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BPO Industry Salary Survey 2015: Ops & Support Salary Bands

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Status has been operating in Cape Town for the last 40 years. So, over this time we’ve seen some long-term trends and changes in the local contact-centre sector and the labour market. 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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Note, we kept all our survey questions for salaries to a monthly Basic salary only, not CTC. This is reflected in all the salary numbers stated in our survey’s findings.

We’d like to share some of the key findings from our industry salary & benefits survey (2015) with you now.

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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Note, all Rand amounts indicated in the findings below represent the employee’s Basic monthly salary (before tax), not the CTC.

Also, note, the salary bands indicated in the graphs below indicate the average highest amount paid per job-function across all survey-participants’ collated data; the lowest amount on the same bar in each graph indicates the average lowest salary amount.

In our survey graphs below, you’ll observe a wide range in the salary bands per job-function. This is correct and it reflects industry trends that we comment on in the course of this article.

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These represent the operations staff salary bands, from Agent-level up through to Ops Manager.

For the agent salary band in this graph, we’ve taken the consolidated highest/lowest salary averages for all types of agent functions (i.e. sales, customer-service, & collections) and across all types of contact-centres (i.e. BPOs, Captives, Domestic, International, & Sectors – such as retail, financial services, etc).

[For a more detailed analysis of Agent-level salary bands by function and by contact-centre type, have a look at the additional findings in our related business intelligence article: Agent job-functions at BPOs Vs Captives.]

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Team Leaders: We’d like to draw your attention to the team leader salary band, with the lowest end of their salary band at R10,667.00 per month and the highest at R23,000.00.

This disparity in team leader salaries represents the disparity of team leaders’ experience, skills and competencies in the Cape Town labour market.

Most large corporates (BPOs or captives) will find that team leaders earning R10,667.00 don’t come close to meeting their competency requirements, when hiring external candidates.

Traditionally, the team leader salary amount quoted to new offshore investors/operations (landing in Cape Town) is R15,000.00. However, our experience is that this is fast becoming inaccurate, especially when the operation needs team leaders with strong hard and soft skills as well as good business/management acumen. In order to be assured of attract top talent in the local labour market for team leaders, a salary of between R18,000.00 to R22,000.00 is necessary to be competitive in the local ‘war for talent’.

Graduation Bay Lead: this is a relatively new job-function and skills-set in the local contact-centre market. Its definition and nature vary somewhat from organisation to organisation. Mostly, it’s someone responsible for new agents as they transition from on-boarding training to their full ‘go-live’ on the operations floor. This is facilitated in a ‘graduation bay’ (or ‘agent-creche’). The role is a combination of a coach and a team leader. The intention of the graduation bay is to increase the speed-to-productivity of new agents, while reducing the stress of the transition for them and therefore reducing their attrition rate too.

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You’ll notice that for these job-functions the salary bands are far narrower than for any other skills-sets that we surveyed, other than for the Payroll Administrator. This is both because of the sophisticated competencies required of these job-functions and the availability in the local labour market.

When it comes to Analysts, our experience of the local labour market is that people with either the experience and/or the qualifications have high salary expectations (this is true even graduates in this subject, when entering their first job). This is in part because people with strong competencies and qualifications in this skills-set are in short supply and demand is high for them (including the demand from other sectors, like Financial Services and Logistics). The upper salary band for these job-functions is even more pertinent for qualified and experienced BBBEE candidates in this job-function. Occasionally, employers do find people with natural aptitude for this work in amongst their agents or support staff, but this is quite rare and not a safe strategy for the consistently successful hiring for these job-functions.

In Cape Town, there is a scarcity of experienced Workforce Managers available in the labour market. This impacts the salary expectations of these employees/candidates. The industry body is working on addressing this skills-pool in Cape Town (& South Africa), but this will take several years to improve the supply for and therefore ‘deflate’ the salary trends for this particular skills-set.

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For many years, HR in the local BPO sector has been a relatively transactional skills-set, both at the HRC level and that of HRM. This is starting to change in Cape Town, with some very skilled and competent HR practitioners adding value through high-level strategic and operational interventions in their organisations (and thereby benefitting the wider industry too).

The lower end of the HRC and HRM salary bands reflect very junior/inexperienced/unqualified employees being given the opportunity to enter HR and grow in the role (often promoted from Agent-level, with a diploma or similar HR qualification).

The upper end of the HRC and HRM salary bands reflect the salary expectations of experienced practitioners and/or highly qualified graduates. Increasingly, large BPO operations are seeking top HR talent in the market, often from outside the BPO sector, due to recognition of the strategic (& bottom-line) value HR can deliver in matters of staff engagement, productivity, and retention/attrition.

The narrow (and relatively low) salary band for Payroll Administrators reflects both the availability of this mature skills-set and the relatively transactional nature of the work.

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By ‘In-house Recruitment’, we are referring to an organisation’s own HR/Recruitment team.

This team can be responsible for recruitment at an agent-level, as well as for specialist support or management hires. Most BPO and captive in-house recruiters have a ‘multi-channel’ sourcing approach, meaning they source their own candidates directly as well as work with service-providers, like staffing agencies.

In the BPO sector, employment practice and salary bands for in-house Recruitment teams are very similar to those of HR (see above). Often, the recruiters are agents who have been promoted (or they are recruiters hired directly from a recruitment agency).

This reflects a common organisational underestimation of the high technical competence required in the 21st C for both the sourcing and assessing candidates, as well as the value of high-quality recruitment for the organisation.

Industry is slowly adjusting it’s view and practice on this front, but only insofar as they are starting to look for highly competent Recruitment Managers (though not recruitment consultants) – whether from inside or from outside the BPO sector. The challenge here is that there are very few HRMs or Recruitment Managers in Cape Town or South Africa who have a strong strategic and technical comprehension of the changing talent acquisition landscape, especially in regard to the digital aspect (namely devices, content and channels/platforms). Business is adapting far slower than the consumer market (AKA: the labour market), so as a result business getting left behind in talent acquisition and talent management.

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Most BPOs and Captives employ training teams to conduct their own in-house training programmes, especially at agent-level – where they get the efficiencies of scale. Increasingly, they provide their own team leader training programmes too. For highly technical support skills, management and leadership skills they often outsource these to private providers or tertiary educational institutions. (Most run QA in-house, with QA Agents often being ‘promoted’ from the Tele-Agents in-house workforce.)

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During the last several years in Cape Town, a number of the large BPOs have looked at combining the Training & QA under a senior manager responsible for both departments: a Training & QA Manager. The intention of this is to develop the systems to feed real-time QA analysis into the organisational L&D interventions. Apart from the system complexity of making this work, the other challenge has been finding suitably senior managers with both training and QA competencies – they tend to have either one or the other. However, the local BPO sector is evolving fast in the maturity and sophistication in their L&D programmes and practices, which bodes well for the industry as a whole.

If you’d like to find out more about L&D trends and best practices in the BPO sector, then watch our YOUTUBE VIDEO of Jannie Malan presenting the findings from IQ Business’ BPO Industry L&D Survey at one of our industry HR & Ops Exec Forum events.

If you’d like to see the insights from a Job-Function Competency Matrix Survey that BPESA conducted for the South African BPO & Captive Contact-Centre Industry, then go to their Skills Portal and look at the Competency Profiles pages.

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The BPO & Captive Contact-Centre industry in Cape Town has been growing rapidly for the last several years.

This includes the entrance into the local market of leading multinational operators, like WNS, EXL, Capita, and Amazon. And they’ve brought with them their extensive IP and resources.

As a result, the local industry is in a fast evolving transition period – growing in sophistication and maturity, as well as moving up the value-chain.

This has placed pressure on the demands for the local talent pool, as well as the expectations of the standards for job-function competence. Some of our talent in the local labour market are highly skilled and in high demand, which their salary expectations reflect; while others don’t reflect the growing skill and competence levels required, so their salary bands are lagging. As a consequence, the industry is seeing a widening pay-gap between employees providing the same job-function (well, the same job-function in title only, perhaps), which is aggravating salary inflation for the top talent across all job-functions.

The greatest pressure point (or bottleneck) for where demand exceeds supply is in the specialist support skills and management functions, which is natural in an emerging economy. But, the impact that these roles have can be very significant: where one person’s productivity level in a specialist support or management function has a proportionally greater impact on the success of the organisation – as opposed to say an individual agent’s impact, proportionally.

The need to address the depth of the industry’s talent pool is being addressed by BPESA, with the support of key industry operators, including for team leaders, management and specialist support staff.

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In our next Article on our Industry Salary & Benefits Survey (2015), we look at industry pratcice for Agent Benefits.

And in our previous Article on our Industry Salary & Benefits Survey (2015), we looked 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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