BPO firms told: Emphasis on family values, educ can tame attrition

By Tom Noda

Instead of engaging in a salary fight with rival firms, players in the Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) industry should focus instead on “education” and “family values” for their employees to stay and remain loyal.

Jose Mari Mercado, president and CEO of IBPAP, (left) emphasizes a point during a briefing with the media. With him is IBPAP senior executive Gigi Virata

“For me, education can be an important retention factor,” said Elaine Kunkle, general manager of German firm Henkel Asia Pacific Service Center, a company involved in laundry and home care, beauty, and adhesive technologies.

Kunkle said addressing attrition issues may vary according to a company’s location depending on what matters most to employees. “It’s all about understanding what’s important and it can be based on culture,” Kunkle said.

Kunkle explained that education can be a better retention strategy for IT-BPM companies since it has become a culture for Filipinos to put high priority on education.

Joey Gurango, president of the Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA), said “family” can be an important factor as well, besides increasing workers’ salaries.

Gurango noted that giving high regard to family is also a strong culture of Filipinos. He said it is something that companies can practice by promoting values that teaches employees to treat a corporation as a family.

Studies showed that besides salary issues, attrition problems also stem from overnight and shifting schedules, stress, and finding some of the jobs as too technical.

Jose Mari Mercado, president and CEO of the Information Technology-Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), reiterated that they are tapping the rich source of talent available in the countryside, particularly the top ten provinces in the 2013 Next Wave Cities (NWC) list.

The government, along with the IT-BPM industry, has recently embarked on a NWC roadshow that started in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. The exhibit will travel to Naga, Baguio, Tacloban, Butuan, Puerto Princessa, Cagayan De Oro, Tarlac, Iloilo and Rizal.

NWC began in 2009 as a joint effort by IBPAP (formerly BPAP), the Commission of Information and Communications Technology (now DOST-ICTO), and the Department of Trade and Industry. The goal is to find the best locations for IT and outsourcing outside Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.

According to IBPAP senior executive Gigi Virata, the IT-BPM industry now employs 200,000 workers in the provinces and the target is to increase this to 500,000 by 2016.

To date, the industry is estimated to employ around 650,000 and the aim is to reach 1.3 million by 2016 and revenues of up to $25 billion.

Virata said the IT-BPM’s expansion in the province is significant, noting that Metro Manila produces 70 percent of the country’s university graduates but 75 percent of them live in the provinces.

Mercado said IBPAP is set to meet with the leading figures in the IT-BPM industry at the 5th International Outsourcing Summit (IOS) on October 6–8, at the Makati Shangri-La hotel.

The 5th annual IOS, with the theme, “Unlocking Possibilities, Creating New Vistas,” will feature plenary and breakout sessions that will provide insights on emerging opportunities and challenges in the IT-BPM industry.

Representatives from flourishing economies and niche players in Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa, among others, have been invited to present their success stories and ways forward for their respective sectors.

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