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US$ 50 bn industry losing shine?
Thu, 8 Nov Pre-Open

The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry really put India on the world map. Phone calls from across the globe were redirected to India, where employees with fake accents and fake names would provide assistance. These firms saw tremendous growth over the past few years and now even the domestic market is expanding. Yet, there is a lot of underlying dissent within the ranks. India's US$ 50 bn BPO industry has a problem. But they don't have anybody to call to fix it?

BPO companies are struggling to hire the right talent. A few years back, a BPO job was considered prestigious and was a ticket to India's upcoming middle class. But, potential candidates have now opted out of these jobs and have instead opted for more traditional ones in retail, banking and manufacturing spheres. One of the major issues that this industry is facing is that employees do not find these jobs attractive enough. The late hours, lack of job satisfaction and opportunities for employees to grow, learn, and be engaged are making these jobs less desirable. This is despite the perks of working in plush offices, decent pay packages and car drop-offs and pick-ups. The low skill requirements are also leading to poor career growth. Retaining an expensive senior costs more than hiring a new employee on the floor.

According to a study by consulting firm Gallup, only 1 out of 3 BPO employees intend to stay with the organization for more than two years. Plus young aspirants in India usually look at their seniors in order to mentor them on their career path. Indians rely on people from their social network, and usually act on their advice. Not many of these trusted sources would vouch for a job in the BPO industry. Hence, many new job entrants are choosing other fields.

So what can the industry do in order to repair its image for potential employees? Well, firstly it needs to boost employee engagement measures. This will help affect loyalty and advocacy in the industry. Plus leaders need to make sure that employees understand their role in fulfilling the firm's mission and understand their personal growth path. They need to be able to steer their staff in the right direction.

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