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Finding and keeping the best

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By Mark Atterby

Regardless of the location, most BPO providers face significant challenges in finding and keeping quality staff.  Maybe not much of a concern when BPO was purely about labour arbitrage – you can bring people in, pay them peanuts, and who cared if they stayed. But for providers who want to portray themselves as innovative and people focused then they really need to look at their staff retention strategies.

Staff leave because they want more money, hate their working condition, hate their co-workers or management, need a change, are looking for more career opportunities or simply because of some major life event.  Costs associated with staff turnover can be significant.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for companies worldwide to attract and retain key talent. The war for talent is becoming more intense every year. Yet organisations need to make sure they have the right people in place for a successful future.

Attrition rates of 50% are not uncommon in the BPO industry. Particularly in locations like the Philippines where quality staff, with good English, are in high demand. There are numerous opportunities for them to move from one BPO provider to another in pursuit of better pay and conditions.

The first thing to assess to reduce attrition is to analyse its causes. According to research by Dr. D. Ranjitham[1], typical causes for attrition in a BPO or contact centre environment includes:

  • No or limited career prospects
  • Lack of creativity or opportunity to shine
  • Monotony of work
  • Highly stressful
  • Lake of career growth opportunities in the company
  • Irregular working hours
  • Health problems due to imbalance in work timings
  • Pressure from peers & family
  • To pursue higher education

The issues surround employee attrition must be addressed proactively. Employees may be attracted and retained by offering career opportunities, variety of jobs, responsibility and education and gives them a sense of belonging.

Some attrition is good – in fact necessary

Not all attrition is negative. A healthy attrition rate in the BPO industry is necessary for new ideas and innovations[2]. Attrition is not always bad if it happens in a controlled manner. A low performer leaving a company is a good thing.  Some attrition is necessary for growth and development of the organisation, where new employees bring new ideas, approaches, skills and attitudes.

So it’s not just a matter of calculating how high you’re attrition rate and what’s causing it. It’s about understanding who it affects. If you have a low attrition rate but it affects the most productive staff members, than that is most probably worse than a higher rate that mainly impacts low performers.


November 26, 2014
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