High attrition, managing the ambitious brat pack and even office romance. Now add another nightmare to the burgeoning list of BPO HR managers’ woes: Dual enrollment.
Cashing in on the employee-friendly policies of the BPO industry, a large number of freshly minted graduates call in sick just a few days after joining duty, avail medical leave and join a rival BPO while continuing on the payroll of the previous employer. This means that while he actually works for one, he draws salary from both BPOs at the end of the month. That’s not all. The person, at times, is seen pitching one BPO against the other.
Little wonder then, the industry is alarmed and is figuring out ways to curb the malaise. “We have seen such instances where people go on medical leave during the training period and then we discover they have joined another company,” says 24/7 Customer chief people officer S Nagarajan. “To curb this, we have enrolled ourselves with Nasscom’s national skills registry (NSR) and are getting more stringent background checks done.”
It is important for BPO as such deviant employees could pose data security threat as well. “We have come across several instances where people join another BPO during training periods. We are taking adequate measures like stronger background screening to check this practice,” confirms HCL BPO chief executive N Ranjit.
According to industry estimates, two out of every 10 employees indulge in such practices. However, such dual employment hurts BPOs in more than one way. “The employees who resort to such practices also play one company against the other,” says ABC Consultants CEO Shiv Aggarwal. “Industry players along with Nasscom are taking on the defaulters.”
All this has raised concern about IP theft by such employees. A person working on one account can share critical IP data with other accounts as well. But generally such phenomenon is limited to non-serious candidates, who are just keen on making a fast buck and moving on.
To curb the menace, Nasscom’s NSR has created a universal employee database for the industry. “We have 1,25,000 people registered with us now and we hope to touch the 0.5-million mark this year. The NSR would not only streamline the recruitment process, but also deal with problems like fake CVs and fudged employment details,” says Nasscom Vice President Ameet Nivsarkar.
On the other hand, HR managers in BPOs have also wisened up. If an employee’s leave period exceeds beyond 15 days, his salary is immediately put on hold. In many cases, the companies have a provision to debit the salary from the employees’ account, if its already credited.
“Apart from background checks, we now have a clause in employment contract that if the new recruit quits after the training, he is liable to pay the firm the cost of training,” said Genpact HR VP Piyush Mehta. It’s mostly college students who are seen resorting to dual employment during their 2-3 months of college vacation. Students planning to go overseas for further studies are also seen resorting to dual/triple employment while they wait to get their visa applications processed.
Interestingly, such is the desperation due to the high attrition that many BPOs who do discover that the employee has joined another BPO, are willing to take them back. This is because the firms have spent large amounts on their training. Moreover, hunting for a fresh talent would cost more money.