Are BPO workers happy?

Business Process Outsourcing / Call center worker
A call center worker
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is a growing industry in the Philippines that employs over 500,000 Filipinos, mostly young professionals.

These white-collar job workers are considered highly paid, enjoying quick promotions and waves of benefit packages but, are they happy with their jobs?

This is the question that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through its National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP), has sought for an answer through a research study that measured the “happiness at work” in this thriving industry.

The study conducted recently by researchers Dr. Socorro Rodriguez and Dr. Nimfa Ogena is titled "Health and Social Policy Issues of BPO Workers in the Philippines: Is Happiness at Work Attainable?"

The duo looked into the health and social life of BPO workers using online questionnaires and proposed policy recommendations for them to have productive, healthy and happy lives.

Online questions included: How would you describe your current state of health? In your current work, how happy/unhappy are you in this company? Which problem(s) arising from BPO industry need to be addressed at present by the government?

Results of the study was obtained by the Philippines News Agency here through Jaime Ragos of the DOST’s Science and Technology Media Service.

Ragos said that based on the responses, the top three reasons why respondents joined the BPO workforce are high salary (77 percent), gain experience (65 percent) and benefits package (64 percent).

Respondents of the online survey, he said, totaled 698 BPO workers -- 51 percent were from Metro Manila, 21 percent from Cebu, 15 percent from Davao and 13 percent from North Luzon.

Majority of them were employed in call centers and the rest were into non-voice services such as back office, software development, medical transcription and engineering.

The study, according to Ragos, revealed that majority of the BPO respondents were of “average health” (50 percent) and “healthier than average” (25 percent).

BPO workers who are of “average health," according to Rodriguez, are those that are not afflicted with serious diseases, do not have hypertension, diabetes and other diseases and need not be hospitalized for treatment.

But they sometimes suffer from headaches, cough, and other minor ailments due to smoking and lack of sleep.

Meanwhile, BPO workers who are "healthier than average" are those who do not suffer from any ailment.

Since most of the BPO workers are very young, they do not easily get tired, catch cough or suffer from headache and other minor ailments, Rodriguez explained.

Meanwhile, top social problems identified by the study include lack of quality time with family and friends, addiction to alcohol and smoking, and marital problems.

According to the respondents, they would rather sleep or rest during leisure time.

So, are BPO workers happy at work?

The study showed, Ragos said, that happiness at work is positively influenced by the importance given by a BPO worker on job productivity in the workplace and the mean number of hours of uninterrupted sleep.

And what makes BPO workers happy?

Ragos said that since many of the BPO workers are very young and fresh college graduates, their state of happiness rests on financial, medical, and social factors, the study revealed.

However, they are likely to leave their current BPO employer in the next 12 months for higher salary offered by other BPO companies, especially if they experience fatigue and stress due to overtime at their current work.

Their work activities are constantly monitored by strict supervisors.

The online survey was conducted in selected BPO companies and the research instrument was developed in collaboration with the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP).

Seven BPO companies participated in the research: three from the National Capital Region (NCR), two from Luzon, one from Cebu and another one from Davao.

Respondents were selected by human resource managers, Ragos said.

He said the study also conducted a multi-sectoral forum held last September 2013 at the Pearl Hotel in Manila participated in by government, academe, and representatives of BPO companies.

The forum resulted in several policy recommendations and program interventions including: review of current health and safety guidelines for the BPO industry, technical assistance from appropriate government agencies, positioning of Filipinos competitively through training that allows for career development within the BPO industry, and the use of Philippine unit chrono questionnaire tools to identify workers who are really fit to work at night.

Although there have been social, health programs, and policies that the government implemented to protect BPO workers, not all are complied with by BPO companies, the study revealed. (PNA) SCS/FGS/DOC/CBD/PJN

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