Monday, 29 October 2012

Myths about the BPO Industries in India

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is the process of hiring a third party to complete a business process of an organization in order to save time, money and other resources.
In the early days, BPO usually consisted of outsourcing processes such as payroll, customer service but later it gradually grew to include employee benefits management. Now it encompasses a number of functions that are considered "non-core" to the primary business strategy. India has a market of $1.69 Billion and is expected to increase up to $2.57 Billion by the year 2014.  In India many youngsters are pressurized not to take up a BPO job by family and peer groups because of various myths & misconceptions. Some of the myths & misconceptions include:

1. Taking calls in a BPO will put your career to a stalemate
In India most people believe that BPO jobs are only call centre jobs. This is a myth because BPO Industry does not consist of only handling calls in a call centre. Organizations’ nowadays have started outsourcing any part of their business which they feel can be done effectively by a third party which in turn ensures the organization saves money, time, energy and concentrate on other core areas.
Lack of awareness about the BPO industry has generated a lopsided view. Many a times it is believed   that a customer service representative in a call centre is the only BPO job. This myth has to be changed especially in an era where outsourcing has become an integral part of our economy.

 2. BPO jobs are all night shifts
This is one of the most widespread myths. It’s only the customer care representatives who work in night shifts in India because of the differences in time zones between the transaction country & the outsourced country. It cannot be denied that most of the outsourced jobs are customer service, yet there are quite a bit beyond customer service as well.
Jobs in the area of research, finance, HR and marketing are done to a huge extent during the day. Hence it becomes very important for us to read and understand the job profile before choosing or rejecting a job offer.

3. You will lose interest in higher studies if you start a job in the BPO industry
At times you may have to work 10-12 hours but that could happen to anyone in any industry but that does not mean you’re putting your goals in jeopardy. It is always better for people to work for a few years before higher studies because you get a feel of work, work culture, work environments, work ethics and networking which is a very huge factor in corporate business.
Another important fact is that when you work for a few years you get an understanding of your strengths and hence you can specialize in your area of interest and that will help you grow in your career.

4. You will lose social touch
80 % of the BPO jobs give you two days off a week. Besides we live in a competitive world where our time for recreation/ spare time have drastically come down. The way you keep in touch depends on the individual to a large extent.

5. A BPO job does not hold a high status within the community

A BPO Job is considered a mediocre job because of the myths and the fact that people still believe all BPO jobs are all Call Centre Jobs. People prefer working in Day shifts and prefer working in primary jobs related to the own company. Back end jobs have never been appreciated in this country.
These are things that an individual needs to learn and cope with. If you are focused and if you believe in what you are doing your hard work should be able to do the talking.
The problem is that a BPO job is not completely understood hence perceptions will arise but it actually does not affect your morale unless you allow it to effect you.

However, there are 2 things that you should keep in mind while choosing a BPO job.

1. A lot of BPO jobs do not give you an opportunity to learn as much as you expect and personally I feel that people need to choose Jobs that help you learn a lot more for the first 10 years of their career because you will learn to face situations, people, resources etc. So always be careful while choosing a job and make sure you choose one which helps you to learn as much you can.
2. Night shifts for a prolonged period are bad for your physical and mental health especially if you’re taking calls throughout the 9-10 hours of work.

It ultimately boils down to one simple aspect that some of us tend to overlook: Do not reject a job based on its industry but choose a job based on the job profile, personal interests & amount of learning you can get.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Harnessing the potential of the Visually Impaired: A study on employment of Visually Impaired persons in mainstream industry

In the efforts towards rehabilitation of persons with impairments, including visual impairment, employment and employability is definitely of utmost importance. In a country like India, where there is a strong correlation between poverty and incidence of visual impairment, coupled with underdeveloped social security system, the financial burden of maintaining such persons often becomes the biggest hurdle in their rehabilitation. Despite commendable work of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in providing various types of trainings to the visually impaired, including pre-employment training, the absorption of such persons into mainstream business establishments has been dismal.  This study was initiated as an attempt to identify gaps in the employment of visually challenged and offer practical solutions for harnessing their potential.
The primary objectives of this research included:
·         Understanding the challenges faced by  the visually impaired and their support needs
·         Understanding the opportunities available as well as the expectations of the employment market with respect to employing the visually impaired
·         Studying the training initiatives and programmes made available by the government as well as NGO’s working for the visually impaired.
·         Studying the general policies and practices in private organizations related to the employment of the visually impaired.
The primary data was collected from a sample of 45 visually impaired respondents, in the working age group between 20 – 40 years, 8 Non Governmental Organizations, and, Governmental bodies, engaged in the rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired in Mumbai, Calcutta, Delhi, Chennai Bangalore and representatives from various private companies from across industries, including information technology, BPO, healthcare, finance, HR, manufacturing and education..

The key findings of the study have been summarized below.
·         The findings have indicated that one of the biggest barriers to employment of the visually challenged is lack of adequate communication skills, particularly English, with over 38% of the respondents citing this as a major impediment. This is quite understandable, given that according to some reports, over 80% of the visually challenged are from rural and backward areas of the country, and as such are doubly disadvantaged by lack of access to language training. Additionally another 21% of respondents have suggested the need for more job oriented training programs which include a lot of emphasis on communication skills and which are in tune with the requirements of potential employers. While many NGOs have initiated job oriented training like “BPO” or “Call Center” training, there is definitely scope for many more such initiatives that can help translate the practical on the job requirements into easy modules for students.
·         Another major issue highlighted by this study is the attitudinal barrier among potential employers, primarily due to misconceptions and low awareness on the kind of jobs that a visually impaired can work in. 71% of the respondents cited attitudinal barrier to be a major hindrance to employment of persons with visual impairment. It was also observed that visually impaired persons in jobs ordinarily performed by sighted persons are either faced with expectations which are sometimes unrealistic or are completely sidelined from mainstream activities in the regular working environment.  Hence there seems to be a huge need to orient employers, managers and coworkers to enable them to understand, support and utilize the skills and potential of the visually challenged in the most productive way.

Accessible and integrated training program is the need of the hour. No doubt organizations working for the visually impaired are doing commendable work but a lot is yet to be done if the full potential of the visually impaired is to be realized. Keeping in mind that each visually impaired is different and so are the needs, a proper assessment of each individual is crucial so as to have a clear cut idea on the strengths  and challenges of every individual, so as to be able to  designing appropriate training programs, and guide them into the right careers.
The training programs should extensively concentrate on all aspects of communication and also provide psychological support, especially building self esteem, confidence and motivation and overall personality development. Areas like leadership training, people management, responding to conflict are still unexplored, and can be a game changer for many of the visually impaired. The training programs should simultaneously enhance the skills of the visually impaired and job oriented programs that match available opportunities in tune to the changing market needs so as to make them more employable. . This will definitely go a long way in harnessing the potential of the visually impaired.
Private companies should throw open internships opportunities to the visually impaired, which can act as a training ground for them to take on regular jobs in future. Additionally organizations serious about equal opportunity employment should take the additional initiative of orientation of recruiters, manager and also staff to the potential as well as challenges faced by the visually impaired, so as to enable meaningful absorption and utilization of such persons into mainstream employment.
With more constructive cooperation between the NGOs and private organizations, there is ample scope for development and rehabilitation of persons with visual impairment into mainstream employment, thus making a marked difference to their personal lives as well as adding additional resource pool for organizations to tap into.

About PeopleEquity
PeopleEquity is a human resources consulting organization working on developing the potential of the visually impaired since 2007. PeopleEquity has initiated a unique “Sixth Sense Program”, targeted at providing visually-challenged professionals an opportunity to experience and learn from live working environment and thereby develop themselves personally & professionally. Over the last five years over 15 visually challenged persons have benefitted from this program and now work at governmental and private organization, utilizing their potential to a greater extent. PeopleEquity is working towards expanding this program through partnerships with NGOs, private organizations and entrepreneurs who are committed to the cause of rehabilitation of persons with visual impairment.