What is the COST of your salary?

During this trip to India I got a better understanding of the booming BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) industry in India. While I can talk at length about this topic, for now, I want to focus only on one aspect – the intensity with which the industry is attracting young talent and some of the consequences thereof.

Let me take an extreme example of a financial services BPO. Here’s a partial day in the life of a BPO employee

A BPO employee walks into the office at the start of his shift and takes his assigned seat. There is a monitor, keyboard and mouse connected toa  computer somewhere in the back. There are also two foot pedals. Work begins. Pressing the left pedal will load the record of a subscriber (or any other record which requires processing.) The employee will process the record – meaning make changes to some of the fields in the record and presses the right pedal. Pressing the right pedal will save or “store” the record. The employee then repeats the process. In simple terms, the process has three steps

1. Press the left pedal (this will load the record)
2. Process the record (make changes to the record)
3. Press the right pedal (this will “store” the record)

I know what you are thinking. They are not inhuman there. Every fifteen minutes or so, the employee has to take a break and do some prescribed exercises for 2 to 3 minutes and come back to work.

As you guessed rightly, to do this job, it does not require a lot of brain power but the pay is good. To give a comparison, a BPO employee may make anywhere from $300 to $600 per month whereas this employee’s classmate may be making only $100 – $150 per month. So, there is a huge temptation among young people to get into a BPO industry and make four times the money that one of their classmates are making out there.

My point is simple – if someone jumps into this career because of the money they get in the short-term, they will pay a huge price in the long-run. BPO is still in its early stages and the complete consequences are not known yet. A few years from now, the initial employees will be in a “stuck” state for good as they can’t do anything other than “robotic” actions in the back office. This is a classic case of getting a big salary in the short term and forgetting that the big salary comes with a huge COST in the long run.

Now that I finished my rant on the BPO industry, let’s talk about your case. Why don’t you honestly answer the question:
 “What is the COST of your salary?”

Special thanks to Satish MM of Verismo Networks for all his insights on the topic.