Are you working in an Abusive Workplace?

Not very long ago, at a ‘reputed international tech support’ call center near the Delhi/National Capital Region in India, I was shocked to see the work-culture there. What I saw there is nothing but a reflection of similar conditions that exist in many ‘international’ call-centers/BPOs in the country. There are exceptions when major MNCs hire employees to work for their off-shored contact centers but not so in local companies.

For a young job-seeker, it can be a mixed experience. The initial joy of getting a job at an international call-center (or BPO) soon turns into a nightmare – they need to first get accustomed to working night-shifts, travel long distances to work, work in cramped ‘pigeon-hole’ cubicles on old desktops that (more often than not) run pirated versions of Windows. Even sitting at their desks can be a real challenge as the chairs are often broken and way too low and beyond any hope of repair.

Providing remote technical support to customers in the US and other parts of the world is a lucrative business. There are vendors who provide a pre-defined number of calls to the BPO client. Once the call hits the client, the sales team takes over and actually sells ‘tech support’. Most of the time, it is the elderly customers who fall for the sales talk, often shelling out hundred of dollars for something that could have been fixed for free or for a fraction of that amount with some level of research. Sales teams have drawn and continue to draw a lot of criticism for their tactics but they do only what they are told to do and to earn their living. That however, does not justify what they do.

The tech support agents are an abused and bullied lot. From the time they step in to the office and until they leave, they are abused by their leads and seniors – and that includes even people at the level of Directors, VP and above. In fact, verbal and psychological abuse is considered OK if it can actually get them even a couple of more sales! Irrespective of whether you are a technical support person or a sales person, your job is to get the required number of sales – else, you get hauled up  in front of everyone, abused, insulted and arbitrarily fired from your job. “Get out” is all it takes for anyone to fire their employees. Reasons – some real and some cooked up. There is no process of verification, coaching, performance improvement, incentives!

Many times, customers complain that they feel they are talking to people in a ‘cattle pen’ – there is so much of background noise and shouting and yelling. It is in this environment, that these people work – their challenge is to sound professional, hear and understand what the customer is telling them and actually solve their problem! They get barely 10 seconds between each call and there is a Workforce Management team that is constantly yelling at them to wind up their calls faster! And all this, working on an average of 14 to 16 hour every day, including their week offs.

If you are one of those people working in this kind of environment – our recommendation to you is simple – quit that job and find yourself a job that provides you a dignified, healthy and safe work environment, respects you as a professional and respects their customers as well. Stay away from companies that only looks for money and ignores the well-being of their employees. Such companies do not deserve you!

If you would like to share your experience working for such an organization, write to us using the form in our ‘Contact Us’ page.