Dilemmas of an HR Manager in the ITES Industry by tfo34034

VIEWS: 89 PAGES: 3

									       Dilemmas of an HR Manager in the ITES Industry

                                    By Punita Jasrotia

      The IT enabled services (ITES) industry is being looked upon as the next big
employment generator (Nasscom predicts 1.1 million job requirement by the year
2008). It is however no easy task for an HR manager in this sector to bridge the ever
increasing demand and supply gap of professionals. Unlike his software industry
counterpart, the ITES HR manager is not only required to fulfil this responsibility, but
also find the right kind of people who can keep pace with the unique work patterns in
this industry. Adding to this is the issue of maintaining consistency in performance
and keeping the motivation levels high, despite the monotonous work. The toughest
concern for an HR manager is however the high attrition rate.
      In India, the average attrition rate in the ITES sector is approximately 30-35
percent. It is true that this is far less than the prevalent attrition rate in the US market
(around 70 percent), but the challenge continues to be greater considering the recent
growth of the industry (read the less time span) in the country. The US ITES sector is
estimated to be somewhere around three decades old. According to Vaibhav, assistant
manager-HR, IT&T, keeping low attrition levels is a major challenge as the demand
outstrips the supply of good agents by a big margin. Further, the salary growth plan
for each employee is not well defined. All this only encourages poaching by other
companies who can offer a higher salary.
      The much hyped “work for fun” tag normally associated with the industry has in
fact backfired, as many individuals (mostly fresh graduates), take it as a pas-time job.
Once they join the sector and understand its requirements, they are taken aback by the
long working hours and later monotony of the job starts setting in. This is the reason
for the high attrition rate as many individuals are not able to take the pressures of
work. According to Umesh Vyas, vice president and senior consultant, head-ITES,
QAI India, the reason behind this is the “glamour and fun component”, which is high
in communication to prospective employees. The toughness of the job and timings is
not adequately conveyed. Besides the induction and project training, not much
investment has been done to evolve a “continuous training programme” for the agents.
Motivational training is still to evolve in this industry. But, in all this, it is the HR
manager who is expected to straighten things out and help individuals adjust to the
real world. “I believe that the new entrant needs to be made aware of the realistic
situation from day-one itself, with the training session conducted in the nights, so that
they get accustomed to things right at the beginning,” says Vyas.
      The high percentage of females in the workforce (constituting 30-35 percent of
the total), adds to the high attrition rate. Aniruddha Limaye, vice president-HR &
training, Daksh eServices, believes that most women leave their job either after
marriage or because of social pressures caused by irregular working hours in the
industry. All this translates into huge losses for the company, which invests a lot of
money in training them. “If a person leaves after the training it costs the company
about Rs 60,000. For a 300-seater call centre facing the normal 30 percent attrition,
this translates into Rs 60 lakh per annum,” points out Vyas. Many experts believe that
all these challenges can turn out to be a real dampener in the growth of this industry.
Agrees Ravi Dutta, the head, HR, eFunds. According to him, the recurring recruitment
costs because of attrition are detrimental. The same also leads to recurring training
costs. Inconsistent performance directly affects revenues. Dwindling motivation levels
leads to loss of interest in the job and higher number of errors.
      This only raises the responsibility of “finding the right candidate” and building a
“conducive work environment”, which will be beneficial for the organisation. The
need is for those individuals who can make a career out of this. According to Vaibhav,
the most crucial challenge faced by an HR manager in the ITES sector is to get a large
number of individuals who have excellent written and verbal communication skills, at
affordable cost. “Even though this sector gives an individual scope for improvement
during vigorous training periods, there are particular aspects of speech and
conversation which are not trainable,” he says. He adds that there is a dearth of
reputed and established training institutes for call centres, therefore organisations
have to handle such manpower challenges internally. The company has set an
elaborate training infrastructure with specially trained and qualified in-house trainers.
“We have multiple computer based training rooms with telecom facilities to take care
of training needs of new and existing agents. Voice and accent neutralisation besides
cultural training form an integral part of the regime,” he says.
      Talking about the pressures, Dutta says, “The average age of the organisation is
less as compared to some other industries. Therefore, one has to make sure that the
working environment is lively. People who wish to make careers in the ITES sector
expect very fast growth and can get restless very easily if this does not happen. Given
this situation one has to constantly keep them interested in their jobs; they need
constant guidance and counselling to be focused.” Anubha Parekh, vice president,
TransWorks Information Services, adds that the HR needs to be vigilant about small
things like food, transport facilities, work environment, facility layout, amenities and
convenience support to the employees. “Costs to take care of these things should take
precedence over other expenses for HR. The HR strategy must have at its centre of
focus people needs and requirements. It must also build in the flexibility net to adjust
to a sudden demand from employees or for employees,” he says.
      All this has induced the companies to take necessary steps, both internally and
externally. Internally most HR managers are busy putting in efforts on the
development of their employees, building innovative retention and motivational
schemes (which was more money oriented so far) and making the environment livelier.
Outside, the focus is on creating awareness through seminars and going to campuses
for recruitment.
      Though the industry has taken a lot of initiative in conducting training for new
entrants and agents, it is development of the skills of middle management (comprising
of the team leaders and supervisors), which needs to be taken care of. Due to the
vertical movement in the industry, most individuals get promoted a rank or two above
their current position. However, since they do not have any management background,
things start becoming difficult for them (considering most who join the industry are
just graduates). All this not only affects the scale, service and quality of the company,
but also on the personality of the individual who feels at loss. According to most
industry experts, with technologies, techniques, processes and methodologies being
redefined and reinvented by the day, the contact centre manager needs to constantly
handle changes in management philosophy and operational practice to successfully
and consistently deliver customer goals.
      The ITES companies are consequently now busy designing development
initiatives for their employees. Limaye says, “We try helping people identify their
strengths and weaknesses, pick up their problem-solving skills and their leadership
abilities. This being a people-driven business, the emphasis is more on improving
their personalities and processes and help each individual emerge as a winner.” He
points out that HR managers need to keep in mind that one shoe does not fit all and
each individual has different capabilities. So, in spite of the vertical movement in this
industry, HR managers should try developing horizontal career options, which will
only help in enhancing an individual’s personality and strengths. These options
are—growth content specialists, trainers, quality experts or even help in operational
and business development of the organisation.
      In spite of so many initiatives, industry experts feel that the major concern is that
nobody has really taken it as a “career choice” but a “pass-time” or “time-gap
employment”. If a mature industry has to evolve, the picture needs to be changed
wherein it becomes “the” choice industry like its software counterpart.
                                         Source: http://www.expressitpeople.com/ 06/24/2002

								
To top