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Want a free international trip? Work for a BPO

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November 01, 2004 12:07 IST

It's not very hard to figure out why Business Process Outsourcing is such a happening industry, especially among youngsters. 

It is a sector that is rocking and 'kewl' with a capital K!

Apart from career building opportunities, good compensation and fast-track growth potential, one of the biggest factors that attract and retain youngsters in BPO companies are the innumerable rewards, recognition and benefits schemes, coupled with loads of exciting events and competitions. 

With almost every aspect of one's performance being measured and managed in the BPO environment, there are various innovative and creative ways of recognising and rewarding performance. 

Let's talk about my favorite ones!

#1: Fully paid overseas vacation

At the top of my list is the incentive of an all-expenses-paid overseas vacation as a reward for superior performance.

For example, Infowavz offers the opportunity to one out of every 25 employees each year to spend dream vacations in exotic locations like Phuket, Bali, Cairo and Singapore.

#2: All night partying

This is a very popular concept among most leading international call centre and BPO companies in India. 

Once every six or twelve months, a nightclub or a discotheque is booked for the exclusive benefit of the employees. Apart from the music and dance floor, unlimited food and drink ensure a wild night of partying and fun with friends and colleagues.

#3: Family day

Most international call centres and BPOs have some of the most fabulous work places with plenty of colours, posters, screensavers and cafeterias. They almost represent a college campus. Yet, they are serious places of work.

The family day provides an opportunity for BPO employees to show off their workplace to their parents, siblings, partners and kids. 

It is also an educational experience for family members as they learn about the various facets of life in the BPO industry.

#4. Corporate wellness programmes

We keep hearing and reading about the negative aspects of the call centre environment, including night shifts, talking for long hours on the phone and its associated ailments. 

Recognising the strong need for a healthy and productive workplace, many BPOs have taken various steps like yoga classes, neck and shoulder massages, dietary and nutrition advisory sessions, managing sleeping habits and achieving work-life balance.

#5: Regular outings/Competitions/Events

BPO employees work hard, but love to enjoy life as well. 

At any given point of time, there is something or the other going on, with never a dull moment. 

Picnics, trekking expeditions, amusement park visits, cricket/football/table tennis competitions, movie outings, song/music/dance competitions, Rose Day, Friendship Day, Valentine's Day -- I could go on and on and on.

#6: Customer Service Week/Month celebrations

This is one of the most important and vibrant celebrations, globally speaking as well, in the call centre industry.

It recognises the people who 'make' the industry -- the customers! 

In India, international contact centres leave no stone unturned to ensure celebrations and recognition of customers and customer service professionals who deliver an exceptional experience to every person who call the centre.
#7: Higher education/skill development opportunities

There are various programmes, schemes and tie-ups across the BPO industry to help BPO workers acquire new skills and further develop their existing competencies.

Apart from specific functional skill sets (for example, project management, quality certifications), BPOs are also focused on management and leadership skills development via tie-ups with various MBA and vocational colleges for programmes like 'learn while you earn'.

#8: Career counselling and career pathing

Most good international call centres and BPOs take helping their people identify their areas of strengths and developmental needs very seriously. 

Based on the BPO worker's area of interest -- and their strengths/weaknesses -- BPOs provide appropriate career counselling and chart out suitable career paths for their people.

#9: Club memberships/discounted or free entry

A number of BPOs provide discounted or free memberships/entries to various fun places like bowling allies, nightclubs, swimming clubs, etc.

Many BPO employers have also negotiated bulk deals with various service providers like cellular phone companies, credit card companies, apparel/food chains, etc, to provide discounted services to their employees.

#10: Range of incentives and rewards

Regular performance-based incentives and awards for recognising and rewarding commitment, hard work and achievements are standard features in almost all BPOs and international call centres. 

These take various forms like spot incentives, employee of the month, exceptional quality orientation, team working, leadership awards, so on and so forth.

There are, of course, plenty of other perks and benefits that BPOs provide. 

Some key ones include:

~ Employee home pick-up and drops.

~ 24/7 cafeteria and recreational areas

~ 'Fun space' for breaks -- table tennis, board games, television facilities, Internet cafés, etc.

~ Reading rooms and library facilities.

~ Web-based self-learning centres.

~ Free private medical and accident insurance, often covering families as well.

~ Concierge desks.

~ Full range of statutory and retirement benefits, including provident fund, pension and gratuity.

~ Medical facilities -- on site as well as arrangements with hospitals and doctors for emergency assistance.

~ Regular town hall/open house meetings to provide company updates, recognise top performers and address any employee grievances.

The last word

If you want to join the BPO industry on the basis of these 'fun' things, please rethink!

There is also a lot of hard work, long hours and lifestyle compromises attached to the BPO sector. 

It is a serious industry. As employers, we try our best to bring some excitement and fun into the workplace.

Despite the challenges associated with night shifts and the high attrition associated with the industry, most BPOs and international contact centres know how to look after their people. 

Recognising, rewarding and celebrating success is a part and parcel of the BPO way of life!

Zia Shiekh is the CEO of Infowavz International, a leading international BPO company with offices in Mumbai, London, Toronto and New York

Got a question for Zia Shiekh? Write to him!

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

Zia Shiekh