Life in a BPO-Hiccups and Sneezes

Indefatigably written topic and might be boring to most of you but the thoughts which are being penned down here are purely on the basis of personal experiences. There are no intentions to hurt the sentiments of anyone, so kindly bear with us. When I joined one such BPO, I actually looked at the big picture, challenges of handling a huge workforce, reduction of attrition, new techniques and models of motivation and engagement, dealing with the youth of today, their ideas and creativity and so on.

We won’t talk much about the advantages of such institutions of mass employment opportunities, may be not more than a paragraph devoted to their goodwill, but mostly as the title says it will be a journey of hiccups and sneezes…though medically both of them are good for health. :)

But the hiccups these young generations are facing seems brutal in some way or the other.. lack of sleep, tired eyes, no specific routine as shift keeps changing which means, people can adapt to changes in their sleep patterns, but often shift work means that a person will change their routines too often to adjust properly and a 9 hour shift generally ending in 14 hours. Reporting half an hour before the shift is important for the pre-shift meeting, not to forget the time taken to commute to work everyday.

Spectrum of rudeness – from sexual harassment to fury at unsolicited sales calls, to open racism and insulting remarks from customers, less incentives and unlimited working hours, non AC cabs in summers, wrong food habits, noises, repeating the same script over and over for eight hours or more is so exhausting and monotonous that you will end up feeling like a robot when the day is done, hire and fire policies, no leaves (one was not even allowed to get sick), deadlines and targets

The heartfelt agony and obscurity and health hazards, the smoke filled air, and divorce prone call centers….and what not.

Some who stayed for longer time period are promoted and have a clearly defined career path but for how long? After a few years with no higher education to support, no formal certifications you become obsolete and someone better educated is hired from outside and you are asked to support him/her with your experience in the company.

A similar case study is given here, which sings the saga of an insecure HR Manager who was once the apple of the eye:

Parool, was the HR Manager, her dream from day one was to reach this place; she joined this call center as an associate (caller) and was just an undergraduate. With her degree her career also started shaping up and she became a Team Leader and then got a job rotation promotion to the HR department. The journey was long but the learning curve was going steady and in 6 years she became a wife, HR Manager and was on the way of becoming a mother but the storms of working in night shifts made her journey crimped and she started working as a consultant with the same company (with no idea to anyone as to what she was working on).

In the mean time HR department was taken over by a more educated, trained and experienced professional but nevertheless she was supporting the Head of HR (GM HR).  But lately problems started to slink in when Parool, could not see her beloved department being handled by someone else. The anguish of politics started for this new person and the entire team was divided between the two groups. The Management in the mean time got really impressed with the changes the new person brought and no matter how many smoking sessions were spent with the MD, Parool,did not seem to be winning the war by any means,so she went along with the stride and played her games …from stealing the ideas to narrating her sob story to team members to draw some words of  sympathy.

She left no stone unturned to make the life of the new person nothing less than hell and so the tussle went on till the management got involved and clearly specified Parool’s work areas.

But do you think the agony for the new person was ever going to stop? The insecurities of people, who have never seen any other company and processes, are like frogs in a well who know nothing about the ocean.

Then there are some, who believe that they are Gods of their own functions and no matter who you are they will not let you enjoy your stay.




  • Gladiatorjesu

    Excellent posting. Though i am not working in BPO, but i have seen and heard many cases like these. 

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thank you @0bbd5f3a3604e5e129ddd09ef452a3f1:disqus and yes this is a true story of a Life in a BPO..keep sharing

  • B Beniwals

    Good attempt to define BPO life i have worked in a BPO once have faced the same thing but i quit this industry.

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thanks @0ad53e25b013d253f0d12d3e3e4bd91b:disqus  i have seen many quitting this industry and even some of those who are still addicted..:)  

  • Brilliant portray of skill- knowledge gap through Parool ! Great job done. Reminds me of a resourcing strategy for MBA in a Non- MBA environment. The ‘we -vs-them’ war waged, perpetually !

  • Pramod

    Excellent post, I work in a BPO and can relate to this blog.

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thanks @nabomita:disqus …Skill knowledge gap is just another story…but the kind of treatment BPOs give is still not very acceptable especially in India..Countries like Mexico are far ahead in human treatment..we need to buck up…

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thanks @273c56999310795baa7a0b84fd13804f:disqus  I can relate to all of you who worked in BPOs :)

    The article is an  eye opener but without any alternates

  • SG

    BPO is a treacherous field. Does not pay too well, but has plenty of risk to health and stress. The montonous voice at the other end gives an insight to the mind of the worker.

    I used to frequently interact with BPO workers over calls and pry into their feelings at job. Believe me, they face tremendous amount of racial abuse by customers from US and UK; and all this they have to bear with a smile!

    The female workers face peer pressure to go into casual relationships with their peer male colleagues.

    I would recommend any budding yougster not to venture into this glamorous but hostile industry. Better study hard and make your career elsewhere.

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Hello Mr.@yahoo-Z4VP2V74GKECQFDUFDFUAJ3BE4:disqus  this is just a small contribution to make people aware of bigger problems these young people are facing today…the alternates will soon be shared,after some research on the same…..keep reading the blogs…more to come on this topic….

  • Retu Arora

    Firstly no offence but I did not get how this story is related to BPO..its about the individual..secondly it was only in BPO it is possible to move from one department to another easily..I have been working in a BPO from the past 5 years and have throughly enjoyed my tenure here…yes working in night is tough but observe the people who come out at 1am 2 am 3 am or for that matter at 11.00 am after graveyard shift they would still have a smile on there face howver the people working in the general shift 9am to 6pm would come out cribbing about from manager to work load…

    I personally feel no matter where you work it is your personal attitude which makes the place good or bad:-)

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Hi @acf6e73e8b9c39890a7beb6ce28c1f1f:disqus really appreciate your questions here, this story is related to BPO as it happened there and its a tale of many such Parools..may be yours too. I’m sure you must have enjoyed your tenure with a BPO, there are many who stays for a longer period than 5 years also, But My question to you is How many trainings have you attended to gain some more knowledge and skills which were lacking?? If you got shifted from one department from another without training how did you manage things?? And its not about work loads..people working in day shifts may crib but there health is not so much of an issue, the hazards that an employee working in graveyard shifts face, others generally don’t. 

    Yes, my dear attitude does matter, but it makes your job better not the working place or atmosphere… i could not see many youngsters getting in the habit of smoking…. and why the trend is followed only in BPOs at such large scale?? why not in others??
    Hope you understand my point of view now…and yes No offence..:)

  • Personalitymentor

    You are right but then you belong to the group of lucky  few.

  • Anshukamboj04

    i am fully agree with her

  • Retu Arora

    Thanks Guys ..Ya I am lucky but I have the attitude too…I will like tell you one more story it is of a very close friend  …he initially started his career with BPO…he was happy and full of confidence, he use to smoke and drink both…but then he had good health and use to play judo because he was respected as he did his job sincerely and he was really good at it…but since all his family members are in IT.. his family pressurized him to completed his certification and move to IT…initially he refused to but then he gave up and he joined one of the esteemed IT firm. …he worked really hard… extended his shift without any overpayment (which he never did in BPO even when it was paid)…he was a fresher but no one ever sat with him for a single day to explain him the system(I am not a fresher in BPO, still as I recently join a new office(BPO) I am in training from the past  5 months still they want us to be comfortable with the job…)…he was abused which is a norm in IT even female employees are…now he is in a good position…he has made his place but still that love for BPO is not gone…
         Now comes the shifts he still works in shifts and even when he is not working still work is in mind (which is not the case of BPO employees)..So here comes health when he was in BPO he was in pink of his health…now his hair are gone. he has a fat belly and is not able to play judo anymore.. Sometimes I feel sorry for him because I don’t see him as happy as he use to be in BPO(although he earns much higher)..
    So the moral of the story is do want you enjoy doing…The first question which the HR in BPO would ask you when you join them is “are you ready to work in night shifts”, so nothing is hidden… so you know from the very first day of your job that you have to work in night shifts…It is we who have to make a decision to go for it or not as no one can force us…
    Looking at the smiley I am sure you are not a person how would get offended in a discussion :-) Thanks again

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Hi Again @acf6e73e8b9c39890a7beb6ce28c1f1f:disqus ..Yes,I agree that its all about attitude and enjoying your job at the end of the day..and many BPO employees do think about that, but most of them get stuck in specific roles….and their career path becomes very stagnant because of skill, knowledge gap in comparison to other industries….
    BTW, you avoided my question on training/education/development programs attended by you…or the opportunity of the same ever provided by BPOs you worked for. Objective here is not to ridicule the BPO industry but talk about the limitations,and let’s accept it fairly.

    Doctors do work in shifts, but they don’t listen to abuse by their customers, if they are thinking about their work while not working…they are rewarded like that…Have you heard any BPO employee(leaving apart the owners and MD) getting any special recognition or reward for their contribution to society???

    Yes, HR do ask the questions,but then they fail to stop attrition also??? What about that??? even these people knew that they have to work in shifts etc etc…

    Maximum hiring is done by placement agencies, so what does the recruiter do in BPOs? just put a stamp on the one hired by their agencies???I was really surprised by this kind of work done by the so called HRs in BPOs (most of them have been promoted within the company and their work experience is just in handling calls, customers over phone and that’s all) That is the reason most BPOs are now have started hiring from outside resources..:)

    And yes, My dear..I won’t get offended..with the discussion…would love to take this debate on till eternity..or till the time BPOs change their ways of working. :)

    All the best!!

  • Vishwaspandav1

    Excellent writeup. I happen to try running BPO for few days and realised how tough it is to do the job over and over again for months if not years.
    But what is the solution to this problem?

  • Hey Retu i can relate with your story. I’m really glad to see to your post. I’m looking forward for more postings from you.

  • Bhupendra Beniwal

    Heyyy Archana, just wanted to share a good news that today m at a really good position in a reputed company. and those who used to work with me in BPO have stucked in their most of them are either called agents or executives. thankss