Some HR Dilemmas in Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing Firms

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Case Details:

Case Code : HROB101
Case Length : 11 Pages
Period : 1983-2007
Pub Date : 2007
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Not applicable
Industry : Information Technology/ Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
Countries : India/ Global

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Excerpts 3

Caselet 3: Curbing Employee Indiscipline

"IT and ITeS is an industry where a whole lot of people are employed who are young, just after graduation and put inside stressful work experience. […] there are companies who have sought our opinion on whether to implement alcohol or HIV/AIDS tests."40

- Kiran Karnik, President, National Association of Software and Service Employees (NASSCOM),41 in 2007.

"This would be highly discriminatory. I recommend spreading awareness within the BPO industry to avoid social bottlenecks. Something like an HIV test may make anyone an outcast. You can't reject anyone's potential just because she/he is HIV infected. How can you throw anyone out on the basis of this?"42

- Sam Chopra, President, Business Process Industry Association of India (BPIAI),43 in 2007.

In fiscal 2006-07, more than half a million people worked in IT-enabled services (ITeS) firms and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firms in India, according to India's apex IT industry body, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM).44 The BPO industry, in particular, had a relatively young workforce with the median age of the worker being just 25 years.45 The HR professionals in BPOs had to contend with a very demanding job due to the issue of high employee turnover. The employee turnover rate in Indian BPOs was as high as 40 percent, compared to about 25 percent in more liberal markets.46 According to experts, cut-throat competition in this fast-growing industry was directly contributing to the high employee turnover rate.

In addition to this problem, HR professionals had to deal with challenges such as absenteeism and other human issues peculiar to the BPO industry.

It was widely known that the very nature of the work at BPOs resulted in employee burnout and other stress-related disorders, which contributed to these problems. The problem was compounded in countries such as India, where employees had to work in night shifts as these BPOs catered to overseas clients.

Working continuously in such shifts and handling stressful transactions with clients led to mental and physical exhaustion. In addition to these workplace stressors, some employees themselves added to the stress because of their personal habits and undisciplined lifestyle.47..

40] "'Advise Call Centre Workers on Healthy Living',", July 3, 2007.

41] The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) is a consortium that serves as an interface to the Indian software industry and Indian BPO industry.

42] Vishwas Gautam, Chandna Arora, "HIV Test to Join a BPO?", June 27, 2007.

43] The Business Process Industry Association of India (BPIAI) is an association of BPO professionals established in the year 2000.

44] Deepshikha Monga, Joji Thomas Philip, "BPOs May Now Screen Recruits for HIV,", June 23, 2007.

45] "BPO's Gen Vexed," Business Today, July 15, 2007.

46] "BPO's Gen Vexed," Business Today, July 15, 2007.

47] Sanjeev Sharma, "Human Issues in Call Centers and BPO Industry- A Report,"


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