The much touted and discussed about stress and health problems faced by the BPO employees has caused quite an exodus from the once glittering out processing industry. Just the high salaries alone are not sufficient to retain the workers over whom the company has spent thousands of rupees in training and acclimatising to the new job requirements. So much so that now one finds that the BPOs are actually quite happy with older workers who are steadier and more reliable. Hence we find that suddenly this industry which was once totally youth oriented has begun to employ women who have taken a sabbatical or those who are housewives interested in starting work.
What can the employers do to make the work atmosphere more acceptable? Especially because the problems faced are quite serious being mostly health related ones. Realising that the youth need entertainment and relaxation is one of the major things to keep in mind. And it would do the youngsters a lot of good to know what they can expect from the best companies.
The government too has woken up to the fact that BPOs need some kind of law enacted to protect the young employees in this as yet nascent industry. A health policy is being charted out for the tech sector by the Health ministry which has realised that the sedentary lifestyle, the tensions that cause employees to smoke, the parties that take a toll and the bad eating habits that can cause heart attacks in the young need to be looked into.
Most BPOs are now addressing these problems and finding solutions to them. Companies now appoint a person who can be called an `entertainment` or `fun officer` who is there exclusively to attend to the diversion of the employees. Attention is paid to the air quality inside the offices. Food in canteens is being checked and a dietician is in charge if the daily menus which are being devised with nutrition in mind. Regular breaks are scheduled for the employees to take a walk or to just relax. Motivational speakers are often invited to give the employes a moral boost. Larger firms are better equipped financially to ensure that nothing is lacking in the physical comfort of the employees while smaller niche companies are striving to get there to stem the attrition.
Awareness about the health issues peculiar to this industry has now come to the fore with a publc clamour to regularise the rules governing BPOs. This was after a recent survey showed that at least 1/3 of the employees had sleep problems while a quarter of them had gastro and digestive problems due to the irregular timings and fast food. At least 1/5 suffered from eye related problems and what shook everyone was that the victims were all in their early twenties. All these ailments will eventually lead to more severe diseases like heart, stomach, weight problems and psychological problems leading to severe depression.
It is the duty of the management of these BPOs to ensure that their employees are healthy and happy and to see that their odd timings due to the time zones does not affect the intake of nutritious food which will help boost their metabolism and give them stamina to perform in their demanding job. A health food canteen with a nutritionist and dietician who can plan the daily healthy menus will go a long way in solving this problem. An attending psychologist should also be employed to deal with emotional problems that abound in BPOs.