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BPO Industry Salary Survey 2015: Benefits, Transport & Shifts

 

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For the last two years, Status has conducted an annual industry salary & benefits survey for the BPO & captive contact-centre sector in Cape Town.

Our local salary survey has been made possible with the participation of local operators, including many leading international brands, as well as top South African brands. We only included data for their Cape Town operations. For example, in our 2015 industry salary survey included the following brands and participants:

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We’d like to share some of the key findings from our industry salary & benefits survey (2015) with you now. In this article, we’ll be focusing on the local industry’s practices in Benefits (medical aid & pensions), Shifts (& shift allowance), Transport, & Career Awareness/Development interventions.

We hope you find the insights in this survey useful for measuring your business’ competitiveness for attracting and retaining top talent in the Cape Town labour market.

But for now, enjoy reading these findings and insights from the Status industry salary & benefits survey, 2015:

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A few brief observations on agent talent attraction, in the context of CTC and benefits:

  • Sometimes, there’s a disconnect between the company’s perception of the value of the CTC package and the agent’s perspective. Many companies want their recruitment team (& by extension their staffing providers) to ‘sell’ the CTC salary package to prospective agent-candidates. And, they do. However, often what the agent is most interested in is their Basic Monthly Salary (AKA: their take-home pay), which is what they prioritize when choosing between competing job offers.
  • This is particularly true of agents between the ages of 18 to 26 years of age. It’s doubly true if they have no dependents and/or live at home still.
  • Sometimes (in fact, often), agents of the age demographic mentioned above view deductions for medical aid and pensions as punitive, not positive – especially, when these benefits are not optional for them.
  • In an age of mass customization, Gen-Y & Millennials prefer products that give them some level of individual choice (or at least feeling of it). This may not be ideal for the company when it comes to benefits and CTC, but it might go some way to making the CTC and benefits seem more attractive to prospective talent and less punitive, as intended by the employer.

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The provision of medical aid, as well as stunning office spaces, for agents is one of the most significant changes in the South African BPO sector in the last 10 years. A decade ago, most contact-centre management thought both medical aid and attractive offices for agents an idealistic fantasy.

BPESA, in their annual industry Key Indicator Report, found consensus across operators in the provision of medical aid to agents. What varies from organisation to organisation is the structure of the medical aid and the company’s contribution.

The positive news for the Cape Town contact-centre sector is that more and more financial services providers are getting creative and competitive in their packages providing for this end of the labour market, which should lead to better coverage at better prices as the years come and pass. In short, it pays for companies to shop around financial service providers for the best package.

Note, common practice in the industry is to provide medical aid for full time (&/or permanent) agents, but not for part-time or temporary employees. Any organisations still adhering to this practice might be advised to consider this continued practice in the light of the new TES Labour Legislation, enacted in 2015, and especially the ‘Equal Pay For Equal Work’ clause.

For more about the new TES Labour Law (& ‘Equal Pay For Equal Work’), have a read of our Navigating The New Labour Law Landscape 2015 or watch our YouTube Video of Michael Bagraim sharing his insights on the new labour law and how it’s being applied in practice by the CCMA & Labour Court.

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This pie-chart graphic above indicates the number of survey-participants who:

  • Provide medical aid for agents: 13 operators;
  • Don’t provide it: 10 operators;
  • Didn’t reply either way: 2 operators.

Therefore, unlike BPESA’s findings (where it found consensus in operations providing medical aid to their agents), we find just under 50% chose not to do so. The trend, however, is moving towards more and more operators providing it than choosing not to.

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The trends for medical aid contribution shadow the trends for the difference between BPOs and Captives agent’s Basic salaries. For more on the differences between BPO and Captives practices on agent’s Basic salary, refer to our other related business intelligence article: Agent job-functions at BPOs Vs Captives.

The trends indicated in our findings, show that Captive operations tend to place great weight on their CTC package and offering a significant contribution to their staff’s medical aid. It should be noted, however, that while Captives place more emphasis on investing their money in medical aid and pensions, BPOs invest far more in the quality of the work environment, especially ‘fun’ things – like chill rooms with games and food, etc. Captives tend not to offer these, with only very few exceptions amongst the local captive operations.

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Interestingly, as seen in the pie-charts above, over half of the survey-participants don’t provide a pension. In the next graph, those that do provide a pension for their agents, you can see the % pension contribution that they make:

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More than in other facets of CTC benefits, international BPO operators are taking a very proactive approach to agent pensions – almost in line with that of the domestic Captives (who are all mostly leading financial services brands, so pensions are aligned to their core business products).

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Nearly all operators, whether captive or BPO or domestic or international, require shift work in their operations.

The next pie-chart graphic displays the shift-patterns that the different types of contact-centre work:

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Note, although the domestic operators run shifts, for the most part these don’t run very late (in comparison to international operators, who service the markets in the UK, USA, Europe and Australia).

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This pie-chart graphic shows operators shift allowance practices or if they ‘pay’ for shift work in another format (like days off in lieu, etc). The participant’s responses seem to indicate quite a varied practice across operators in regard to shift allowance.

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As the international BPO operators increase their campaigns and headcount in Cape Town, thereby requiring more of their agents to work late shifts, there has been a lot of work done around the provision of transport for agents.

Over the years, several international operations have changed from providing minimal or no contribution to the shift-agent’s transport costs to a large contribution or paying for it in full. The reason for this is the rate of agent absenteeism and attrition increases when they have to cover their own transport costs (or arrangements) in after-hours shift work, which impacts the costs and performance of the business.

While BPOs have been proactive in their provision of agent transport solutions, most captives that we interact with in the local marketplace don’t offer this and consider it a ‘non-issue’, which they have no plans to change or address. [Often, when raised, they cite that they offer a strong benefits package and that’s where they prefer to prioritize their money for agents.]

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We added a short section on organisational Career Awareness in our survey. The focus was around the frequency of such interventions and the level at which they happen. Given how often stakeholders and advocates in the BPO sector stress the great career-path potential of the sector, it’s interesting how infrequently interventions are happening – if they are happening at all.

It seems that in the HR space, this is one of the areas of practice that is still relatively immature at an organisational (and industry) level. It’s an area that this industry lags behind some other sectors in terms of the quality and quantity of interventions, both inside and outside the organisation. This will probably change over time as the industry (and especially as HR) matures, though this probably will not happen in the short term.

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In our previous Article on our Industry Salary & Benefits Survey (2015), we look at industry practice for Ops & Support Salary Bands.

And in our other previous Article on our Industry Salary & Benefits Survey (2015), we look at the salary bands for Agent job-functions at BPOs Vs Captives.

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If you’ve enjoyed this article and you’d like to see more about the insights and findings of this survey, then you can watch the video of us present it in full, at an industry event last year (which we recorded & put onto YOUTUBE for you):

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If you or your organisation would like to participate in our upcoming 2016 Industry Salary & Benefits Survey (or if you’d like to find out more about Status), then please get in touch with us.

You can contact us at:

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