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We Develop Human Capital "Not to unlearn what you have learned is the most necessary kind of learning" said Antisthenes. Our passion at 'The Enablers' is to develop people. Developing human resources is more important to 'The Enablers' than getting clients. We want to make sure that people take way something valuable and useful for their lives. In our workshops, we create an environment which is conducive to learning. We encourage participants to: • Un-learn what is obsolete. • Learn what is contemporary to become futuristic. • Un-learn and re-learn, un-learn and re-learn again! When people follow these three steps, the miracle process begins - the process of excelling. With this mission, 'The Enablers' was established in January 2004 by Prof. Vivek Hattangadi. ‘The Enablers’ unlock the concealed potential in people and leverage their latent talent so they emerge as winners. In our learning sessions, the participants learn the way an excellent surgeon learns - practicing what has been learned through purposeful activities rather than merely from instructions. Our sessions are pragmatic; learning’s are doable. We have a large clientele even outside India.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

BOSS Syndrome

I read this article by Vidhi Ahuja and liked it a lot. Thought I must share it with all visitors to this site.

Vivek Hattangadi

Are you at risk of BOSS? - Author Vidhi Ahuja

When Tanisha Malhotra joined her first job at a Gurgaon-based call center eight months ago, she happily distributed sweets in the neighbourhood. Today one of her neighbours remarks, "She was a bubbly, cheerful girl; now she has no inclination to talk, and she looks completely exhausted when she returns from work."

This is perhaps how BPO life looks like to most people. What they're talking of actually is called the BOSS syndrome in BPO jargon.

What does BOSS stand for?

BOSS stands for Burn-Out Stress Syndrome.

The BOSS syndrome is seen very commonly among young people working in call centers. The symptoms include chronic fatigue, insomnia and complete alteration of the 24-hour biological rhythm of the body. Gastrointestinal problems are inevitable for those working at nights as the body is put under chronic stress. A potentially fatal increase in heart rhythm can result severe chronic gynecological problems in women and sleep disorders in both men and women and could even lead cardiac related problems also.

Stress can be compared to weight gain - you don't notice it creeping up on you. Which is why most employees who work 12-plus hours before computer terminals, don't begin to notice the side-effects of doing so (especially in the night shift) except when the body begins to show physical signs.

While a major part of the stress that employees go through is dependent on the change in the body's biological clock by 24 hours, it can also be attributed to other pressures of working in a BPO set up. Some of these are an increased level of competition, peer-pressure and performance-related bonuses. Added to this is the lack of social and family interactions (and hence a support system) due to the reverse time schedules (everyone comes home when a BPO employee leaves for work).

As a consequence of this, BPOs have of course felt the attrition pinch, but employees on their part have possibly had it worst, with productivity levels falling, personal well-being at a risk and quality of work dipping. Earning a fat salary at the very beginning of their career, also makes some of them lose interest in their work, with a feeling of "been-there-done-that". In their quest for that "perfect job", some of them even change 2-3 jobs a year. Nervous disorders like memory loss, incorrect judgements, lack of concentration and falling asleep at the workstation, also come up often when erratic sleep patterns and burn outs at work are mentioned to employees.

Bharat Nanda, a team leader with a leading BPO firm, manages a team of 15. He finds absenteeism due to health issues, to be a common thing in his team.

Prashant Joshi, employed with an MNC's ITeS operations observes, "Most people are not aware that they are facing stress. The daily routine is to get up in the afternoon, eat, go to work, go home in the morning, sleep and so on. There is no physical exercise, the snacks at work are not always healthy, people drink a lot of tea and coffee, which kills the appetite, a lot of people smoke and clubbing is plentiful on the weekends to release the stress." He notices a lot of his colleagues taking allopathic drugs aplenty, to cure minor illnesses like colds, viral infections etc. and an increase in habits like smoking. However, he personally practices pranayam and yoga everyday to keep himself fit and feels that youngsters should do the same to relieve themselves of stress to ensure general well-being.

Nutritionists recommend changing one's food habits and eating healthy to avoid health problems. One should eat more of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, rather than greasy snacks and bread-based foods in between breaks. Tea and coffee must certainly be cut down to avoid acidity. Taking short breaks/walks during the night shift is also useful. Exercise or yoga before you begin the shift, will keep you energetic. And of course drinking a lot of water, will wash out toxins regularly.
While some companies continue to "make up for the hazards" by loading more perks and benefits on their employees, the youngsters on their part hope to break the monotony and stress and work by partying hard. However, various BPOs have started taking some serious pro-active steps, instead of losing employees due to mental or physical disorders. Companies are trying to counter it by providing the staff with various perks for the night- shift, extra support from staff etc. Night-shift workers, whose work is mainly administrative and repetitive, also have special outings planned for them and fun activities organised by CFO (Chief Fun Officer) to break the monotony. However, no matter how much "fun" is brought in, the basic nature of the work doesn't change, nor do the hours connected with it, giving the companies a tough time where motivation is concerned, even as the employees try to cope with new health-related issues.

Also, if some companies have brought in doctors and counselors to help their employees, so others are looking at gyms and treadmills at work, to help employees keep fit, and yet others are carefully monitoring the food provided to their employees. However, at the end of the day, the burn-out faced by the employee is something that both companies and individuals have to collectively fight as BPOs keep attracting employees with the money and more and more youngsters are going to get lured into it, only to quit when they begin to face the stress. It’s a vicious cycle! But BOSS isn’t a problem that one can’t get rid of, a little precaution taken by the BPO employees as well as employers can be very helpful in avoiding such complex stressful situations.

Vidhi Ahuja



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