The IT-ITeS sector has the best HR practices

Updated: Oct 31 2005, 06:33am hrs
Its absolutely ludicrous to compare BPOs with sweat-shops and Roman slave ships. The report by the VV Giri Institute is outrageous. Its a micro-report. It shouldnt be generalised. BPOs provide the best working conditions in India. The employees are provided home pick-ups and drops, free food. Those who compare BPOs with sweat-shops dont have a clue about the industry.

Each BPO employee has at least three job offers on hand. In such a competitive environment, if a company doesnt pamper its employees, theyll quit. Its wrong to say that the industry doesnt treat its employees well. In fact, the IT-ITeS industry has the best HR practices across industries.

Regarding attrition, its high in call-centres, which comprise only 25% of the ITeS industry. Most employees are young and in their first job. Many consider it a stop-gap job, rather than a career. Employees working in BPOs experience a 50%-200% hike in salaries in two years. Im not aware of any other industry which offers such growth.

Its a wrong perception that people working in BPOs experience no value-add and face difficulty in switching careers. Most BPOs provide facilities for part-time educational courses. We provide extensive training in communication, HR and accounting skills and domain knowledge such as insurance and banking. Which other sector in India provides this kind of training

Regarding the call for trade unions, there is no apparent need for it. Those who work in BPOs are young and want to work hard. They are not labour. They are educated executives who have a voice of their own. All BPOs have a complaint redressal system. Moreover, there is a much flatter hierarchy in BPOs and anyone can talk to the top management directly. The Lefts allegation that we are resorting to union busting activities is false.

I completely disagree with those who say that working conditions in BPOs are bad. After all, its a people business. If we dont take care of our employees, theyll leave. I agree some issues do exist. Data security has been a major concern and we have started being quiet strict with it. There have been some cases of firing employees for breach of data security. But its for the good of the industry and people. An hour of network down-time can cost us millions and can pull a BPO down in a day.

Night-shifts are a part of the BPO job and a majority of attrition results from night-shift processes. But dont airlines, factories, the railways and policemen work at night And this talk of keeping BPOs open on national holidays, Holi or Diwali and refraining employees from participating in festivities is all sham. Do we shut shop Dont airlines, cinemas, hotels and the police work on Diwali nights

Regarding unscheduled offs I would like to ask, Is it bad to ask employees to inform if they are taking one Each absent employee may increase the burden of calls per hour on colleagues. Regarding overtime, most employees voluntarily put in more number of hours and any overtime is duly paid.

The world looks up to Indias IT and its BPO prowess. Its sad that we are looked down upon by our own media and leaders. There are countries waiting to grab business and these kinds of reports may harm India. The sector has generated more than a million jobs.Which other sector in India offers this

We are working so hard for the industry to grow. I agree that there may be some issues. But irresponsible statements and reports will make customers and investors flee to other destinations, like China and the Philippines. I urge politicians, the media, employers and employees to be very careful while making any statements and work with the industry for its benefit, which will in turn boost Indias overall growth.

The writer is CEO, GECIS, Indias largest BPO and chairman Nasscoms BPO committee
(As told to Harsimran Singh)