BPO Policies: 5 Tips To Tackle Attrition

Most Indian BPO voice operators facing a very high level of attrition (more than 30%) are those who have relatively smaller operations (less than 1000-seaters) and handle processes requiring low knowledge levels. This article focuses on how these operators can tackle high levels of attrition.

The typical Indian BPO voice operator can be characterised by the following:

* Operating at low end of market and only skill required by agents is English speaking ability
* Most agents have little discrimination and have to stick to prepared script
* The typical agent is in the age group 18-26 and certainly below 30
* The typical agent is a graduate, about 20% are high school pass and there is no one with post graduation or higher level education
* Two thirds of the churn can be attributed to people moving from one call center to another implying that they are staying within the industry and not quitting it to join some other industry – that means stressful nature of the job alone is not a good explanatory factor and merely taking steps only to reduce stress will not help stem attrition.

Indian BPO companies which have been somewhat successful in tackling attrition have identified five major reasons behind the problem. These reasons and the typical response to tackle them are outlined below by way of providing what may prove to be helpful tips.

* Reason 1: Demand is more than supply: there is no dearth of graduates and plus two pass but the supply of people with English speaking ability in this category is not adequate.

* Strategy: Constantly identify talent, recruit and train either in-house if scale of operations permit that or through an outsourced training agency in case of smaller operations.

* Reason 2: People are joining with a short-term view and as a stepping stone to something else.

* Strategy: Create a culture and work environment that encourages people to think of a call center job as a long-term career option. Use counselling by HR and line management. This has to be backed up by demonstrated and perceived efforts by the management to move up the value chain so that employees can clearly see that the management is making efforts to create opportunities for upward mobility among employees.

* Reason 3: A lot of young people are taking up call center jobs just to earn some money on the side – not as a serious and long-term career option.

* Strategy: Create a culture and work environment that encourages people to think of a call center job as a long-term career option. Use counselling by HR and line management. Again this has to be backed up management efforts to move up the knowledge continuum in terms of the processes handled.

* Reason 4: Long-term or intangible or contingency benefits such as PF or medical coverage do not have much attraction for call center employees – they want everything in cash – here and now.
* Strategy: Redesign the compensation package for call center employees and try to pay as much as possible in hard cash. Work out if necessary a new pay structure highly skewed towards cash benefits. Typically the new pay structurer is along following lines: Basic (54%), HRA (26%), Medical Reimbursement (8%), Management Supplement (12%), PF Contribution (actuals), Tiffin Allowance (Rs 25-30 per day of attendance), Attendance Bonus (Rs 500-1000 per month), Loyalty Bonus (1 month’s salary after completion of each year in the company), Performance Incentives (linked to specific performance criteria), Referral Allowance (Rs 2000-3000 per candidate referred and recruited).

* Reason 5: Call center employees have an average age profile of 20-24 years, so they are highly emotional, impulsive and immature when taking career decisions.

* Strategy: Constant counselling.

Most managements somewhat successful in tackling attrition believe that although stressful nature of the job is not a reason for high attrition per se since much of the churn is within the industry, methods to relieve stress or to manage stress is important from the point of view of retention and productivity. Consequently, most such companies organise “fun” events such as picnics, dance parties, get-togethers, cultural evenings, quizzes and games and outdoor sports and games. Some even appoint professional agencies to organize regular stints of aerobic exercises and dancing sessions for employees as part of stress management.
Do not expect these tips to bring about a dramatic reduction in attrition rates – they can only help you to better manage attrition. Call centers which do not have to tackle attrition probably do not exist – not in India, not anywhere else in the world! So, just learn to live with it!

  • brigade

    There is one factor which affects and didn’t get a mention in the article.

    People aren’t treated as humans, there are situations when basic human need to attend natures call requires team lead permission. Which isn’t given when volume is high.

    There are more…..

  • Career Perfections

    I agree on the above article….

  • Dwija Oza

    nice article….. showing the reality in the most effective way with the sollution…….will be really helpful to all those HR managers who suffers from sleepless nights due to the virus called “attrition” disturbing the ususal HR systems………

  • Sujatha Suresh

    I must complement the writer of this article.

    Very well thought, planned and written!

    I really enjoyed the way the reasons were listed and strategies followed the same…

    Great Work! would really want to read more written like this.

    Having said this , I also agree with brigarde that certain truths are not mentioned.I have heard of a BPO that sees to it and notches up the pressure on an individual so that he/she leaves the job before 11 months! To avoid permanent employee status….This breaks down Individuals and maily their self – confidence.Sad but True.

  • rashmi

    hi all,i would apperticate if any one can forward me a ppt on how to control attrition and all other ppt relating HR Recuritement

  • yogesh

    good but some of the points would have been described by different situations totally depending upon the process.

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  • Dear All,

    Its very good article on Attrition, My suggestion & Recommendations which I practices and follow and also believe as a human being is,

    1. HR focus on the Employees
    2. Constant counseling with employees every 15 day or its good to have interaction with them regularly.
    3. Keep them happy and take them out for a break or a T – break, speak to them personally what are their problems and understand it and try to solve and give them a good solution out of it.
    4. Move around people regularly and no EGO with any one it’s very important as a HR in any company or a BPO.
    5. Employees branding and as a HR be close to them let be any issues or any sort of a problem handle it in the way to handle and keep them happy.
    6. Have good Human relationships with every employee.
    7. Avoid constant mentoring people as especially the team leads and line manager have to have some kind of rapport with employees as well.

    I strongly understand the Business difficulties with BPO industry and with other company as well, but we need to see how we can handle employees and keep them happy in all the circumstances.

    Regards, Rajiv

  • Thomas

    Statistically High Attrition rates can be related to many factors

    • Demand vs supply of talent/resources
    • No of new Jobs in the market
    • No. of new jobs in the industry
    • Exploitation
    • Costs of living
    • Training Methodologies poor or non existent
    • HR’s Induction and retention Strategies
    • Company Work Culture
    • Ambiguous or not transparent compensation system
    • Compensation standard compared to the market rates or Perceived equity of reward systems is low.
    • Poor Quality of management and leaders – no personal touch and their motivation skills to retain staff are weak. Management could be ignoring the need of managing relations with middle and lower level employees.
    • Monotonous processes within the organization and no career path defined.
    • Poor team building and networking efforts within the organization.
    • Employees not empowered and do not feel part of the company brand.
    • Not developing and updating internal technologies and Ignoring latest trends and developments followed by competitors within the industry.

    Some important statistics that can be found from Attrition rate are:
    • Calculating amount of fresher’s (Less than 6 months) who leave (It will show who is using the company as a springboard for better jobs)
    • New comers (less than a year) It will show the company’s culture is difficult for them to adjust to.
    • Oldies (more than 5 years) How many key experienced people are leaving…
    • Really oldies (more than 10 years) This could most probably be because of new and better jobs more research needed here.
    • Low performers (people who were fired or asked to leave) These people were either hired wrong or were totally de motivated to work. (Mostly will reflect poor HR policies)


  • soumya



  • Jakhar Ashish6

    really a nice artical to understand and to plan for attrition control.