A Study of Job Stress in Call Centre Employees
Info: 15134 words (61 pages) Dissertation
Published: 6th Oct 2021
Tagged: EmploymentMental Health
“A STUDY OF JOB STRESS AMONG EMPLOYEES OF ACCENTURE CALL CENTRE IN BANGALORE”
In all walks of life, people suffer from some degree of stress due to factors known and unknown. The causes may be the increasing complexity of modern living, insecurity in work environment, growing confusion regarding the future, etc. Stress may be lead to psychological, social and physiological disorders. Individuals need to learn ways and means of effectively copying with stress.
The work place has become ever more demanding of our time and effort. With the increased efficiency and productivity brought to us by the computer and communication innovations of recent years, you would think that life would be easier. But we have been carried into an increasingly frantic work-day by the need to master ever more complicated technology; to be quicker, faster and more innovative; and to advance and make more money. There is less time for lunch, for leisure, for family. Even when we are away from the job, we can be reached or hooked into a weekend project by computer and the internet.
With work demands more and more intrusive in our lives, we may experience subtle but progressive symptoms of physical and psychological stress.
In today’s world, stress has become a common phenomenon and it is so widespread that people and organizations should be concerned about how to manage it more effectively. Pressures to perform in a climate of rapid economic and technological change, especially in developing countries like India, cause stress. It is a fact that stress affects individual and organizational productivity and strategies to cope with stress requires greater attention.
“Everybody talks about what stress is, but nobody knows what it is”
What is Stress?
Stress refers to physiological, psychological & behavioral reactions to events appraised as threatening or exceeding one’s level of coping responses and options.
DYNAMICS OF WORK STRESS
An important part of one’s life is that there are various causes that lead to a great deal of stress in one’s job or work. Work related stress is of growing concern because it has significant impact on the productivity of the employees, resulting in economic implications for the organization.
Work stress may be due to both ‘on the job factors’ and extra-organizational factors’.
On the job factors are as follows:
1. Poor working conditions, workload & monotony.
2. Role conflict and role ambiguity.
3. Lack of promotional opportunities, policies and job insecurity.
4. Poor relationships at work.
5. Poor organizational culture.
Over and above these, there are extra-organizational stressors that interact with ‘on-the-job factors’. These are family problems, personal problems and social problems.
Stress can cause a disturbance in sleep, loss of appetite or libido. You might stay up all night worrying about the project that’s due in two weeks. Food no longer tastes good, or it tastes too good and you’re eating all the time and starting to gain weight.
The total amount of stress emanating from theses sectors will depend on the tolerance limit of the person.
1. Euphoria on getting a new job: The person’s appointment to a new job is accompanied by an euphoric feeling of excitement, enthusiasm, challenge and pride. Dysfunctional processes at this stage would include the depletion of energy reserves in coping and adapting to the new environment.
2. The full throttle stage: Gradually vague feelings of loss, fatigue and confusion may arise because of the rapid depletion of resources. Other symptoms include dissatisfaction; sleep disturbances and escapist tendencies such as overeating, drinking coffee/tea/alcohol, or even smoking.
3. The chronic symptoms stage: Fuel shortage could gradually lead to the development of chronic and more pronounced physiological symptoms. Chronic exhaustion, physical illness, anger and depression may overpower the person.
4. The crisis stage: As the symptoms persist the person enters the crisis stage. He develops as escapist attitude and feels oppressed. Chronic backaches, headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia and even peptic ulcers and asthma develop.
5. Hitting the wall stage: No person can continue under strain for too long as one’s energy resources are not infinite. Under the pressure of constant stress couples with the physical and mental effects, one may reach the end of one’s professional career. In other words, burn Out Stress Syndrome (ROSS) may occur. At the other extreme, i.e., under conditions of extreme stress, Rust out Stress Syndrome (ROSS) may be seen. This is most likely to occur when the gap between one’s capabilities and environmental demands becomes too wide.
Reactions or effects of excessive work stress take an exacerbated form in some occupations. In service oriented jobs, or for instance, in which one is forced to constantly engage in interpersonal dealings (which are referred to as people oriented jobs) a stage is reached when one starts feeling that enough is enough, the job has become impossible. This stage is called burnout and can be likened to the burnout of an electric bulb, which has had to glow constantly over an extended period of time. In much the same way, when an individual is forced to “put on a smile”, in other words to “glow” constantly, the eventuality can be burnout. People working in customer-oriented services such as call centers, are more prone to such burnout effects. The chief cause of burnout is unrelieved work stress which results in emotional and / or physical exhaustion, lowered job productivity and increased dissatisfaction and pessimism at work.The utility industry has undergone a massive transformation over the past decade. Local markets have been deregulated, while at the same time local and regional firms are rapidly disappearing as ownership becomes more centralized.
To date there has been far less attention given to the impact theses changes have had on workers in the utility industry. Far less is known about the workers who remain, their jobs, their working conditions, their joys, and their struggles. Given the tumultuous changes in the utility industry, theirs are not the same jobs that existed five or ten years ago.
This paper focuses on one group of workers in the utility industry – call center representatives. These are the women and men who assist residents and businesses in establishing or changing their utility service and troubleshooting problems that customers might have with their service, their billing, and a host of other issues. While perhaps less visible than the men and women who work on poles or read meters, call center representatives are an important part of the workforce in the utility industry.
While there has been considerable research on customer service representatives in the telecommunications industry,  there has been virtually no research on call center representatives in the utility industry. Thus there is a need to know what causes stress to call center representatives and if their company helps them to overcome it.
Turnover rates in call centers around the world are extremely high. Some facilities exceed 200 percent.
Although there are a variety of reasons for employee turnover, call center managers must look to a major psychological factor called burnout.
The conditions of the call center and the job of the TSR/CSR cause stress in call center reps. It is a fast-paced, high-stress job that can become very repetitive. Continuous repetition without change or the chance leads to boredom or anxiety. Without a release for these negative feelings, reps experience stress.
CALL CENTER INDUSTRY
Call Centers are defined as Operational Centers set up to utilize telecommunication and computer technologies to automate various high-volume inbound and outbound telephone activities and services. Inbound call centers are typically characterized as cost centers. Outbound call centers are generally characterized as profit centers. These days all call centers are becoming both inbound and outbound by taking advantage of blending technology and hence their characterization into one of the categories is becoming increasingly difficult.
Most call centers successfully operational currently are fairly large and have some experience in the form of promoters having worked abroad or previous experience with such ventures or as subsidiaries of foreign companies.
Call centers are typically mixed mode centers used for customer support and service. Two primary reasons why captive call centers are implemented are cost reduction and enhanced customer service.
There are two kinds of technologies available for call centers – Traditional EPABX based and Server based technology.
Traditional EPABX based call center: Historically, call centers evolved from being a place with just telephone lines landing on agent’s desks. Then a PBX was added to distribute calls coming on common lines. Over time, Predictive Dialers, IVR systems and CTI were added to create a full-fledged call center.
Server Based Call Center: A server based call center integrates all the components of a call center into server as software components. Server based call centers offer three main advantages. One dramatically lower cost. A server based call center costs far less.
Standard hardware and software components rather than proprietary systems and the elimination of expensive and difficult due to the need for integrating proprietary systems from different vendors the total cost of ownership upto one fourth of the traditional architecture. Other advantages of server based call centers is, they provide in increasing the sale of operations. Most of the information delivery is moving towards the web and hence web integration becomes very important for providing good access to customers. The multimedia handling capability of server based systems will become crucial in the coming years as communication will be through rich “Hypermedia”, which will seamlessly integrate video, voice and data.
Both telecommunication and computer equipment must be sized appropriately to handle call loads projected for a call center. A certain number of incoming PSTN trunks will be required to handle a specific load. PBX/ACD and IVR units must have an appropriate number of network connections. Appropriate sizing of each of these components is essential for efficient call center implementation and operation.
Server based call center architectures are generally non-blocking, hence the complexity is reduced to estimating the call load, which is used to derive the number of PSTN ports required. A general rule of thumb is that the ratio of PSTN ports to number of agents for effective agent utilization should be between 1.5 to 2.
Telecommunication equipment is generally sized based on peak loads and desired performance levels. Various formulas and queuing algorithms are used to determine line and port configurations for incoming call center operations.
Call Centers initially recruited employees with minimum educational qualification, with a good command over the English language. A basic graduation degree will no longer be enough to land a call center job. The slow down in securing
customers for basic call centers is making existing call center operators move up the value chain by repositioning themselves as help desks.
Several players are already gearing up to offer both services under the same roof. The transition from call center to help desk will also spur the demand for better qualified professionals, software engineers for instance, since a help desk’s basic function is to provide customers with quick solutions to specific problems.
According to Harsh Manglik country managing director of Accenture India. “A typical call centers is perceived to be made up of low end operators answering customer calls. But we are moving up the value chain to position the call center as a help desk for telecom and health care companies”.
India has traditionally been used by multinationals to offer help desk services. IBM out sources its support and helpdesk services to its facilities in Bangalore for its operating system OS2. Now independent companies are also getting into the act.
He says “Once you can convince the customer about the reliability of the telecom infrastructure and ensure that the leased lines will not go down, it is easier to get business. Most customers are aware there is trained manpower in India to offer theses services”.
Today, about four percent of the total employment in US is in support services. Most companies are now looking at relocating their support service functions to places like India, which offers a cost advantage. To capture this business, existing call center operators will have to upgrade to help desks, which is where the money is.
“What prospects does India has to have become one the major source of customer service industry?”
With India emerging as call center capital of the CRM world, many MNCs and start-ups are setting operations here. The country has become an obvious choice of the industry as it provides a large pool of English speaking professionals who are also very passionate about making a career in the field of IT enabled services.
India is well placed to handle back office fulfillment and Business process delivery systems in areas such as Internet-, HR- & Accounting Services, Transaction Processing Services plus Customers Service.
India has a large population of highly educated people, a well developed software and CTI Industry and a large unemployed workforce – cost of labor is Computer Software Integrators with a proven track record in both software development, implementation & application area.
But Call Center business is not just plug and play. You need to have an excellent understanding of the industry. You have to deal in quality and there is no second chance. Words once said by the agent are gone. The level of skill and quality required is much higher when the agents have to sell a product or service to a remote customer.
The English spoken by Indians is a very heavy dialect. In 1981 when GE established The GE Answer Center in Louisville Kentucky, 3 months was spent researching which American dialect would best be suited for all Americans before the location was decided upon. So here we’re 20 years later and an average American are expected to understand Indian-English-quite a challenge to both the customers and the staff.
The non-existent Customer Service Culture in India will make training of reps mandatory and difficult, since such a luxury as service is not part of everyday life in India.
There is further need to improve infrastructure. The business culture and the mix of Government intervention will be a cultural shock for Western Business People with no previous experience.
Add to this a lack of a Call Center Industry and very few people with Call Center experience which makes it very hard to recruit Call Centre managers with a proven track record.
It is predicted that the Indian Call Centre Boom will be short lived unless its based on Indian Joint Venture Partners with experience in handling both regulatory hurdles and ensuring that the necessary infrastructure is in place.
When India develops its own Customer Service Culture and has de-regulated its Telecom sector, then may be we’ll see a sustainable Call Center Industry to service the large Indian market place.
The Projected Cost savings is best realized by joining up with Indian Company with a proven track record in IT & project management. Beware of short term relationships offering “a pie in the sky”.
But the invisible factor that comes in the way of achieving the objectives of the Call Center Industry is the Stress Factor. There is a direct relationship between stress level and productivity. Particularly, stress in this industry is mainly because of its very nature of business.
In the last couple of years India has become the leader din the Call Center Services industry. With nearly 66% of the worlds outsourcing and call center services business in India, its time to step back and access the pluses and minuses of this industry that has become the panacea for the Indian economy.
Call Center Services offered by a majority of Indian companies are in the low-end of the value chain. The call center services industry essentially requires low value skills. The learning curve is low but slow. It does not require high qualification or degrees to get into call center companies. The compensation for such call center jobs is decent, compared to jobs for the same qualification in any other industry. This often results in mass complacency, where fresh graduates prefer to take up a call center job rather than study further or enter any core sector of specialization.
Looking at the industry from a long-term perspective, India can do itself more harm than good if it does not move up the value chain. India would not like to repeat American follies. America in the 50s and 60s had high school graduates who could get good jobs and a decent paycheck. This generation was caught in a kind of time warp they are struggling to get out of even now – a general acceptance of low education levels. In fact this is one of the many reasons that Asian countries have become the outstanding and call center havens for America and Europe.
On the up-side, call center services have increased the availability of jobs for fresh graduates substantially. Now, a fresh graduates has more chance of getting a good paycheck than ever before. Engineering graduates prefer to join Call Center Services operations as transit jobs before opting for more technical jobs. This has made call center job retention a major issue for the HR department of call centers.
Call Center Service operations have sprouted in India in cities like Gurgaon, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi et. It has been a window of opportunity for young graduates who would have been busy hunting for a job, to head for entrance tests of a BPO outfit or call center. Call Centers have created jobs for India, theirs no doubt about that.
Call Centers face a major problem though. Since call center operations do not require a stringent graduate education like an engineering degree or likewise, call centers find it extremely difficult to retain jobs. The HR department is hard at work to retain the people it has, after all, they would gladly shift for better salaries.
Call Center Agents need to be continually motivated to avoid those days of frustration when the client shouts at them. Employees on the telephone talking to US destinations enact an American accent, which is often stressful to maintain. Added to this, the nightshifts and odd timings can get frustrating quite often. This is where the HR and their team can play an important role. They try to maintain a friendly and helping atmosphere in office. They often have displays with the latest news from America, so that if any client got chatty on the telephone, the call center representatives won’t be in a fix. Very often an HR manager in a call center will have to contend with office romances and ask them to keep their cool. Besides trouble shooting personal problems, the HR has to handle many daily operations problems, both on a personal and group basis.
Many think that working in a call center is a monotonous job and there is a school of thought, which believes that the growth options are very limited in this field. However, says one on the HR managers of call center, it is not correct to say that the call center jobs are monotonous, in fact they are as challenging and exciting as any other career option.
There are some who believe that call center jobs are too stressful, as they require working in shifts, mostly at nights. However the companies say they do understand that working late nights can be a problem, especially for women employees. Therefore they not only provide transport facilities but also take care of snacks and other energy revitalizes. Usually call centers have five working days in a week, but if someone works during weekends, a suitable compensation is granted. To add more ‘spice’ during night shifts, the companies provide an array of activities which include aerobic sessions, dart boards and mini basketball. They also have relaxation room where an expert can rejuvenate the employees by giving massages.
While most ambitious youngsters see call center services temporary jobs, since starting salaries are often better than average engineering jobs and jobs hard to find, many prefer to enter the call center services market on a term basis but they pay a high price for that.
This study concentrates on the Stress experienced by the agents or the representatives of call centers. The sources and effects of the stress are highlighted with a few recommendations to work on the same.
STRESS IN CALL CENTERS
Stress exists in every walk of life or work and call centers are no exception. Call Centers are stressful work environments. The demand of serving the customer in real-time helps to lay the foundation. Add to this, factor such as job repetition, potential job dissatisfaction, poor ergonomics or low pay and the stress level climbs higher. Many things cause stress. Time pressures, high expectations, lack of communication, high call volume, inexperience, ill prepared, to name a few.
Call Centers are living and vibrant workplaces where the demands are high and the need to manage and reduce staff stress is paramount. Studies have shown that staff turnover is directly link to a staff person’s ability to deal with Stress.
If stress in the workplace (i.e. the call center) is not on the agenda the results of stress are revealed through higher absenteeism than other parts of the company, higher Worker’s Compensation claims and ultimately in reduced customer satisfaction.
Raising the pay isn’t necessarily the solution. There are many other creative means of managing stress in the call centers. This paper focuses on one group of workers in the utility industry – call center representatives. These are the women and men who assist residents and businesses in establishing or changing their utility service and troubleshooting problems that customers might have with their service, their billing and a host of other issues. While perhaps less visible than the men and women who work on poles or read meters, call center representatives are an important part of the workforce in the utility industry.
These representatives experience stress from a variety of factors, but particularly from the constant monitoring, pressure to work fast, and being disrespected by customers. This stress is leading to physical problems and emotional distress for employees, which ultimately hurts their work performance. The constant pressure to answer more calls with less people has given us the Age of the ‘battery call center’.
Long hours of work , permanent night shifts, incredibly high work targets, loss of identity… are the dark clouds that threaten to mar the ‘sunshine’ call center industry in India?
Irate customers who never seem to respect to the person helping them are hard to please even when the service is at its best. Especially American customers are known for using abusing words very frequently. The representatives who are Indian by birth find it very offensive. For them, it is difficult to be immune to those abusive words.
Not finding time to spend with family members makes the respondents feel isolated, Also due to the time constraint they find it difficult to indulge in their extra curricular activities. These frustrations affect the quality of performance though the representatives are aware that their performance is monitored every minute.
Many people, between 18 and 21 years, are seeking counseling. Today, most top executives acknowledge that a steady turnover of staff is an inevitable aspect of this industry. The reasons could be boredom, seeking better prospects or a change, or inadequate training for the job. Or the toll taken by this demanding job.
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ACCENTURE COMPANY PROFILE
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, committed to delivering innovation.
Accenture: The Growth of a Global Leader
Continuous innovation and rapid transformation have been themes throughout Accenture’s history.
Initially called Andersen Consulting, Accenture was formally established in 1989 when a group of partners from the Consulting division of the various Arthur Andersen firms around the world formed a new organization focused on consulting and technology services related to managing large-scale systems integration and enhancing business processes.
That same year Accenture formalized Business Integration, its framework for aligning a client’s people, processes and technology in support of its overall strategy to enable all components of the client organization to work to enhance business performance. During its first 10 years, Accenture evolved from a systems integrator to a global management consulting and technology services company, providing the full range of consulting, outsourcing and related technology services.
For instance, in 1991 Accenture began work on one of its first major outsourcing arrangements when the company started managing British Petroleum Exploration’s accounting, finance and support functions from a special center that it established in Aberdeen, Scotland. In 1994 the company established the Accenture Technology Labs—then known as Centers for Strategic Technology—in Palo Alto, California, and Sophia Antipolis, France. As the technology R&D organization within Accenture, the Accenture Technology Labs create a vision of how technology will shape the future and invent the next wave of cutting-edge business solutions. In fact, technological innovation is part of Accenture’s heritage, as the company traces its roots back to 1954 with the installation at General Electric of the first computer for business application.
A New Name, A New Direction
By 2000, Accenture had achieved more than a decade of tremendous growth, with net revenues exceeding US$9.5 billion and more than 75,000 professionals in 47 countries delivering to clients a broad range of consulting, technology and outsourcing services and solutions.
On Jan. 1, 2001, the company changed its name to Accenture (from Andersen Consulting) as the result of an arbitrator’s decision in August 2000 that severed the contractual ties between Accenture and Andersen Worldwide Society Cooperative (AWSC). Accenture then launched one of the largest and most successful re-branding campaigns in corporate history. The new name reinforced Accenture’s new positioning and reflected the organization’s further growth and broadened set of capabilities.
By 2001, it became apparent to Accenture’s partners that maintaining the organization’s existing structure—since its inception in 1989, Accenture had operated as a group of locally owned independent partnerships or other entities in more than 40 countries—would limit the company’s ability to continue its growth. Therefore, the partners decided to transition to corporate form, enabling Accenture to build and acquire the necessary capital to remain competitive and fuel its growth.
In April 2001, Accenture’s partners voted overwhelmingly to pursue an initial public offering, and Accenture became a public company on July 19, 2001, when it listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ACN.
Today Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, identifying new business and technology trends and developing solutions to help clients around the world enter new markets, increase revenues in existing markets, improve operational performance, and deliver their products and services more effectively and efficiently.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with net revenues of US$16.65 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2006. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments.
Our “high performance business” strategy builds on our expertise in consulting, technology and outsourcing to help clients perform at the highest levels so they can create sustainable value for their customers and shareholders. Using our industry knowledge, service-offering expertise and technology capabilities, we identify new business and technology trends and develop solutions to help clients around the world:
- Enter new markets.
- Increase revenues in existing markets.
- Improve operational performance.
- Deliver their products and services more effectively and efficiently.
We have extensive relationships with the world’s leading companies and governments and work with organizations of all sizes—including 87 of the Fortune Global 100 and nearly two-thirds of the Fortune Global 500. Our commitment to client satisfaction strengthens and extends our relationships. For example, 96 of our top 100 clients in fiscal year 2005 based on revenue, have been clients for at least five years, and 83 have been clients for at least 10 years.
Among the many strengths that distinguish Accenture in the marketplace are our:
- Extensive industry expertise.
- Broad and evolving service offerings.
- Expertise in business transformation outsourcing.
- History of technology innovation and implementation, including our research and development capabilities, on which we spend approximately $250 million each year.
- Commitment to the long-term development of our employees.
- Proven and experienced management team.
Our Core Values have shaped the culture and defined the character of our company, guiding how we behave and make decisions:
Stewardship: Building a heritage for future generations, acting with an owner mentality, developing people everywhere we are, and meeting our commitments to all internal and external stakeholders.
Best People: Attracting and developing the best talent for our business, stretching our people and developing a “can do” attitude.
Client Value Creation: Improving our clients’ business performance, creating long-term, win-win relationships and focusing on execution excellence.
One Global Network: Mobilizing the power of teaming to deliver consistently exceptional service to our clients anywhere in the world.
Respect for the Individual: Valuing diversity, ensuring an interesting and inclusive environment, and treating people as we would like to be treated ourselves.
Integrity: Inspiring trust by taking responsibility, acting ethically, and encouraging honest and open debate
By enhancing our consulting and outsourcing expertise with alliances and other capabilities, we help move clients forward in every part of their businesses, from strategic planning to day-to-day operations. With approximately 140,000 people in 48 countries, deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills and technologies to help clients improve their performance.
Accenture's ability to help clients identify and leverage insight and innovations are key ingredients. Our deep industry expertise and insight, our ability to help drive business processes coupled with access to and development of leading-edge technologies and tools produce results setting the course for a high-performance future.
Company Overview: India
Accenture has been operating in India since 1987. Today Accenture serves more than 150 clients, including Fortune 1000 companies, through its operations in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Gurgoan.
Accenture considers India one of its largest developing markets. The company is committed to the overall development of the Indian corporate sector and is keen to partner with Indian companies in their growth. In India, Accenture works for seven of the top 10 business groups; six of the top 10 companies (based on sales). Accenture helps our clients in India by aggressively driving innovation with thought leadership and implementation to enable companies to become high-performance organizations
India is an integral part of Accenture's global delivery model, which enables the company to provide clients with seamless delivery of services from multiple geographic locations, with 24/7 coverage. Accenture's global business approach brings together the right mix of people, skills and capabilities to provide cost-effective solutions and services, with consistently high quality, reduced risk and speed-to-market, regardless of location.
The Accenture delivery centers in India enable Accenture to extend its global reach and provide deep technology, outsourcing and industry skills and a proven delivery approach. Driving this capability through the India delivery centers helps Accenture deliver quality services at competitive prices that enhance a client's business performance. The India delivery centers provide a wide variety of services, including applications development and maintenance, as well as various business process outsourcing capabilities, such as call center, human resources, and finance and administration functions.
Accenture's delivery centers in India are one node among many in its global delivery model—a global network of more than 40 integrated delivery centers in over 30 countries that provide a seamless set of offerings and capabilities to meet each client's unique priorities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Accenture has delivery center facilities in North America (Toronto, Dallas, Chicago, Wilmington, Atlanta), South America (Sao Paolo), Europe (London, Madrid, Malaga, Barcelona, Prague, Warwick) and the Far East/Asia (Mumbai, Bangalore, Bangkok, Dalian, Manila, Jakarta), among others. By sharing common methods, tools, architectures and processes, Accenture professionals working at delivery centers can collaborate with those at client sites to deliver reliable solutions quickly and efficiently.
Accenture believes in the association between leadership and organization success. Our leaders in India have always focused on their ability to lead change and to develop leaders among their reports. As agents of change, they help define the leadership journey and the visionary goal; and also help measure progress against achieving the vision throughout the change process. Our senior executives sets direction, align constituencies and motivate individuals within the organization. They help envision success and lead change personally.
We have some inspiring and interesting people leading the Accenture team in India. Meet Accenture's India Executive Leadership team.
Accenture Managing Partner, North Asia and South Asia products practice. Managing Partner, India Domestic Businesses
Rekha M. Menon
Lead, India Geographic Services
Lead Executive, Accenture Delivery Centre for Technology, India
P. G. Raghuraman
Accenture Delivery Centre for BPO
Chairman and Managing Director
Lead Executive, Accenture Delivery Centre for Technology, India .
Sandeep Arora is responsible for managing Accenture's Delivery Centers for Technology in India. The India delivery centers provide application outsourcing and systems integration services across the full range of technology capabilities to global clients.
Starting his career with Accenture in 1994, Sandeep has led many significant projects, particularly in the communications & high tech industry. During these years at Accenture, he successfully delivered a number of large-scale and technically complex systems and business process change initiatives. Overall, he has a very impressive track record in both sales and delivery of technology solutions.
Sandeep has more than 18 years of experience in the IT industry having worked both in India and overseas. Before Accenture, he worked for Tektronix and Mentor Graphics in the United States.
Sandeep is a mechanical engineer from IIT Delhi and holds a master's in computer science
Chairman and Managing Director Accenture, India .
Harsh Manglik is the chairman and managing director of Accenture's operations in India. He is responsible for the growth and development of its business across all of the company's Indian operations.
An engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and holder of an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Case Western Reserve University, Manglik has more than 25 years of experience as a global business and consulting leader.
He joins Accenture from Symantec Corp., based in the United States, where he was worldwide vice president, services solutions engineering, responsible for the development of the company's new service offerings. Earlier in his career, he worked with IBM Global Services for nearly 10 years in US, Asia-Pacific and global leadership positions, as well as serving as an executive at Pratt & Whitney/United Technologies Corp. and as a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton.
Accenture Global Delivery Network: Accenture's Delivery Centers in India
India Delivery Centre
The Accenture Delivery Centers in India further extend our ability to deliver cutting-edge solutions around the globe, and are a key element in providing a wide variety of services and integrated resources in expanding markets.
In recent years, India has emerged as one of the largest players in the information technology and business process outsourcing industries with access to a large pool of talented professionals. Accenture's India-based delivery centers allow us to extend our global reach to provide clients with competitively priced, high-quality services that enhance their business performance.
Our local consulting practice in India began in 1987. Since then we have increased our foothold to provide global services through a network consisting of three facilities in Mumbai, three facilities in Bangalore, one in Hyderabad and one in Chennai. Each is built to meet our Global Delivery Network specifications in terms of functionality, network infrastructure, business continuity capability and data center and employee support infrastructure. Common methodologies make global sourcing seamless for our clients wherever they are—and ensure that their all-important customers receive the correct levels of service.
These centers are working with more than 150 North American and European clients in providing a wide variety of services, including application development and support; and the provision of full outsourcing services for contact center, human resources and finance and administration functions. Technologies deployed include Enterprise packages such as SAP R/3, Siebel, PeopleSoft, Oracle as well as MS, Java/J2EE and mainframes-based platforms. The India IT delivery centers are CMM Level 5 certified.
Delivery Center in New Delhi is the latest node in Accenture's expanding Global Delivery Network
Accenture has launched a delivery center in Gurgaon, India, in the National Capital Region of Delhi, for application and infrastructure outsourcing and systems integration services. The facility is Accenture's 10th delivery center in India, and represents further expansion of the company's Global Delivery Network.
The new delivery center will provide these services across a full range of technology capabilities, including Java/J2EE, SAP, Microsoft.Net, Mainframes and testing.
Accenture will be recruiting among the region's substantial population of well-educated and talented technology graduates and professionals for the new center, which will have a 1,100-seat capacity. In addition, the company will offer opportunities for experienced Accenture professionals across levels and technology specialties to relocate to Gurgaon.
The Accenture delivery center in Gurgaon is Accenture's sixth city presence in India, joining others in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune, which together serve more than 200 Accenture clients. Through its Global Delivery Network, Accenture has grown its headcount in India significantly over the past three years, from fewer than 4,000 in 2003 to more than 19,000 as of May 2006.
"This new facility in Gurgaon will support our growth plans in India, which is a key node in Accenture's Global Delivery Network," said Keith Haviland, managing director, Accenture Delivery Center for Technology. "Our employees here will work seamlessly with their colleagues around the world, sharing the same training, methodology, tools and metrics to ensure consistent, high-quality services for our clients."
Accenture's Global Delivery Network comprises more than 47,000 people, including local Accenture professionals working at client sites around the world, and more than 40 delivery centers in over 30 countries throughout Asia, Europe and the Americas.
"Launching a facility in Gurgaon is being driven by two factors," said Sandeep Arora, lead executive, Accenture Delivery Center for Technology in India. "First, we continue to see very strong client demand for Accenture's services from India. Second, we believe we can fulfil that demand with the large pool of high-quality technical and professional talent in the city."
OBJECTIVES & METHODOLOGY
DESIGN OF THE STUDY
INTRODUCTION TO THE BACKGROUND
The subject is taken keeping in consideration the need to know the stressors in Accenture Call Center. There is a need to know the various factors (overt and covert), which causes stress for the call center representatives.
In this Call Center, employees are under intense stress and pressure. A constant pressure can lead to withdrawal and frustration, which affect the quality of their work. The identification of these stressors is important to overcome them.
Call Center industry is said to have the highest attrition rate. This can be related to stress level they experience. Coupled with the physical symptoms are certain emotional symptoms. These include excessive and rapid mood swings, worrying about trivial things, lack of empathy, excessive concern for physical health, withdrawing and daydreaming, feelings of tiredness, lack of ability to concentrate, increased irritability and anxiety.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The title of the project work is “A study of job stress among employees of Accenture Call Center in Bangalore”. Call Center Service operations have sprouted in India in cities like Gurgaon, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi etc. It has been a window of opportunity for young graduates who would have been busy hunting for a job, to head for entrance tests of a BPO outfit or call center. Call Centers have created jobs for India, Theirs no doubt about that.
However there are nearly 100's of call center service operators in India that are just leasing out idle space since they have no projects. Tight budgeting and managing HR problems must be their strengths; what with high attrition rates in this sector, they will never be able to sustain their quality of service.
Call Center Agents need to be continually motivated to avoid those days of frustration when the client shouts at them. Employees on the telephone talking to US destinations enact an American accent which is often stressful to maintain. Added to this the nightshifts and odd timings can get frustrating quite often. This is where the HR and their team can play an important role.
Apparently, the call centers try their best to help the representatives to cope with the stress and also minimize it.
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Purpose of Literature Survey: A number of literatures can be found about call centers and its representatives. For example a research work done by Mr. G.Ravi focuses on “Effectiveness of motivational factors for employees in Accenture call center”. Also many web sites regarding various concepts of call centers have been set up. But there are few literature and web sites about “Stress in Call Centers”.
The research work by Mr. G.Ravi does not highlight the purpose of motivation. The research only focuses on the effectiveness of various motivational factors but fail to justify that the call centers representatives experience great deal of stress and hence the need for motivation. Thus this project work tries to justify the same.
Methodology of Literature Survey: The researcher visited the British Library, Central Library and also libraries of various institutions for the purpose of finding out if any literature was available about “Job stress among representatives of call centers”. Web sites like www.callcenterops.com, www.callcentersindia.com, www.callcenterboom.com, were visited for the same purpose. Also various articles and publications were collected which had some information about the selected topic, but hardly of good significance.
Conclusion of Literature Survey: There are many articles and publications about call center representatives undergoing stress. But these and many other literature like that of Mr.G.Ravi research work, fail to identify the representatives' perception of stress causers. A lot has been said and printed about strenuous working environment in call centers but aspects like what exactly contributes to the strenuous environment has been sidelined by these literatures. This research work particularly incorporates these aspects.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is a step towards ascertaining the sources of stress in Accenture Call Center . It is a known fact that in a call center, people work, often at unearthly hours, under monotonous conditions & under stress. At such conditions, other than monetary benefits, it is important to know what else can or does motivate the call center representatives, to ensure that they do not leave the company. ‘What causes stress and how to minimize them' is equally important.
The study was carried out in Accenture call center in Bangalore City. It is a sincere effort to identify factors that lead to stress among the representatives of call centers so that suggestions and recommendations from the researcher's end can alleviate the same and make them more productive. This forms the scope of the subject.
NEED FOR STUDY
Managing requires the creation and maintenance of an environment in which individuals work together in a group toward accomplishment of common objectives.
In present market scenario, call centers are in boom. In Accenture call center, two fifty to three hundred employees work together under one roof synchronizing their activities to achieve common goals. For optimum co-ordination and effort by the employees it is very crucial for a manager to know what causes stress and how to minimize or overcome it in their organization. Although, there has been little research in the field of employees' stress factors and the management of the same, there is a hardly a record of any such study conducted for determining job stress factors among representatives of call centers. These aspects have formed a need for this study.
OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
To bring out an explorative & descriptive project work on factors causing job stress among representatives of Accenture call center in Bangalore”.
To find out the factors contributing to stress among representatives working in this call center .
To find out the effects of these stress causes on this call center representative.
To find out how men and women representatives differ in their perception of sources of stress.
To know how the organizational structure and climate can help the representatives to cope with stress.
To find out what are the motivational factors that drive representatives to cope with the job stress.
To come out with suitable suggestions & recommendations, based on the findings of the study.
There exists gap in any sector in this life and environment. However, research can identify the gap and quantity it wherever possible which helps in decision making. In the present environmental context, adequate and systematic supply of information coupled with appropriate tools and techniques of analysis has acquired a unique significance. As a purposeful investigation of a problem research helps an organization in finding out causes and clues for making sound and effective decisions by applying scientific methodology to the art of management. Thus research methodology plays a contributing role in decision making based on all the facts and also suggestions from the noble project guide, an Exploratory & Descriptive research method is considered ideal and hence adopted for this project work.
Sampling refers to the scientific method of selecting a part out of a lot or also called ‘Population'. The method of selecting the part of a population is called ‘Sampling Technique'. It is described as under:
(a) Sampling Method: In this project work , simple random sampling technique is used following lottery method.
(b) Sampling Unit: This refers to ‘who are to be surveyed'. In this research work, representatives of Accenture call center are surveyed.
(c) Sampling population: In this survey, all the people who are working in Accenture call center considered as population. In this case, there are said to be around three hundred call center representatives in Bangalore. The sample is chosen from among these 300 representatives.
(b) Sampling Procedure: This refers to ‘how they are to be selected'. In this case, the representatives working in Accenture callcentre were selected based on ‘Random Sampling Technique'. The representatives were chosen at random following lottery method. Names of all the three hundred representatives were written down in small slips and the names were concealed. Eighty slips were picked up, thus giving equal opportunity for all of them to get selected. Thus, all the 80 samples were chosen.
(c) Sampling Media: This refers to ‘how are they to be reached'. In this case, all the selected respondents were reached personally by the researcher. They were administered with the structured questionnaire for collecting the necessary data. Some of the filled questionnaires were received through E-mail.
(d) Sampling Size: This refers to ‘how many are to be surveyed'. Conceptually the sample must reflect the characteristics of the population. In this case, considering the subject matter of the project work and also the suggestion from the project guide, a sample size of 80 was considered as adequate for the study, sufficient to represent the characteristics of the population, which totals to about 300.
(e) Sample Design: The questionnaire sets were supplied to all selected Eighty representatives. Amongst the eighty members, forty were male respondents and remaining forty were female respondents and all of them responded very well. Thus, out of 80 samples, 40 are males & the remaining 50 are females. Equal weight age has been assigned to both the genders to avoid possible gender bias.
(f) Place of the Study: The survey was carried out in Accenture call centers in Bangalore city.
(g) Period of Study: The period of study was 5-6 weeks during May-June 2006 when the representatives of the Call Centers were contacted for the purpose of primary data collection.
(h) Data Collection: Information expressed in numerical form is called ‘Data'. They are classified into two types: Primary & Secondary.
In this project work, Primary Data is collected from the Accenture call center representatives using the questionnaire method.
Secondary Data is that data which is already collected and processed by some other agency for the generic / specific purpose. For the purpose of this project work, it is collected from Company Magazines, website through the Internet, Business Journals & news papers etc.,. The secondary data is used in this project work as a reference and to co - relate the findings. These secondary sources of data were identified during the course of carrying out the project work.
(i) Instrumentation Technique: Primary Data for the study was collected through a structured questionnaire, which was developed based on the objectives of the study. These questionnaires were distributed to the respondents with a request to return after completing the same. Questionnaire was prepared very carefully using closed probes to facilitate easy answering by ticking the relevant choices so that it proved to be effective in collecting relevant information.
A rigid procedure to seek answer to set preconceived questions through personal interviews was also one of the steps in collecting primary data.
Few respondents, who could not return the filled-in questionnaire immediately personally, returned it through e-mail.
CSR (Customer Service Representatives): This category of representatives is the ones who interact with the end users of products. In Call Center Industry, the CSRs interact with the customers over the telephone. The calls in this case may be inbound or outbound.
TSR (Technical Service Representatives): This Category of representatives help the customers about technicalities of the products sold by the client companies. If the customers have any technical problems, TSRs are contacted, in a call center.
(j) Plan for Analysis
Data collected through structured questionnaires were analyzed step by step, in the following manner:
All the questionnaires were processed and were edited as per the objectives of the study.
The data were Tran scripted from the questionnaire to the worksheet.
The data was then tabulated for the purpose of consolidation and the findings were recorded.
The consolidated data were analyzed & interpreted logically.
Based on the findings, conclusions were arrived at rationally.
Statistical method such as tables, frequencies, percentages, graphical representations, etc., are used as scientific approaches.
All the findings of the study are based on the assumption that the information given by the respondents are accurate.
Limitations of the Study
Efforts were made to see that the data collected and analyzed were as accurate as much as possible.
Despite all precautions taken, certain limitations of the study can be observed.
The samples size taken was not very large, mainly because of time & other constraints.
Since the duration of the project research was just 5-6 weeks, vast information was difficult to collect analyze.
Stress factors include a wide array of variables, which was not possible to include all, hence only a selected few were considered.
This study is restricted to representatives of Accenture call center only.
Call Centers situated & operating in Bangalore city are considered for this study.
This study is confirmed to 80 representatives only, who are supposed to bear true reflections of the characteristics of their population.
However, the researcher has exercised sincere efforts to the best of her ability to collect, rearrange, classify and analyze the data within a short period of 5-6 weeks, though it was a Herculean task.
ANALYSIS & INTERPRETATION
Respondents were the employees of Accenture Call Centers in Bangalore. Respondents were questioned by providing a set of structured questionnaire. Also an informal interview was conducted to extract information regarding few questions which the respondents didn't want to disclose in the questionnaire.
Majority of them were freshers in the call center industry with a maximum working experience of 1-2 years.
Eighty- call center representatives, (fourty male and fourty female) answered the questionnaire. Obviously, men & women almost similar in their perception of sources of stress.
Qualifications wise they were fresh graduates with very little or no work experience. Few were Master Graduates also. Many did not want to disclose their marital status.
The age of the respondents were ranging from 21 to 28.
The respondents seemed to be enthusiastic and fresh from college. They were co-operative enough to answer the questionnaire and also responding to the informal interview.
Significant number of both male & female respondents (75 percent male & 80 percent female) has working tenure of 1 - 2 years. The majority of male (10 percent) & female (5 percent) respondents have a working tenure of 2 - 3 years. Equal percentage (5 percent) of both male & female respondents has work tenure of less than 1 year. And also the remaining respondents have tenure of 3 - 4 years.
TABLE NO. 1
Less than 1 yr
1 - 2 yrs
2 - 3 yrs
3 - 4 yrs
7.DO YOU FEEL IMPAIRMENT IN YOUR VOICE BECAUSE OF YOUR WORK?
¨ Male : Majority of respondents (60 percent) say that exactly feel impairment in voice. (30 percent) say ‘not exactly' majority of the respondents and the remaining 10 percent definitely feel some what yes in their voice.
¨ Female: Majority of respondents (60 percent) don't exactly agree that they feel impairment in voice. The next majority (25 percent) somewhat agree and the rest of 15 percent definitely suffer from impairment.
TABLE NO. 2
IMPAIRMENT OF VOICE
9.DO YOU EXPERIENCE CHANGE IN MONTHLY AND WEEKLY SHIFTS?
75 percent of both male and female respondents experience change in monthly/weekly shifts and rest 25 percent experience no change in their shifts.
TABLE NO. 3
CHANGE IN MONTHLY AND WEEKLY SHIFTS?
GRAPH FOR TABLE NO. 3
CHANGE IN MONTHLY AND WEEKLY SHIFTS?
9(A) IS IT EASY TO COPE WITH CHANGES IN THE SHIFT?
¨ Male: Of the 40 number of respondents, 50 percent say that it is difficult to cope with monthly /weekly change in shifts timings. 35 percent say that it is somewhat easy to cope with changes and the rest (15 percent ) feel that it is easy and they don't have a problem with the same.
¨ Female: Of the 40 number of respondents, 50 percent feel that is difficult to cope with change in shifts and 35 percent of them feel that it is somewhat easy, though it is a bit inconvenient. While the rest (15 percent) say that it is easy.
TABLE NO. 4
COPING WITH CHANGES
GRAPH FOR TABLE NO. 4
COPING WITH CHANGES
13. HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE ACTIVITIES MOST AFFECTED
Significant numbers of both male (40.82 percent) & female (38 percent) respondents have ranked Sleep First, Appetite has been ranked second by majority of both male (30.62 percent) & female (38 percent) respondents. Social relationships have been ranked three by 30.61 percent of male & 32 percent of female respondents. Other interests have been ranked fourth by 34.70 percent of male & 36 percent female respondents.
TABLE NO. 5
RATING OF THE ACTIVITIES
Percentage of Respondents for ranks
Gender wise Responses
3. Social Relationships
GRAPH FOR TABLE NO. 5
RATING OF THE ACTIVITIES
14. DO YOU SUFFER FROM ANY OF THE FOLLOWING BECAUSE OF YOUR WORK
Only 5 percent of male & female respondents say that they do not suffer from the options/aliments mentioned above. The rest of the respondents suffer from more than one of the ailments.
TABLE NO. 6
SUFFERING FROM ANY AILMENTS
GRAPH FOR TABLE NO. 6
SUFFERING FROM ANY OF THE AILMENTS
17. YOU FEEL YOU ARE TOO PRE-OCCUPIED IN YOUR PRESENT ROLE TO DEVELOP A CAREER OF YOUR INTEREST
Majority of respondents, both male and female 55 percent relatively agree to the statement. While 27.5 percent of female respondents say “not exactly “. 27.5 percent definitely assert to the statement.
TABLE NO. 7
PRE-OCCUPIED IN YOUR PRESENT ROLE
GRAPH FOR TABLE NO. 7
PRE-OCCUPIED IN YOUR PRESENT ROLE
21. DOES YOUR COMPANY HELP YOU IN ANY WAY TO COPE WITH THE WORK PRESSURE
Majority of respondents, both male and female 80 percent seems to agree that their company does help them to cope with work pressure. While the rest 20 percent of them do not agree.
TABLE NO. 8
COMPANY HELP TO COPE WITH THE WORK PRESSURE
GRAPH FOR TABLE NO. 8
COMPANY HELP TO COPE WITH THE WORK PRESSURE
21(A) . HAS THE COMPANY PROVIDED ANY OF THE FOLLOWING FACILITIES
For a majority of 25 respondents, Recreational games are provided. The next (8) majority say that “other facilities” are provided. While 3 numbers of respondents have said that a Gym is being provided in their company, 2 of them say that a Counselor is always present whenever they need. And for the rest 2 of them say “Exercise instructor” is provided.
TABLE NO. 9
FACILITIES PROVIDED BY THE COMPANY
Number of respondents
GRAPH FOR TABLE NO. 9
FACILITIES PROVIDED BY THE COMPANY
SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS, FINDINGS & SUGGESTIONS
By any measure, call centers are a growing business, with many large organizations looking to them as the primary way of interacting with their customers. Call Centers provide many business advantages, including: improved efficiency, increased hours of operation, reduced costs and greater flexibility.
Perhaps the challenge of running a call center, however, is ensuring that customers are provided with the right information in a timely fashion. To ensure this the CSRs (Customer Service Representatives) and TSRs (Technical Service Representatives) are to be provided an environment, which is stress free.
The quotas for number of calls required per day for each CSR is perceived differently by each CSR and they believe that such quotas create low morale and high job dissatisfaction. Employees' feels the quotas affect their quality of work, making them feel like machines. As the pace of work has increased with higher quotas and fewer staff to take calls, the quality of service and the rewards of the job have decreased dramatically.
Accenture workers report a high overall stress level. This stress comes from a variety of factors, but particularly from the constant monitoring, pressure to work fast, and above all being disrespected by customers. This stress is leading to physical problems and emotional distress for employees, which ultimately upsets their work performance.
In this report, how male and female respondents differed in their perception of sources of stressors was highlighted. However, they differ only on certain variables (which cause stress). For example, when asked if it is difficult to cope with changes in the shifts, more number of male respondents felt it was easy for them to cope with, whereas females differed significantly. More number of male respondents expressed that they hardly get any time to indulge in their other interests. Compared to male respondents, more female respondents felt that a lot time is being wasted while commuting to work place and back home. Men must have accepted commuting to their work place as a routine part of any job.
So what keeps them motivated? Respondents have reported various motivational factors. The list in the order if importance is as follow:- Colleagues, Friends, Personal
Drive, Working Environment, Family, Monetary Factors, Company Co-operation and Others.
FINDINGS FROM THE STUDY
This chapter contains a brief outlook from the previous chapter. From the data collected through the Questionnaire, the following observations can be made.
1. Most of the respondents (72 percent ) irrespective of gender difference, are freshers having a working tenure of 1 - 2 years, 15 percent having a tenure between 2 - 3 years, 10 percent have been working for less than one year and a mere 3 percent having the longest tenure of 3 - 4 years.
2. Mondays and Tuesdays are the most strenuous days of the week for the call center representatives. Thus 63 percent of them are of the opinion that the workload will be too heavy on particular days of the week. 12 percent of them say that workload is equally heavy on all the days of the week. However 25 percent say that when there is an occasional problem with the service, workload is heavy otherwise it is manageable.
3. There appears to be greater dissatisfaction with work practices than work space among respondents. Many have formal quotas for the number of calls they must make /receive per day. They say that is “extremely difficult” to meet the quota; and there are others who say that it is “difficult”. While penalties are common in the form of escalating to the supervisor if there is dissatisfaction, incentives are not --neither for individuals nor groups. Very few report that they have no formal quotas for the sales they must make per day.
4. Most of the male respondents seem to suffer from voice impairment, compared to females. When the workload is too heavy with hardly any time to take breaks, representatives feel kind of voice loss which reduces their efficiency by the next call.
5. Not considering the numerical differences both male and female respondents feel that hardly find time to spend with their family. Call Centers are stressful work environments. The demand of serving the customer in real-time takes toll and at the end of the day's work, all the representatives want is good sleep. They sleep the whole day and work the whole night and end up having no time for family.
6. 68 percent of the respondents experience change in monthly/weekly shifts and about half of them feel it is difficult to cope with the changes in the shift timings. Based on the speculation of requirements, the call centers keep changing their shifts. During particular period of the year say vacation season, they require more number of representatives to attend the customer calls, But the respondents feel isolated when the shifts keep changing.
7. Given the good pay and great working environment, call centers are very attractive good inter personal relationships tend to develop over the period of time. But many respondents say that the work they do in their organization is not related to their interest and they are here either because of handsome pay and good environment. Many are here due to failure to find a job elsewhere (of their interest). But it is interesting to note that almost equal number of respondents seem to be thoroughly enjoying their work.
8. Male respondents seem to find enough time to indulge in their other interests, as 8 percent of them say that they always have time while only 4 percent of females asserted to the option “always”. There is a narrow difference of opinion among male respondents compared to broader difference among female respondents, regarding options given. Majority of male respondents hardly find any time while majority of female respondents rarely find time.
9. It can be said that attending to their social and religious activities are not on the priority list of the respondents. Hence around 70 percent of them say that they do not find time to attend to the same. They are able to balance available time for other activities.
10. It is interesting to note that both male and female respondents have ranked the activities in the same order. Sleep has been ranked One, Appetite Second, Social Relationships Third and Other Interest Fourth. Respondents said it takes a longer period of time to adjust t the irregular sleeping hour they suffered a lot during that time and they still find it hard to sleep when the other family members are getting ready to start the day. They say they prefer sleeping in the night than in the day.Long hours of work, permanent night shifts, incredibly high work targets, loss of identity.. are theses the dark clouds that lure the respondents away from food. They feel loss of appetite. But when an informal talking was done with the respondents, few have complained weight gain due to the nature of work.
Some of the respondents said their family members and friends alwayscomplain about their absence to functions and get-together. One more interesting point is these call center representatives tend to develop the slang and accent of the customers they are serving over the phone. They unconsciously use the same while talking to family members and friends and often get teased for using a foreign accent.
Other interests has been ranked fourth. Due to the tight schedule, respondents find it difficult to pursue either their music interests or other academics.
11. Majority of both male and female respondents suffer from Mood swings. The work pressure takes its toll on them and they are not the same person all the time. While the next majority of the male representatives suffer from boredom and disinterested in their work, female representatives suffer from headache. Many suffer from back pain and eyesight deterioration. Of course there are many who say they do not suffered from anything of that sort.
12. Though a considerable number of respondents deny of taking unplanned leave from work, 40 percent of male and 56 percent of female members have agreed that they rarely do take unplanned leave from work. The monotony of job, frequent changes in the shift timings, high target rates etc can be attributed to absenteeism rate in Call Centers.
13. Given a standard script to follow and not many prospects to climb up the ladder, the representatives feel stagnant in their role… They feel that in a given situation they are able to differentiate relative importance of rules, policies and regulations and do what is right for the customer and the company and thus feel the need for empowerment.
14. A majority of the representatives are graduates and undergraduates who probably chose this industry to work so that they get paid “cool bucks” (temporarily) while they are still studying or on the look out for more permanent /concrete job. But over the period of time they are too pre-occupied to dedicate time for building a career of their interest or do further studies.
15. The job themselves are highly repetitive and monotonous. Dealing within a limited range of inquiries and tasks, workers will take hundreds and sometimes thousands of calls every week. They tend to get bored which affect their quality of performance. Keeping this element in mind, what the Call Centers do is, they introduce job rotation. These keep employees busy learning new skills an interacting with new colleagues. Just changing the environment will go a long way in eliminating boredom.
16. Female respondents find it more difficult to maintain same level of quality of performance everyday than their male counterparts (even though their performance is monitored every second). Thus 64 percent of them disagree with the statement a compared to 50 percent of male respondents. Contrarily, 32 percent of male and almost half of female respondents agree to the statement. This may be attributed to their personal drive to excel even in tiring situations.
17. Commutation is one of the basic facilities provided by the management to their employees. But contrarily, many feel a lot of time is wasted during the commutation. It should be noted that more than male respondents, female respondents feel that way. But an equal number of them say “not exactly”.
18. Around 40 percent of both male and female respondents don't feel wastage of time while commuting to the workplace and back home. Reasons given by these people are that they enjoy the time they get to spend with their colleagues which helps them to build inter personal relationships. However the rest feel that a great deal of time is being wasted while commutation, which they feel, cannot be used resourcefully, they feel frustrated by the same which tend to affect their productivity, at times.
19. Majority of the respondents feel that their management definitely help them to cope with the work pressure, by various ways. This functions as a motivating factor for the representatives. The management through motivation, tries to develop and maintain “human relations” i.e “mutual interest, individual differences, motivation an human dignity”. The management provides with an environment which will reasonably meet the economic, social and psychological needs of the employees so that their co-operation could be obtained and the productivity of the organization, enhanced.
20. As a means to help the representatives to build on their interpersonal skills recreational games are conducted. Many call centers have indoor game facilities like billiards, tennis court etc and also a gym, which help employees to take the work pressure off them. A counselor, who the representatives can talk their mind out about difficulties in work life, is also provided. And for employees suffering from physical ailments can take the help of exercise instructor who is appointed by the company.
21. It is interesting to note that majority of both male and female respondents' motivating factor is their colleagues. The relationship that actually exists amongst the employees of call centers does not follow formal lines. The respondents feel that the amount of time they spend with their colleagues even during commutation, adds up to bonding with them. Many are motivated by management co-operative ness as they are provided with “quality people” to help them to work on their quality of work. Management is empathetic enough to grant leave when the circumstances are genuine.
This survey has many suggestions to improve their working conditions. Not surprisingly, they resonate with the findings from the survey. A few of the suggestions that stand out include:
a) Eliminate or reduce quotas: Slowing the pace of work would allow representatives the time to properly deal with customers, allowing for better service and more options to dealing with demanding customers. Employees would be able to lower their stress level somewhat, as they would have a few seconds of minutes between calls.
b) Introduce adequate staffing levels: Adding more staff could decrease the pressure to keep up with the calls each day. This could also help morale, as employees would not feel that the company is only looking o fire people. This would also allow employees adequate time to do necessary tasks, such as starting up their computer and necessary programs, reading e-mails on new policies and procedures, processing time sheets, and sending faxes.
c) More flexibility in work schedules should be introduced: Employees should find ways to accommodate employees with family responsibilities, longer commutes due to mergers, or other personal situations requiring some scheduling flexibility. This does not mean reducing the quantity of work. Instead, developing a willingness to do the job more efficiently could assist employees in balancing complicated lives. The work should be made more enjoyable.
d) Comprehensive induction programmers followed by development training based on needs, with the opportunity to develop broader skills and obtain recognized qualifications. Working in a call centers requires a good knowledge of the services provided by the organization, how the computer systems work and how to deal with customers. Good call centers understand that properly trained staff feels more secure and a training and development programmed can alleviate the often high turnover levels.
e) C.H.A.R.G.E the representatives
C- You can challenge your reps with sales or service goals, incentives, competitions, contests, or anything else that they find motivating.
H - Help them develop the trait of hardiness. Hardiness refers to the psychological ability to bounce back from stress and other negative situations. Reps who possess “hardiness” shrug off a bad call and then provide great service or make a big sale on the next call.
A - Appreciation is the most basic need of all human beings. Reps who are appreciated, recognized and respected will perform better under pressure. People who feel good about themselves perform better. People who perform better feel good about themselves. Motivating them to perform better is the key.
R - When you consider the fast pace of the call center, and the number of calls each rep must handle, there must be time for relaxation. Everyone needs a break, and not just their schedule break. Liberalize relaxation breaks attached with responsibility for work performance, would do wonders.
E - Show empathy. Being a TSR/CSR is a tough job. Just having someone who listens and understands how the rep feels makes the rep wants to return to work and achieve more.
f) Rotate jobs or seat locations. Performance usually improves when you move people to another location. Also the change in job responsibilities provides them with new challenges and goals to achieve.
g) Weekly employee focus group, where any can come to a weekly or biweekly focus group and post questions and issues publicly and addressed. A monthly newsletter from the company or better yet, from the call center operation. Yes, this is a time consuming endeavor but if done rightly and consistently, could be a great medium to communicate new/revised policies, reward employees/teams, train your employees and build strong team spirits.
h) In Accenture call center, a sports day is conducted but it is done more as “in trend activity “rather than for its true purpose. Organize a sports week where the agents and their supervisors are to organize and also take part in the same. This will bring a change in their working performance.
i) Job sharing/intern program where CSRs work half a day on the phones, the other half in the Correspondence Dept, or in the Research Dept, Work Force Management, or Quality Assurance. This breaks up their day, teaches them new skills and provides the company with a pool trained staff, overtime.
j) Management should have a positive approach to a work life balance. Measures to address work life balance should be introduced, including special leave and childcare. Sometimes unnecessarily rigid shift systems that militate against flexible working. Proper forecasting and staffing program can minimize this.
k) Involve Front Line Staff in Creating Solutions. This will lead to open communication that in turn will make decision making more effective.
l) Attention to Ergonomic factors will help reduce stress. Proper ergonomic designing will go a long way in providing physical comfort to the representatives.
m) Develop an internal Ergonomic Program. Welcoming suggestions from representatives about ergonomic designs will help in developing an environment that is customized to the need of representatives.
n) Employee Assistance Program can contribute. This kind of program will make the representatives feel that the company is empathetic towards the personal problems of representatives.
o) Consider Massage Therapy or Yoga as possible solutions. Representatives should be educated about making use of these facilities to their advantage.
p) Moreover the representatives should be aware of the facilities provided to them by their company and use it to their best. Proper and timely circulation of information regarding the facilities provided by the company would help the representatives.
I G.Ravi, conducting a study on “Job Stress in Accenture Call Center in Bangalore”, request you to take few minutes to answer this questionnaire. I assure you the information given will be kept confidential.
1. Name of the respondents: …………………………………………………………….
2. Age: ………………….
3. Sex : Male ( ) Female ( )
4. Working since: 1-2 yrs ( ) 2-3 yrs ( ) 3-4 yrs ( ) more than 5 yrs ( )
5. Average number of calls taken per day: ……………………..
6. You find the work load to be too heavy?
Everyday ( )
On particular days of the week ( )
Occasionally ( )
7. Do you feel impairment in your voice because of your work?
Not exactly ( ) somewhat yes ( ) definitely yes ( )
8. Your role does not allow you to have enough time with your family.
Agree ( ) Disagree ( )
Strongly Agree ( ) Strongly disagree ( )
9. Do you experience change in monthly / weekly shifts?
Yes ( ) No ( )
If yes …
a. Is it easy to cope with changes in the shift?
Easy ( ) somewhat easy ( ) Difficult ( )
10. The work you do in the organization is not related to your interests.
Agree ( ) Disagree ( )
Strongly agree ( ) Strongly Disagree ( )
11. Do you get enough time to indulge in your other interests?
Hardly ( ) Rare ( ) Often ( ) Always ( )
12. Do you get enough time to attend to your social and religious activities?
Yes ( ) No ( )
13. How would you rate the activities most affected?
a. Sleep 1 2 3 4
b. Appetite 1 2 3 4
c. Social Relationships 1 2 3 4
d. Other interests 1 2 3 4
e. None 1 2 3 4
14. Do you suffer from any of the following because of your work?
Headache ( ) Tensions ( ) Anxiety ( )
Mood swings ( ) Boredom ( ) None ( )
15. Due to the nature of your work, you tend to take unplanned leave from work….
Yes ( ) No ( )
16. Do you feel stagnant in your role?
Yes ( ) No ( )
17. You feel you are too pre-occupied in your present role to develop a career of your interest.
Not exactly ( ) somewhat yes ( ) definitely yes ( )
18. Do you experience enough job rotation to maintain the same interest level?
Yes ( ) No ( )
19. It is easy to maintain the same level of quality of performance everyday.
Agree ( ) Disagree ( )
Strongly agree ( ) strongly disagree ( )
20. How do you commute to your workplace and back to home?
a. Personal Vehicle ( )
b. Public Transport ( )
c. Company Cab ( )
If (c) ………………………………………………………………………
(i) Do you feel a lot of time is wasted while commuting?
Not exactly ( ) somewhat yes ( ) definitely yes ( )
21. Does your company help you in any way to cope with the work pressure?
Yes ( ) No ( )
a. Has the company provided any of the following facilities?
Exercise Instructor ( ) Recreational games ( ) Others ( )
Counselor ( ) Gym ( )
22. The motivating factors to cope with work pressure…………
Working environment ( ) Company's co-operativeness ( )
Colleagues ( ) Friends ( )
Family ( ) Personal Drive ( )
Monetary factors ( ) Others ( )
AUTHORS TEXT BOOKS
Rita Agarwal Stress in life and at work
Dr. H.L.Kaila and Dr. Satish Stress Management Pai
Stanberry and Luthans Human Resource
C.B. Memoria and S.V. Personal Management Gankar
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