The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stress takes toll on tech toddlers

BPOs may be the surest way to financial freedom for freshers, but the path is paved with pitfalls.

For, the cost of pressure to perform, strict quality norms, irregular work hours and night shifts at times outweighs the benefits.

“Around 70 per cent of BPO employees, in their early and mid-twenties, who come for a check-up suffer from various stress-related disorders,” says Milan Chetri, consultant physician of internal medicine at Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals.

Insomnia, fatigue, disorientation, gastrointestinal problems, back pain and visual disorders are some of the common complaints among BPO employees. According to Chetri, the problems arise due to job-related stress and late-night shifts, affecting normal sleep-cycle and causing hormonal changes, daytime sleepiness and irritability.

“Stress is a big issue, because we are supposed to perform and meet targets constantly. Inability to live up to expectations is a major concern,” says a call centre employee.

The situation is a shade better in high-end, non-voice BPOs, but a majority of companies do not have adequate arrangements or training modules to ensure a healthy work-life for employees.

“If we have a sore throat, we are asked to have a cup of coffee... In Delhi, employees are given massages and sent to yoga workshops,” says a BPO employee, complaining of lack of care.

GenY, iPod-flashing and Coke-sipping, often gets into the BPO lifestyle without realising the potential health hazards.

“The sedentary nature of the job, compounded with wrong choice of food and irregular eating habits, lead to obesity among executives,” points out Sushila Sharangdhar, dietician at Saffola Healthy Heart Foundation.

Doctors also warn that a stressful life and erratic eating habits make BPO workers more prone to cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure.

But BPO companies claim employee problems are treated with care through medical allowance, regular health check-ups and counselling.

“It is an employees’ market… With such high attrition levels, we cannot afford to be negligent about their needs,” argues the head of a BPO firm.

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