwise at fifteenth position, showed excellent performance on parameters such as salary and gender inclusivity. EXL Services too, which is otherwise at #10, also did very well in gender inclusivity parameter. Meanwhile, WNS Global Services and Capgemini Business Services ranked #7 and #10, respectively, in HR scores; but refused to participate in the employee round of the survey. Overall, the average attrition rate in FY11 was 24% and the retention rate was 81%.
Money and GrowthStill An Issues
Salary remained the major factor for employees leaving an organization. In comparison to the previous year, in FY11 the average salary has risen by 0.3%. Although its a small increase, yet is vital in a scenario where there are still several salary cuts within BPO companies. The top 3 paymasters were vCustomer, Aditya Birla Minacs, and Aegis BPO; while companies like Genpact, TCS, Hinduja Global Solutions, and Knoah Solutions failed to satisfy its employees in terms of salary hikes.
Furthermore, during the survey many employees (34%) mentioned poor growth opportunities and lack of promotions as their reason of leaving an organization. However not all felt the same. Internal job promotions (IJPs) have given many opportunities to many employees. Like vCustomers commented that perhaps its young employees, whose average age is between 25 years and 28 years, are unable to adhere to the fact that promotions in BPO industry is purely performance based. Although they can take advantage of IJPs, yet theres not much a company can do but only, for example, promote an agent to team leader and a team leader to a team manager. Nevertheless, HRs in BPOs are increasing its Leadership Development Programs to give their employees ample opportunities of horizontal as well as vertical growth within the organization.
The perspective today has changed in a sense that one source giving out a solution is preferred over multiple sources of solution in the BPO industry. That gives more of a reason for the pure play BPOs to find out where the heart of its employees lie and work on those basics to keep them satisfied.