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PROJECT REPORT ON

STRESS MANAGEMENT IN BPOS


SUBMITTED BY:
NIDHI UPADHYAYA
ROLL NO: 75
T.Y.BMS
V SEMESTER

M.L. DAHANUKAR COLLEGE OF COMMERCE


VILE PARLE (East), MUMBAI 400057
SUBMITTED TO:
UNIVERSITY OF MUMBAI
ACADAMIC YEAR: 2008-09
UNDER THE GUIDANCE OF
PROF. SAVINA BHATT

CERTIFICATE

I,
THAT

HEREBY CERTIFY
OF

M.L. DAHANUKAR COLLEGE OF COMMERCE OF


T.Y.B.M.S. (SEMESTER V) HAS COMPLETED PROJECT
ON

DURING THE ACADEMIC

YEAR 2008-200 INFORMATION SUBMITTED IS TRUE


AND ORIGINAL TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE.

SIGNATURE OF
PROJECT GUIDE

SIGNATURE OF
THE PRINCIPAL

DECLARATION

I,

OF

M.L DAHANUKAR COLLEGE OF COMMERCE OF


T.Y.B.M.S (SEMESTER V) HEREBY DECLARE THAT I
HAVE COMPLETED PROJECT ON
IN THE ACADEMIC YEAR
2008-2009. THE INFORMATION SUBMITTED IS TRUE
AND ORIGINAL TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE.

SIGNATURE OF THE STUDENT

Acknowledgment
During the perseverance of this project I was supported by
different people, whose names if not mentioned would be
inconsiderate on my part.
I would like to extend my sincere gratitude and
appreciation to Prof. Savina Bhatt, who initiated me into the study
of stress management in BPOs
It has indeed been a great experience working under her
during the course of the project for her valuable advice and
guidance provided throughout this project.
Lastly, I shall thank my family and friends, who have
directly or indirectly supported me in the completion of this
project

Stress Management in BPOs

INDEX
No.

Topic

1)

Introduction

2)

Theories of stress

3)

Stressors

4)

Stress & Distress cycle

5)

Sources of stress

6)

Causes of stress

7)

Types of stress

8)

Effects of stress

9)

Strategies for coping with stress

10)

Business process outsourcing (BPO)

11)

Stress in BPO

12)

Product of stress

13)

Burnout

14)

Health problem faced by BPO employees

15)

Other Human issues

16)

Approaches to stress management

Stress Management in BPOs

Introduction:

Stress Management in BPOs

In this fast paced global world, human being is surrounded by numerous


tensions and various competitors. To survive in this complex world one has
to put his whole and sole effort to earn his livelihood. For this he has to do
millions of work which causes STRESS.

Definition:

The word 'Stress' is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as "a state of affair
involving demand on physical or mental energy". A condition or
circumstance (not always adverse), which can disturb the normal
physiological and psychological functioning of an individual. In medical
parlance 'stress' is defined as a perturbation of the body's homeostasis. This
demand on mind-body occurs when it tries to cope with incessant changes
in life. A 'stress' condition seems 'relative' in nature. Extreme stress
conditions, psychologists say, are detrimental to human health but in
moderation stress is normal and, in many cases, proves useful. Stress,
nonetheless, is synonymous with negative conditions. Today, with the rapid

Stress Management in BPOs

diversification of human activity, we come face to face with numerous


causes of stress and the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

What is Stress?
Stress is your body's way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be
caused by both good and bad experiences. When people feel stressed by
something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing chemicals
into the blood. These chemicals give people more energy and strength,
which can be a good thing if their stress is caused by physical danger. But
this can also be a bad thing, if their stress is in response to something
emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength.

Theories of Stress:
Biological Theories of Stress
1) Somatic-weakness theory
2) Specific-reaction theory

Psychological Theories of Stress


1) Psychoanalytic theory
2) Cognitive and behavioral theory

Stress Management in BPOs

Biological Theories of Stress:


These theories explain psychological disorders in terms of specific
weakness or hyperactivity of an individual organic system as and when she
or he responds to a stressful experience. The Stress is explained as a
responds either the lack or abundance requisite quantum of bio-chemical
material.

1) Somatic-weakness Theory:
The fundamental assumption of somatic-weakness theory is that weak
bodily organs are pre-disposed to generate a specific kind of stress, leading
to a particular physiological disorder. A particular organ system may remain
weak in view of several factors vis--vis genetic deficiency, undetected
childish illness or diet imbalance deficiency etc. these factors may
cumulatively disrupt a particular organ system making it weak and weak to
stress e.g., severe ulcers might be generated owing to a weak digestive
system, which ulcers in their true may lead to serious stressful events and
consequent psychological disorders.

2) Specific-reaction Theory:

Stress Management in BPOs

According to specific-reaction theory, no hard and fast explanation can be


categorically branded as the prime mover or shaker of stress. Different
individuals respond to stress differently and every organic system has its
own idiosyncrasies way to cope up with on going situational pressures. This
theory maintains that the body system that is the most responsive may most
likely become the locus of a particular psycho-physiological disorder e.g.,
high blood-pressure may be more amenable to hypertension.

Psychological Theories of Stress


These theories explain the development of various psycho-physiological
disorders in terms of such factors as: unconscious emotional states,
personality traits, cognitive appraisal and specific styles of coping with
stress.

1) Psychoanalytic theory:
Psychoanalytic theories explaining the development of stress undermine the
role of conscious-emotional states specific to each disorder. According to
Alexander (1950) various psycho-physiological disorders can be explained
as a function of our unconscious emotional states.
Alexander has further argued that repressed hostile impulses invariably lead
to chronic emotional states. Such states, in turn, are responsible for
hypertension, anxieties and worries and depression. "The damming up of
such hostile impulses if continues might develop stronger defensive
measures in order to keep pent-up aggression in check-because of the

Stress Management in BPOs

marked degree of their inhibition. These patients are less effective in their
occupational activities and for that reason tend to fail in competition
and.hostile feeling towards more successful, less inhibited, competitors
are further intensified"
Alexander's hypothesis of unexpressed anger or anger-in theory was
formulated on his first hand observations of patients undergoing
psychoanalysis.

2) Cognitive and behavioral theory:


Cognitive and behavioral theories explained stress as a function of cognitive
and behavioral factors. The perceptions and experiences stimulate
sympathetic system activity. However, psychological resentments and
regrets are too embedded to be easily tossed out of one's system. They are
not as readily escapable as are the perceived or real external threats. Nor
can they be readily explained away, often they keep our sympathetic system
aroused. Such an encouragement keeps the body in a continuous state of
emergency. It is unbearable to sustain a balanced behavioral pattern for long
in such circumstances. The necessary balancing of sympathetic and
parasympathetic action are so gets tougher by the day. More often that not,
the equilibrium is lost and one is overtaken by distress. Such a bodily
changes that can last longer that they were meant to. This further
contributes to an imbalance between sympathetic and parasympathetic
activity going on in our system. Some psychologists have assumed that
man's higher mental faculties out-compete his physiological endowments.

Stress Management in BPOs

This is the inbuilt dichotomy operating in human's even though, very subtly
and silently. Moral, valuation or attitudinal changes may be experienced at
very higher or deeper levels of consciousness and our bodies may not be
attuned to such experiences easily and readily. In fact, it is pointed out that
our bodies are not designed to cope up with the outgoing pressures of our
higher mental faculties. They are not built to hold up the storms brought
about by our mental capacities. Thus, life-experience of human beings
seems continuously to be exceeding their resources or capacities to cope
with them. Such a dichotomous state of affair is inherently germane to the
fructification of chronic stresses and conducive to the development of
psycho-physiological disorder. Therefore, most humans are prone to this or
that kind of stress-related disorder.

Stressors:
Almost any change in the environmenteven a pleasant change, such as a
vacation- demands some coping; and a little stress is useful in helping us
adapt.

Stress Management in BPOs

Stress Management in BPOs

STRESS CYCLES

Where
stress
come s
from

Change Stressors
Chemical Stressors
Commuting Stressors
Decision Stressors

Disease Stressors
Emotional Stressors
Environmental Stressors
Family Stressors

Phobic Stress
Physical Stress
Social Stress
Work Stress

Pain Stressors

Stress Overloading

Immediate
effects

Long term
effects

Over all costs

Behavioral (e.g.
over eating and
excessive
alcohol
consumption

Behavioral
disorders (e.g.
obesity and
alcoholism)

Physiological (e.g.
heightened muscle
tension, elevated
blood pressure and
rapid heart beat)

Emotional (e.g.
heightened
anxiety,
depression and
anger)

Cognitive (e.g.
increased
distraction and
decreased
concentration

Medical disorders
(e.g. headaches,
hypertension and
heart disease)

Emotional
disorders e.g.
chronic anxiety
and depression,
phobias,
personality
changes mental
illness)

Cognitive
disorders (e.g.
many problems,
obsessive thoughts
and sleep
disorder).

Decreased Productivity

Decreased Enjoyment
Decreased Intimacy

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Stress Management in BPOs

DISTRESS CYCLES

Where
stress
comes from

Change Stressors
Chemical Stressors
Commuting Stressors
Decision Stressors

Disease Stressors
Emotional Stressors
Environmental Stressors
Family Stressors
Pain Stressors

Phobic Stress
Physical Stress
Social Stress
Work Stress

Stress Overloading

Immediate
effects

Long term
effects

Behavioral
(e.g. over
eating and
excessive
alcohol
consumption

Behavioral
disorders (e.g.
obesity and
alcoholism)

Over all costs

Physiological
(e.g. heightened
muscle tension,
elevated blood
pressure and
rapid heart beat)

Emotional (e.g.
heightened
anxiety,
depression and
anger)

Cognitive (e.g.
increased
distraction and
decreased
concentration

Medical
disorders (e.g.
headaches,
hypertension and
heart disease)

Emotional
disorders e.g.
chronic anxiety
and depression,
phobias,
personality
changes mental
illness)

Cognitive
disorders (e.g.
many problems,
obsessive
thoughts and
sleep disorder).

Decreased Productivity
Decreased Enjoyment
Decreased Intimacy

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Stress Management in BPOs

Sources of Stress:
Stress is unavoidable and has become an inherent part of human life. It
arises as a result of the imbalance between the demands placed on an
individual and his/her capacity to meet those demands. For instance, if the
demands are way below his/her capacity, then the individual may feel bored
and disinterested. on the other hand, if demands are way above his/her
capacity, then the individual may feel overwhelmed and thus feel the
pressure. One way to handle such a situation is find a balance between the
demands and capacities. An individual must, therefore, try to reduce
demands from the environment and simultaneously increase his/her internal
capacity. To achieve this balance people must identify the sources of stress.
There are various sources of stress both at home and at work. The common
ones can be classified into internal and external stress.

Internal Stress:
Human beings have a tendency to worry about actions that may or may not
take place. Internal stress generally happens when individuals worry about
things outside their control. The personality of an individual plays a vital
role in stress management. Every individual can be categorized into Type A
and Type B personalities. An individual of Type A personality has a
continual sense of urgency and has an excessive competitive drive. He/she
is always in a hurry and is impatient. People with Type A personality are
fixated about winning and do not have the ability to spend leisure time
productively. These people are likely to be under stress even in minor
situations. People with Type B personality never sense the urgency of time.

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Stress Management in BPOs

They work at their own pace, with no need to prove their achievements.
These people are less likely to be under stress. Studies suggest that people
with Type A personality are at greater risk of getting heart attacks than
people with Type B personality.

External Stress:
This type of stress is the result of environmental influence on an individual.
External stress is a result of stress from the environment. This can be stress
from family, work, peers, and friends. Physical conditions such as poor
lighting, loud noise, poor seating arrangements, and extreme workplace
temperatures (a too hot or too cold cabin) are also stressors. Even the
climate where one resides can be a significant contributor to ones stress
level. In particular, living in extreme climates can heighten an individuals
stress level. Temperature extremes and the amount of sunshine that exists on
a daily, weekly, or monthly basis can affect the level of stress experienced.

Causes of Stress:
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Stress Management in BPOs

Many different things can cause stress -- from physical (such as fear of
something dangerous) to emotional (such as worry over your family or job.)
Identifying what may be causing you stress is often the first step in learning
how to better deal with your stress. Some of the most common sources of
stress are:
Survival Stress
You may have heard the phrase "fight or flight" before. This is a common
response to danger in all people and animals. When you are afraid that
someone or something may physically hurt you, your body naturally
responds with a burst of energy so that you will be better able to survive the
dangerous situation (fight) or escape it all together (flight). This is survival
stress.
Internal Stress
Have you ever caught yourself worrying about things you can do nothing
about or worrying for no reason at all? This is internal stress and it is one of
the most important kinds of stress to understand and manage. Internal stress
is when people make themselves stressed. This often happens when we
worry about things we can't control or put ourselves in situations we know
will cause us stress. Some people become addicted to the kind of hurried,
tense, lifestyle that results from being under stress. They even look for
stressful situations and feel stress about things that aren't stressful.
Environmental Stress

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This is a response to things around you that cause stress, such as noise,
crowding, and pressure from work or family. Identifying these
environmental stresses and learning to avoid them or deal with them will
help lower your stress level.
Fatigue and Overwork

This kind of stress builds up over a long time and can take a hard toll on our
body. It can be caused by working too much or too hard at job, school, or
home. It can also be caused by not knowing how to manage time well or
how to take time out for rest and relaxation. This can be one of the hardest
kinds of stress to avoid because many people feel this is out of their control.

Types of Stress:

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Types of stress that are personal and work related are discussed below,
1) Personal stress:
This is extra-organizational stress. Individuals play many roles in life like
that of a father, brother, friend or mother, wife, sister, etc. In this process,
various factors cause stress.
2) Family stress:

Family stress may arise from conflict of ideas or relationships with wife,
children, siblings, parents. This stress may also be caused by the ill-health
of a family member, financial problems, a divorce, or the death of a dear
one.
3) Health related stress:
This may be a result of undetected or neglected health problems. For
example, a person may neglect minor ill health, which over a period may
develop into a serious health problem that may require immediate attention.

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Often people ignore health and give importance to work. This results in loss
of health and in stress.
4) Society related stress:
Society related stress occurs due to the influence of the society on an
individual. Here friends, colleagues, and neighbors are the influencing
factors. For example attending a community meeting after a long workday
may seem very stressful.
5) Work-related stress:
This is organizational stress. Work-related stress relates to the working
environment and policies of the organization. Work related stress can be
further classified into organizational stress and job stress.
a) Organizational stress:
The stress resulting from the conflict of organizational goals with personal
goals is called organizational or work place stress.
Delegation of authority and responsibility: For instance, an
employee may be given many responsibilities without sufficient
authority. This would result in stress in performing the duties and
responsibilities.
Long work hours: Everyone has a natural body clock. Working
against this clock can create stress. Attempts to alter the body clock

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result in stress. Studies on BPOS executives show clearly the toll


long work hours take in terms of stress-related illness. A person
regularly working long hours without taking a break will be stressed.
Job Insecurity: Job insecurity is a major stress factor. This kind of
insecurity and lack of growth or promotions act as stressors. The
higher the uncertainty, higher is the stress. A sudden change in
management and work policies can also result in stress. For instance,
a manager who has not been promoted for a long period may feel
insecure about his/her future prospects in the organization and feel
stressed.
b) Job stress:
Stress that occurs due to lack of resources or scarce resources at the
workplace is called job stress. Some of the common job stressors are:
Difficult clients/ Subordinates/ Superiors/ Colleagues: Every
employee has to handle a difficult client at some point of time. A
difficult or dissatisfied client is a stress creator. Uncooperative
colleagues and subordinates too can build up high stress levels at the
workplace. Superiors often feel that putting pressure on subordinates
brings out the best in them, but this is not always true. Some
employees feel overwhelmed under stress and cannot work
efficiently.

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Stress Management in BPOs

Personal Inadequacy: This can be a lack of knowledge or skills to


handle a particular task or job. This can create stress.
Role conflicts: This is a conflict between a persons likes, values, and
job requirements. For instance, a manager may have to take a
decision regarding firing a subordinate keeping the organizations
interest in mind even though he/she may like the subordinates work.
This creates a conflict between his/her likes and job responsibilities,
resulting in stress.
Setting high goals: Setting high goals for oneself is a major stressor.
For example, a sales manager may fix some high sales target for
himself/herself in a month. Not achieving the target may result in
stress and in extreme cases may even lead to depression.
Overwork and deadlines: Extended periods of work or continuous
work can lead to extreme stress situations. Employees, especially
those in the BPO industry are required to work in shifts that result in
irregular rest hours that create stress. Strict deadlines and rigid plans
create stress in employees.

6) Time and Stress:

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Stress is a result of doing things at the wrong times. It is a result of


mismanaging time and striving hard to stick to deadlines. By developing the
art of time management, people can reduce stress. Effective time
management and stress management are inter-dependent. Time management
includes planning, delegating, organizing, and performing tasks as per
schedule. Working against deadlines can start to create stress in a persons
life over a period of time. Stress management deals indirectly with time
management, as time management is a measure to keep stress under control.

Effects of Stress:

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The human bodys reaction to stress is natural. It results from the need to
resist a stressful situation. For example, when a person is nervous, there is
an increase in his/her pulse rate. This is a fight or flight response.
However, things can go out of control if too much stress is present. The
person can have a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. Too much of stress
can tell upon a persons health. If neglected, it can lead to serious health
disorders at a later stage. Stress has both physical and psychological effects
on an individual.

1) Effects of Stress on an Individual:


1) Physical Effects:
Increased heart rate and blood pressure
Sudden increase or decrease in weight (change in appetite)
Frequent headaches, fatigue, and respiratory problems
Nervous weakness (biting nails, too much sweating)
Sleeplessness
Reduced immunity to common colds and flu
Ulcers and weak digestive system

2) Psychological Effects:

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Stress Management in BPOs

Difficulty in concentrating
Unable to spend leisure time productively
Always anxious
Bad decision making
Mood swings
Increased usage of food, cigarettes, alcohol and drugs
Developing fears and phobias
Feeling out of control and confused

2) Effects on Environment:
Stress affects not only the individual but also his/her environment. It has an
affect on the individuals family, work, and society.

3) Effect of stress on family:


A stressed individual can play disaster with family life. He/she may spoil in
self-destructive behavior, which will have an influence on family members.
He/she may become absent-minded, neglect duties, and overlook health
problems. Stress can thus affect the family if left unchecked.

4) Effect of stress on work:


Stress mainly affects an individuals work-life. Absenteeism could be a
major problem due to stress. Employees under stress do not feel motivated
to work, and so they absent themselves regularly. Frequent absenteeism
affects the organization. Workplace accidents and conflicts are other major

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Stress Management in BPOs

effects of stress. Employees under stress have less concentration and this
could lead to accidents. The more stressed a person is the more likely he/she
is of getting into conflicts. Conflicts can lead to a turbulent work
environment and affect the organization as a whole. Stress can also be
related to occupation. For instance, a person working for long hours on the
computer may get computer vision. A person working in a noisy work
environment may develop hearing disorders.

5) Effect on society:
Stress has an effect on society as well. It makes people feel isolated,
irritated, and unfriendly. This affects the interpersonal relations of the
person.

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Stress Management in BPOs

Strategies for Coping with Stress:


After understanding the sources of stress and the effects of stress on
individuals, let us discuss some strategies to fight stress,
1) Prioritize work:
Multi-tasking is the buzzword these days. An individual requires special
skills to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. One way to minimize stress
while multi-tasking is to plan, prioritize, and perform. Planning involves
preparing a list of activities that need to be performed. This involves
considering the time factor. Prioritizing involves ranking the activities based
on their importance and performing these activities in that order. Prioritizing
activities each day is the simplest way to tackle stress. The next step is to
schedule time for tasks depending on the priorities. For instance, a person
may have to attend a community meeting and an official party. He/she may
schedule time for both activities by attending the official party first and then
the community meeting.
2) Delegate work:
Some individuals prefer doing all the work themselves. This adds to their
stress. They should learn to delegate routine work to others. For instance, a
manager can delegate the work of preparing a report on a project to a
subordinate.

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Stress Management in BPOs

3) Laughter:

Laughter is a good de-stressor. An individual can relax and de-stress by


watching a humorous movie, reading comics, etc. A sense of humor allows
an individual to perceive and appreciate the imbalances of life and provides
moments of delight.
A day without laughter is a day wasted for life. This is very true. Laughter
is the best outlet for stress. It is a great stress buster. Laughter is a no cost,
no side effect medicine. A person with a sense of humor is less likely to be
under stress. A sense of humor allows an individual to perceive and
appreciate the imbalances of life and provides moments of delight.
4) Exercise:
Exercise is another good stress-buster. It keeps an individual physically and
mentally alert. When a person is nervous, tense, or angry, exercise is the
best outlet for giving vents to his/her emotions. Regular exercise lowers
blood pressure, lowers pulse rate, boosts blood circulation in the body,
increases artery suppleness, lowers cholesterol, and reduces fatigue and
tension. These benefits help an individual to tackle the physiological

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Stress Management in BPOs

changes that occur during stress. Exercise should increase blood circulation
to the heart.
5) Relaxation:
The best strategy to reduce stress is to relax. Relaxation is not being idle. It
is doing what one wants to do, rather than what one should do. It is very
important for a person to schedule some time for relaxation. This relaxation
time should disconnect the person from all his/her tensions, worries. This is
the time when the person rebuilds his/her energy levels. Relaxation
techniques vary from person to person.
6) Diet:
A good balanced diet plays a vital role in reducing stress. A person tends to
neglect diet when under stress. This may lead to overeating or under-eating.
This improper eating results in a weak immune system and creates health
problems. A well-balanced meal that is eaten on time is very important to
minimize stress.
7) Sleep:
Sleep is a weapon. During sleep, a person prepares himself/herself to face
another day. Stress makes a person sleepless or very sleepy. A stressed
person may feel sleepy throughout the day and awake during nights. On an
average, everyone needs at least 7-8 hours of sleep per day. Some may need
more sleep or some less. After a good nights sleep, a person feels fresh. An
individual must adopt a bedtime routine that induces sleep like reading a

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book that is soothing, and listening to music that is relaxing. One must go to
bed at the same time every day.
8) Meditation:
Meditation is one of the most effective techniques in reducing and avoiding
stress. Regular meditation helps in stress reduction. It enables one to control
the thought process enables one to take effective decisions helps in physical
and mental relaxation Improves concentration Meditation is a technique to
achieve a thoughtless or mindless state. In this state, a person has no
thoughts. This kind of state thus acts a stress reliever and a great
rejuvenator.
9) Yoga:

Yoga is another important stress reliever. Yoga has been tried and tested
since ancient times. According to Patanjali Maharishi, yoga is the cessation
of mind. It is a state of no-mind. Yoga is not for bodybuilding. It simply
focuses on gentle postures that improve circulation of blood to vital parts of

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Stress Management in BPOs

the body. The increase in blood circulation rejuvenates the organs and
releases stress.
10) Maintaining work-life balance:
Work-life balance means a harmonious balance of work and domestic life. It
allows an employee to fulfill all the roles in his/her life effectively and
efficiently. Researches have proved that employees are at their best when
they are contented and motivated both at work and at home.
Achieving a work-life balance is not as easy as it seems. In the corporate
world, change is constant and imminent. The impact of globalization has
further fuelled these changes. The corporate world signifies uncertainties,
too many responsibilities, and long work hours. These changes in the
environment disturb the balance between domestic and work-life of
employees. The increasing competition and demands of society further
aggravate the situation. All this adds up to stress.

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Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)

Business process outsourcing (BPO) contains the transmission of processes


along with the associated operational activities and responsibilities, to a
third party with at least a guaranteed equal service level and where the
client contains a firm grip over the (activities of the) vendor for mutual long
term success. BPO is positively related to the search for more efficient
organizational designs: cost reduction, productivity growth and innovative
capabilities. Hence, a source for strategic advantage.
Traditionally, BPO is undertaken by manufacturing firms. For instance Coca
Cola, where almost the entire supply chain is outsourced and the company
is essentially becoming a marketing organization. However, BPO is
nowadays rapidly conquering the service oriented firms as well. A wellknown example is provided by the Bank of America, who outsourced their
entire HR function to Exult, one of the leading Human Resources BPO
vendors.

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BPO is often divided into two categories:


Back office outsourcing, which includes internal business, functions such
as billing or purchasing,
Front office outsourcing, which includes customer-related services such as
marketing or tech support. The endless opportunities IT provides, stimulates
(cross-border) BPO activities.
BPO that is contracted outside a company's own country is sometimes
called offshore outsourcing. BPO that is contracted to a company's
neighboring country is sometimes called near shore outsourcing.

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Stress Management in BPOs

Stress in BPOs:

Today world is moving towards its progress at a very fast rate. The size of
the industry from textile to I.T is growing at an alarming however this
industry today adopts capital-incentive modern technology to give required
quality and quantity output. Today in order to survive in the throat-cutting
world of competition, use of these techniques has become the need of time.
Due to the use of the capital intensive technology the number of
employment opportunities available in the production field has decreased.
However in order to get competitive edge over other competitors, the
company today concentrates on improving their quality of work and service
to customers. This has given rise to BPOs. This either supports the
production and distribution process or provided service to customers.
There are two types of BPO or call center, domestic and international
BPO. The domestic BPO deals with the work of clients within India,
whereas in the international BPO works for the client located in the foreign
countries. We today have number of BPOs both domestic and international

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Stress Management in BPOs

in India. These type of BPO attracts large number of youngsters by paying


them handsome salary along with fringe benefits like car facility etc. we do
perceive BPOs as the easiest way to earn money but we are not aware of
the work culture and timings of the BPOs . The employees working in the
domestic BPOs have to face comparatively less stress then the one working
in international BPO.
The main reason of this is that international BPOs work largely
during the night to coincide with the day hours of the country. This is
supported by the fact that one third of the employees working in BPOs face
stress due to frequent change in their work shifts.
So now let study in detail what are the reason or factors that are
responsible to give different types of stress to the employees working in the
BPOs. It is the factors, which make the employees working in international
BPOs more stressed than the employees working in any other BPOs.

Nature of work:
The nature of work is the main cause of job stress. The workday of the BPO
is designed for 8 to 9 hours a day. Most of the BPOs employees in
Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore are spending at least 1 hour travel up or
down to get on work every day. So the BPOs employee has to spend 11
hours a day on work. Some BPO encourages its employee to work over
time if the work load is more or work is very important. So some time
employee may have to work for long 13 to 14 hours a day, In International
BPOs operational heads my trend to put 16 to 18 hours on regular basis to

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Stress Management in BPOs

stay back for customer conference call from us and other foreign countries.
Working for long hours may lead to job stress.

Workload:

The primary source of stress reported lies in the inherent nature of the
job. BPOs executives spend hours on the phone; deal with people on a
continuous basis, day after day, and work under constant pressure to deliver
quality service along with volumes on calls. They do not have the liberty to
get off the phone and often have no time to recover from an uncomfortable
call or customer rejection.

Insufficient Holidays:
Lack of sufficient holidays has emerged as the most critical
contributor to high stress levels at Indian BPOs. While BPOs work 24x7,
executives work 12-14 hour shifts on an average: mostly at US or UK
shifts. Going by the Indian Standard Time, people work nights. Staying up
nights for days, weeks and months together adds not just too physical stress

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Stress Management in BPOs

levels but to the psychological stress levels as well. In addition, BPO


executives are required to work on all other public holidays and during
festivals.

No job security:
Today no BPO employee is given permanent job in any company.
According to the companys law if the employee work for more the 240
days in any BPO then he is entitle to get all benefits of permanent
employee. So these BPOs give breaks to the employees after completing
240 days and call them back after a short or long break. Most of the
employees themselves leave the BPO job because of the job stress and
emotional stress.

Change in lifestyle and Habits:


After appointment of any employee for all BPO job, training is given to
him. This training includes personality development programmers way up
training programmers and stress management programmers etc. This help to
develop the personality of the employee. Besides this the handsome salary
and other fringe benefits improves the standard of living of the employee.
But simultaneously the chances of getting addicted to habits like smoking,
drinking, liquor, and drugs also increase. Due to overload of work etc.
These in terms affect the personal life of an employee and may lead to
personal and family stress.

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Stress Management in BPOs

Lack of career development opportunity:


During the training programmers the assent and voice training is given to
the employee. Besides this a BPO employee learns how to interact with the
customer and clients. His communication skill do develop after working in
BPO but besides this the BPO employee has no better opportunity to
develop his career, as he has to repeat the same process taught to him at the
time of training. So there is less scope for career development in BPO job.
Lack of career development opportunity leads to job stress. It also affects
the personal life of the employee and therefore may sometimes become
personal stressor.

Irate customers:
It is BPO employee who has to directly interact with customers and
clients. The team leaders and the other seniors do not directly interact with
customers therefore very few of them actually get burnt. The job of BPO
employee is to deal and interact with clients and the customers. Most
customers call when they have a problem. Often they are further irritated by
long call queues. In such cases the customers get irritated and remove their
frustration on BPO employee. So irritation of the customers again increases
the stress of BPO employees.

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Stress Management in BPOs

Products of Stress:
Stress can be either temporary or long term either mild or serve. The
effects on an employee depend mostly on how long its causes continue, how
powerful they are and how strong the employees recovery powers are. If
the stress is temporary and mild, most people can handle it or at least
recover from its effects rather quickly. The inflated salaries that BPO
employees enjoy dont come without paying a price. Spondylitis,
backaches, soreness and dryness of eyes, blurred vision and headache is
some of the serious illness that they tend to complaint about.

In BPOs there are different teams. Each


team is given different target to achieve. Each team has the team leader who
monitors, control and guides the employees in the team. These team leaders
are more susceptible to stress since they put more long hours then regular
employees. Further irregular eating habits and the tendency to binge when

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Stress Management in BPOs

stressed, due to constant performance monitoring gives rise to digestive


problems.

Burnout:

In contrast to temporary stress there are some major pressures that result in
stress that is sustained for long periods. Problems predictable arise when
high intensity stress continues for an extended duration. The human body
cannot instantly rebuild its ability to cope with stress once it is depleted. As
a result, people combat it. This condition is called burn out- a situation in
which employees are emotionally exhausted, become detached from their
clients and their work and feel that they are able to accomplish their goals.

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Stress Management in BPOs

Symptoms of burn out:


When employees become burned out, they are more likely to complain to
attribute their errors to others and to be highly irritable. The tendency to
think negatively increases. The employee gets emotionally exhausted and
feels that they are weak and so are unable to accomplish their goals.
Aggression:

Aggression is one of the common reactions to stress. Whenever employees


are stress they are likely to become aggressive. When the work load is more
and if the employee fails to reach the desire d target they are likely to
become frustrated. They become more irritable; develop an uneasy feeling
in stomach etc. Whenever the BPO employee gets aggressive it affects his
voice tone and the ability to interact with the customer and clients. There

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Stress Management in BPOs

are possibilities whereas the employee may become aggressive in dealing in


even small issues.
Stress damages the positive framework of mind that is required for
high quality work by promoting negative thinking, damaging self
confidence, narrowing attention, disrupting focus and concentration and
making it difficult to cope with distractions, anxiety, frustration and temper.
This is the energy that should be devoted to work.
Tired Physical Energy:
Extended stress can be physically draining, causing feel tired much of the
time, or no longer have the energy you once did. Getting out of bed to face
another day of the same gets more difficult.
Emotional Exhaustion:
You feel impatient, moody, inexplicably sad, or just get frustrated more
easily than you normally would. He/She feel like He/She cant deal with life
as easily as once could.
Lowered Immunity to Illness:
When stress levels are high for a extended amount of time, immune system
does suffer. People who are suffering from burnout usually get the message
from their body that something needs to change, and that message comes in
the form of increases weakness to colds, the flu, and other minor illnesses.

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Stress Management in BPOs

Less Investment in Interpersonal Relationships:


Withdrawing somewhat from interpersonal relationships is another possible
sign of burnout. They may feel like they have less to give, or less interest in
having fun, or just less patience with people. But for whatever reason,
people experiencing burnout can usually see the effects in their
relationships.
Increasing negative emotions:
Occasional feelings of frustration, anger, depression, dissatisfaction, and
anxiety are normal parts of living and working. But people caught in the
burnout cycle usually experience these negative emotions more often until
they become chronic. In the worst cases, people complain of a kind of
emotional fatigue or depletion. While no two people respond in exactly the
same way, people tend to experience frustration first that may evolve into
anger.
Feelings of Meaninglessness:
Most people want more from their jobs than a pay check. Virtually everyone
wants to do something meaningful - to come home from work feeling that
what they did that day on the job served an important purpose. Unfortunately
for the burnout victim, working can become meaningless, as they question if
working accomplishes anything important. Enthusiasm is replaced by
cynicism. Working seems pointless.

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Stress Management in BPOs

Health problems faced by BPO Employees:


1) Sleeping Disorders:

Sleeping Disorders sickness afflicting people working in Indian BPOs.


Since this is a unique Indian problem, again, no solution appears in sight.
Obviously this affects first timers more severely, as they take time to adjust
their biological clocks, but even experienced people or managers are not
able to completely escape from it.
2) Digestive System Related Disorders:
Working long and odd hours without any sleep, and eating food supplied by
external caterers everyday, has led to 41.9% of the respondents suffering
from digestive problems. Especially for the large number of girls working in
the industry, the problem is even more severe.

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Stress Management in BPOs

3) Depression:
In survey disorders has climbed up the chart, affecting nearly one-fourth of
the respondents. Not surprising, since, as the industry matures, the initial
glitz and glamour wears away and the real problems come to the fore. Not
only are there several health related issues, but, on top of that, the gradual
realization that there is limited scope in developing a career owing to fewer
growth opportunities is increasing the frustration levels. Coupled with
growing mental fatigue and increasingly punishing physical environments,
depression is the obvious end result. Some BPOs have now devised
different stress management programs mainly to counter depression.
4) Severe Stomach Related Problems:
Continuing digestive problems lead to severe stomach disorders like
gastroenteritis, as endorsed by more than 24% of the respondents. Even
doctors in major cities agree-in recent times many of the patients with
Various stomach ailments are from BPOs.
5) Eyesight Problems:
Globally BPO industry employees are considered a high-risk group for eyerelated problems. While the quality of monitors might impact these
disorders, sitting continually without adequate breaks seems to be the truer
reason. The number of people affected seems to be on the rise-last year only

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Stress Management in BPOs

19% complained; this year it has gone up to 23%. At some point of time,
this problem might also afflict the IT services industry, but for the BPO
industry
6) Ear Problems:
More than 16% of the respondents inform that they have hearing problems.
Again, no surprises here, since a BPO job involves taking calls throughout
the shift, sitting with headphones. While quality of headphones does make a
difference, it would not be correct to completely wish the problem away by
thinking that changing headphones will solve it.
The BPO employees ranked high for attrition due to health reason:
For sleeping disorder - 83%
Voice loss

- 39.5%

Ear problem

- 8.5%

Digestive disorders

- 14.9%

Eyesight problems

- 10.6%

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Stress Management in BPOs

Some other Human Issues, in BPOs, which need Immediate Attention.


In spite of Health issues, there are many issues which can be affect the
productivity and quality of organisation.
Personal habits:
The young executives are getting more than five figure salaries per month
in an early age. They tend to develop certain bad habits such as alcohol,
smoking etc. It is not easy to identify such individuals. It is also very
sensitive to talk to them.

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Stress Management in BPOs

Solution
The professional counselors can conduct group-counseling, workshops,
educative film shows in order to create awareness on effects of bad habits.
Such actions will enable individuals to realize the importance of good habits
and they could seek one to one counseling sessions to solve their problems.

Discipline and behavioral issues:


BPOS

provide

excellent

working

environment,

free

food

and

transportation. There is always a situation where individual or group of


youngsters tend to commit mistakes and abuse the freedom. They start
behaving like in college campus where they have more freedom. However,
the BPOS executives have more responsibility and accountability, they
need to follow discipline and do well in the job. The most common behavior
is misuse of food, behave erratically in vans, and smoke in public places,
misuse of telephones and other resources of the company. The supervisors
always concentrate on performance and achieving targets. They do not have
time or interest to go deep into these matters and find out the reasons for
such behavior.

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Stress Management in BPOs

Majority of Employees think like that, this is the first employment and they
are fresh out of the colleges. Few tend to behave differently and they have
the "do not care" attitude. Such executives will not take their job seriously,
they indulge in teasing, and joking, talking over mobile phones, have
friction within the team. These aspects may go noticed or unnoticed by the
supervisors.
The fact remains that such unacceptable behaviors will cause disturbance to
others and overall it affects the productivity. Sleeping while on duty, reading
novels and playing games on the computer during working hours brings
down productivity and quality suffers.
Solution
The professional counselor can play a major role in educating the
youngsters on discipline; provide advice to erring executives. The
counselors with their wisdom and experience can tackle such issues
tactfully and bring change within the individuals.
The HR representatives and professional counselors jointly have a role to
bring behavioral change starting from the training days. Continuous
education and Counseling will help to mitigate such problems and it is
Possible to prevent serious problems.
Inter-personal relationship and friendship:
Executives develop friendship quickly and sometime the friendship breaks
and there will be misunderstanding among the team members and naturally
affects the team performance. When the relationship fails the individuals
will also break down mentally. They either absent for duties or fall ill or the

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Stress Management in BPOs

performance will come down. It is also true that due to misunderstanding


and break in friendship they change jobs quickly. Healthy relationship
among the team members has always helped the team to out perform.
Solution
The supervisors and counselors can play a major role to sort out the
interpersonal relationship and develop team spirit.
Love affair and marriages:
Few of the boys and girls fall in love quickly. They maintain the healthy
relationship, behave in a matured manner, plan the future course of action
and such persons have got married with the consent of their parents. They
work together in the same organization for longer duration. There are
instances, where lovers fall apart, start disliking, creating troubles to each
other and vitiating the atmosphere. They are immature, take instant
decisions to break or unite and sometimes go to an extent of damaging
others reputation.
Solution
The professional counselors can play an important role in explaining the
importance of marriage, preparation required for marriage, how to enter the
institution of marriage, which is acceptable to both parents and society and
about the new role and responsibility after getting married. Counseling
services can definitely give emotional support to individuals.
Absenteeism:

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Stress Management in BPOs

Absenteeism is very high in calls centers. Employees tend to be very


irregular to the duty due to various reasons. The professional counseling
services to such irregular employees on one to one basis will help to bring
down the absenteeism.
Solution
The counselor can educate and explain the importance of attending duties to
earn the salary and also to meet the organizational goals. Each individual
are unique and the problem they face are also different in nature. Only the
professional counselors can understand, analyze and provide long lasting
Solutions for the individuals.

Part time jobs:


Organizations do not grant permission to pursue part time jobs while
working in BPO units. In order to make quick money and to have options
open to change the jobs in future will drive the employees to do part time
work. Human body does not permit to stretch beyond one's capacity. The
executives need to take sufficient rest in the daytime so that energy levels
are maintained. Either due to lack of experience or due to compulsions, the
executives keep their one feet in BPOS and another in part time jobs. In the
long run this would affect individuals health.
Solution

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Stress Management in BPOs

The HR executives must identify such persons and offer professional


Counseling services to them.

Approaches to stress management:


Stress is a factor that everybody has to content with both in the work and
non-work spheres of life. It is important for every individual to manage the
stress, since the body has only a limited capacity to respond to stress. There
are several ways in which stress can be handled effectively that is,
relaxation, meditation, physical exercise and engaging in sports activities,
etc. In addition to this, there is technique known as Managing work-tohome transitions which is also helpful in combating stress. This strategy
emphasizes that it would be beneficial to psychologically shift attention

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Stress Management in BPOs

from stressful work situation to relaxed evening at home in the family


environment as one reaches the end of the working day. This is instead of
carrying the pressure of the work to the home the suggestion is to finish the
courses of the work during the last working hour and enter the home in
relaxed and peaceful frame of life.
Both Domestic and International BPOs are highly concerned about stress
and its effects. In the attempt to manage the stress they have two broad
opinions preventing and coping with stress. BPO can seek to improve
communication skills, empower employees to through participation,
redesign jobs to be more fulfilling or implement calcite development
programs. These steps are aimed at reducing or eliminating stressors for
employees several approaches also exist for coping with stress. Often
involve cooperative efforts among employees and management and may
include social support, relaxation efforts, biofeedback and personal
wellness.
1) Social support:
BPO employees put in long 9 hours in the work and that too sometimes
against the biological clock as a result they are detached from the world
around them, they lack warm interpersonal relationship individuals with
driving ambition and strong need for independence may fail to develop
close attachments to friends and colleagues. To achieve their success, they
often sacrifice fulfillment of their social need. Their lack of social
attachments may result in anger, anxiety and loneliness all producing stress
in their lives.

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Stress Management in BPOs

A powerful antidote to this problem lies in the presence of social support at


work. Social support is the network of helpful activities, interaction and
relationship that provide an employee with the satisfaction of important
needs. BPOs also celebrate various events like food festival like special
day like traditional day, black and white day. They also encourage, develop
and nature their social support network at work by arranging picnics ,get
together function at parties and regular interval to reduce in their lives.
2) Relaxation:

Relaxation some employees turn to various means of mental Relaxation to


adjust to the stresses in their lives for that purposes many BPOs held
counseling secessions at regular intervals. Basically these counseling
secessions are held once or twice a week, where as the counselor interacts
with the employees to understand their mental and physical state at work
there by he also suggest necessary exercise for mental relaxation and
physical relaxation. Many BPO conduct physical fitness programmed
exercise

classes

and

progressive

relaxation

programmers.

Such

programmers help employees to learn how to relaxation learn the


techniques to control dishonesty like anxiety, headache, backaches and
hypertension. Physical relaxation is pleasant ant tents to live the individual
with the sense of refreshment.

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Stress Management in BPOs

Relaxation

also

involves

meditation.

Meditation

involves

concentration on inner thought in order to rest the body physically and


emotionally. It helps to remove employees temporarily from the stress full
world and reduce their symptoms of stress.
Some of the easiest way of meditation is as follows:
i) Focus on breathing:
Concentrating on breaths in and out, counting breaths and visualizing
images of the number changing with reach breath.
ii) Focus on object:
Looking at the immense detail of the object for entire meditation.
Examining the shape, colors difference, texture, temperature, and
movements of the object.

3) Imagery training:
The work life of BPO employee is hectic further the long hours of work and
irate customers and to the stress.
Thoughts about the problems keep on spinning in minds, one idea
lead to another and soon the employee turned down in a frazzle. For a BPO
employee mental relaxation is equally important as physical relaxation.
Imagery training helps to reduce and control mental anxiety. In Imagery
training, training is given to the employees to visualize pleasant images in
mind. Visualizing the successful dreams helps to produce a state of calm.

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Stress Management in BPOs

Practicing imagery regularly helps to control upsetting thoughts and enjoys


a deep state of physical relaxation.
4) Biofeedback:
The word Bio refers to leaving organisms. Feed means to give or in this
case display. Back refers to the direction in which this information is
provided. Thus Biofeedback is simply a term for modern technology of
measuring a persons internal (bio) response and giving the person
immediate knowledge (feedback) about that response.
Earlier it was thought that people could not control their involuntary
nervous system which in turn controls internal processes such as heart beat,
oxygen consumption, stomach acid flow etc. However today employee
under medical guidance learns from instrumental feedback to influence
symptoms of stress, such as increased heart rate or severe headaches. Many
BPOs have in-house doctors on

call who give feedback to the

employees regarding their health whenever require. Further many BPO


have their dietician to plan out the diet of the employees as per their work
schedule.
5) Employee appreciation program/incentives/contest:
BPO keeps on introducing various incentives and contest to encourage its
employees to give a better performance. This contest not only encourages
its employee but also increases the confidence and competition among the
employees. Various employee appreciation programmers are held in BPOs
on small or larger basis. Small meeting or party appreciates some times the

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Stress Management in BPOs

work of the employee or group during the break time or otherwise special
party is arranged to appreciate to work employees.
Employees get a sense of satisfaction through appreciation
programmed as they feel that their efforts are recognize by the employer
and are paid off regular.
6) Personal Wellness:
Many BPO have there own wellness centers. This wellness center includes
fitness centers health education programmers and in-house court or indoor
games. Many BPO have there own health care specialist and dietician who
recommend practices to encourage changes in life style such as breathing
regulation muscle relaxation, positive imagery, nutrition management and
exercise embalming employee to use more of their full potential.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Organizational Behavior- Stephen Robbins
ICFA- Effective communication skill book
Stress Management- Edwaed.A.Charlesworth and Ronald G.
Nathan
www.google.com

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