Ergonomic and occupational therapy solutions to address issues (1)


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Background: Business Process Outsourcing Sector (BPO) sector is one of the fastest growing industrial segments in India. However, the industry is plagued by high attrition rates. Different surveys do indicate musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) and stress related problems by prolonged night shifts and stressful working conditions. To address these issues, there is paucity of information regarding ergonomic design of work place, working conditions, stress and MSD for Indian night shift employees of BPO sector. Secondary data relating the psycho physiological aspects relating to the work is examined to build context for the present study. Research address the issues of impact of violation of circadian rhythm, stressful and anxious work environment, availability of ergonomic work environment design and low job satisfaction of night shift BPO employees.
Methods: Survey data collected in 2011 among the workforce of ten organizations in Chennai is used for this study. The sample study covered 106 employees.
The output of research emphasis need for multi disciplinary approach consisting of ergonomics, occupational therapy and psychology to improve physical and psychological well being of employees to address issues of attrition in BPO industry.

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Ergonomic and occupational therapy solutions to address issues (1)

  1. 1. Ergonomic and Occupational Therapy Solutions to Address Issue of Attrition in BPO Industry   Dr.K.Prabhakar¹, Yeshwanthi T.R² ¹Velammal Engineering College, Management Sciences, Chennai, India. ²Loyola Institute of Business Administration, Chennai, India. HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>BPO is one the fastest growing sectors, creating highest number of jobs in economies across the world. India is a leader with 14.8 billion US dollars market share growing at the rate of 15.4% and providing employment for 1.5 million persons from graduates to doctors, lawyers and engineers. The major Human Resource Challenge is attrition to the tune of 40%. </li></ul><ul><li>The industry is novel with high technological intensity working 24× 7 with continued night shifts provide challenging opportunities for research in inter disciplinary areas of ergonomics and psychophysiology. </li></ul><ul><li>Surveys indicate that employees experience low job satisfaction and health issues ranging from high stress to severe physical illness. ( Dataquest -IDC Employee Satisfaction Survey, 2010). </li></ul>HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  3. 3. Issues Addressed in the Research <ul><li>BPO sector modified traditional way of working and paved way for a 24 hour cycle of work and permanent shift work. </li></ul><ul><li>The shift work violates biological rhythms especially circadian rhythm. It has been clearly linked to a series of acute and chronic effects on the organism, most of them related to the circadian rhythmicity of the body. The major effects concern sleep, physical discomfort, stress, MSD and long –term ill health. </li></ul><ul><li>Reference: HSE (Health, Safety Executive). Psychological risk factors in call centres: an evaluation of work design and well-being, Research Report No. 169, 2004, pp.92. </li></ul>HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  4. 4. Circadian Physiology HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  5. 5. Sleep <ul><li>Disturbed sleep is one of the effects of shift work. A number of survey studies have indicated that night shift employees have difficulties, at maintaining sleep after the night shift . </li></ul><ul><li>This reduction mainly affects different stages of sleep. While generally recommended sleep is eight hours for an adult there is a need to study the day time sleeping hours of night shift employees. </li></ul>HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  6. 6. Musculoskeletal disorders <ul><li>The causes of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) in occupational medicine and its relation to work have attracted wide attention . </li></ul><ul><li>It is considered as a major source of disability and lost work time . </li></ul><ul><li>MSD is the cause for absence from work, and researchers of the present research strongly believe that such issues prevail among BPO employees; It accounted for 40% of the work related health costs worldwide . </li></ul>HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  7. 7. Research Gaps <ul><li>There is paucity of information regarding work environment and frequency of occurrence of critical incidents relating to work environment </li></ul><ul><li>Major critical incidents identified are lack of role clarity, role of immediate supervisor, concentration on job, experience of chronic fatigue and insomnia, irritation and depression. </li></ul><ul><li>There is no data available on provision of ergonomically suggested office equipment. </li></ul><ul><li>Discomfort faced with respect to vision, headaches, digestive disorders and ear problems. </li></ul><ul><li>Attitude towards; tasks, experience of pressure, constant survival and monitoring, loss of personal identity, lack of social support and disruption of family relationships. </li></ul><ul><li>Intensity of pain felt due to musculoskeletal disorders. </li></ul>HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  8. 8. Findings-Demographic and Work Related Physiological Characteristics … <ul><li>Majority of the respondents are men (61.3%) with marital status of unmarried (77.7%). </li></ul><ul><li>The mean age of the respondents is 25.57 years indicating younger workforce. </li></ul><ul><li>The mean working hours spent by the employees is 9.17 hours with median value of 9 hours, indicating that night shift employees of BPO work 1-1.17 hours more than the employees of other sectors. </li></ul><ul><li>Since travel is an integral part of the working, the mean travel and work is computed which amounted to 11.14 hours, with a median value of 11 hours. Therefore, the respondent travels two hours to commute his or her work place indicating long hours spent on travel. </li></ul>HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  9. 9. Findings-Demographic and Work Related Physiological Characteristics … <ul><li>Majority of the employees (61.3%) experience work anxiousness. </li></ul><ul><li>He or she sleeps for an average period of 6.67 hours, with a median value of 6 hours and standard deviation of 1.24 hours. </li></ul><ul><li>The recommended number of hours of sleep is eight hours and the respondents loose 1.33 hours of sleep every day, violating the circadian rhythm. </li></ul><ul><li>This may lead to the psycho physiological issues. </li></ul>HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  10. 10. Findings-Perception Towards Work Environment <ul><li>Twenty five percent of the respondents work in isolation. However another set of 25% work in teams. This indicates that there is a segment of respondents who always work in isolation and in another segment work in teams and there is no commonality of work pattern. </li></ul><ul><li>The conflicting and ambiguous nature of job is experienced by 50% of employees. </li></ul><ul><li>Since the Indian BPOs operate with lowest employee cost 35% compared to that of BPOs across the world, which operate with 65% employee cost ,the employees are expected to do multiple tasks with no clarity of tasks performed. </li></ul><ul><li>25% of the employees perceive that their immediate supervisor is rarely understanding and respecting his subordinates. </li></ul>HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  11. 11. Findings-Perception Towards Work Environment <ul><li>Fifty percent of the employees feel dissatisfied about the job. </li></ul><ul><li>Fifty percent of the respondents experience loss of motivation and commitment due to lack of concentration. </li></ul><ul><li>Twenty five of the respondents constantly feel tired and perceive an increased metabolism. </li></ul><ul><li>Fifty percent of the employees experience disturbed sleep during the day time due to night shifts and fifty percent of the respondents undergo chronic fatigue and insomnia. </li></ul><ul><li>25% of the respondents get irritated and depressed due to criticism of others. The work environment of respondents as described indicates though there are islands of satisfaction and congenial work environment; however large sections of the night shift employees suffer from psycho physiological issues of work environment . </li></ul>HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  12. 12. Findings-Perception Towards Work Environment <ul><li>Fifty percent of the respondents need to be hyper alert for every second of performing job. </li></ul><ul><li>Similarly, 50% of the employees consider job is boring, monotonous and overloaded 25% of the respondents perceive that they are given high work targets. </li></ul><ul><li>Fifty percent of the employees experience pressure in handling difficult and abusive customers. Constant monitoring and surveillance is felt by fifty percent of the employees. </li></ul><ul><li>Fifty percent of the respondents feel job lacks career opportunities and develop unhealthy eating habits. </li></ul><ul><li>50% of the respondents feel their quality of life is not improved and 25% strongly agree that the family relationships are disrupted, 50% feel that their personal identity is lost and social support is lacking from the job. These trends indicate that the job has a negative impact on the social and psychological well being for at least fifty percent of the employees. </li></ul>HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  13. 13. Musculoskeletal Disorders HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  14. 15. HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  15. 16. Conclusion and Recommendations <ul><li>Though it has been argued that the endogenous rhythm cannot be suppressed, appropriate rest periods in between work is suggested. </li></ul><ul><li>The respondents expressed that they have to be highly alert every second of their engagement in the work, causing stress. </li></ul><ul><li>Repetitive nature of the job, lack of career growth, difficult and abusive customers, constant monitoring and surveillance impact the quality of life of employees. </li></ul>HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  16. 17. Conclusion and Recommendations <ul><li>Empowering employees and subjecting lesser supervision is likely to lessen the work anxiousness of the employees. </li></ul><ul><li>Provision of food and coffee for the night shift employees may appear to be an incentive; however it is perceived by employees that he or she has developed unhealthy food habits. </li></ul><ul><li>The social life and support and family life is perceived to be impacted by the pace of work at BPO organizations and there is a strong need for providing time for the employees to participate in social events. </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of work design according to suggested ergonomic recommendations for long time working with computers is not being followed in majority of the organizations and it is strongly recommended for implementation. </li></ul>HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)
  17. 18. Thank you HWWE 2011-IIT(Madras)