Employee attrition is a major issue in the business process outsourcing sector. While there are opportunities aplenty in the market, youngsters are more impatient and want to become managers quickly, said Vardhman Jain, Vice-Chairman, Access Healthcare Services Pvt Ltd. The US-based healthcare BPO company has most of its employees in India, and focuses on Revenue Cycle Management. Employee absenteeism is another major problem for the industry, Jain told BusinessLine in an interview. Edited excerpts:
How worrying is employee attrition?
Gross employee attrition is very high in this industry, and for us it is around 37 per cent. Within attrition, what is it by service is key. For us, attrition in call centres is 48 per cent and non-call centres is 26-28 per cent.
Some call centres have attrition as high as 100 per cent while some have 60 per cent. We would like to benchmark ourselves on service. The most important matrix is leadership attrition, which for us is 2 per cent. The key is whether important people who run the company are staying with the company or not. This is the most important matrix in attrition. If they start leaving, we have a serious problem.
Do youngsters keep moving only for a higher salary?
The average age in the BPO sector is 24-25. Senior managers are getting older while entry-level employees are young. The level of patience among youngsters has declined when compared to 10-15 years ago. Everyone wants to be a manager today itself. A person joins after college at the age of 21-22, and by 23 he is questioning: ‘why am I not a manager?’ We have a career progression plan wherein an employee in 6-7 years can become a senior manager and earn ₹2 lakh a month from a joining salary of ₹15,000. One can even make ₹4-5 lakh but those are one or two jobs. Youngsters don’t want to wait for seven years. They have realised that they can jump around companies and get those high salaries.
For a call centre, the entry-level salary could be as low as ₹18,000 and as high as ₹30,000. For coding, it could be ₹20,000. All our workforce members are graduates. Because of attrition, you continuously bring more people.
Is attrition the only worrying factor in dealing with employees?
Absenteeism is another major issue. Within 6,000 employees, one in 10 is not present at any point of time.
Every month, there is nearly 10 per cent absenteeism in the BPO industry. I don’t know what it is in the manufacturing industry. But, it is a serious issue for us.
What’s your growth since starting the company five years ago?
We have grown from zero to a $67-million company. Next year, we hope to grow by 45-50 per cent with employee headcount increasing by 33-35 per cent. We will grow faster in revenue but won’t add as many employees because of higher productivity of the workforce and doing more value-added and knowledge-based jobs that give more revenue through use of analytical tools. We have taken a lot of historical data and are analysing it to improve productivity and improve customer interaction.
What is your headcount?
Today, we have around 6,000 people in centres at Chennai, Coimbatore, Pune and Manila doing work for nearly 30 customers in the US. We recruit nearly 400 employees a month. We have nearly 3,000 people working for the largest customer, while our smallest customer has one employee working on that account.
How big is the Revenue Cycle Management market?
RCM is a division of the BPO sector. The niche that we are in is about $1 billion within the US and being done offshore. This includes coding, patient follow-up and adjudication from insurance.
Very few Tier-I players focus on our market segment ... they deal with IT infrastructure deals. They do BPO contracts when it is a bundled contract or they are forced to do it.
How many transactions do you do?
We do about 12 million transactions in a year, and process $50 billion in claims annually. We make nearly a million calls a year.