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Understanding Outsourcing © Bhumika Ghimire

CHAPTER 6:

Social Impact of outsourcing

Outsourcing of jobs, looking from American perspective, has brought along many social changes and raised many issues. From job security, health care cost, social security to long-term effect on the economy. Social effects of outsourcing is being seen even in the host countries, for example in India young graduates are earning in one year what their fathers took 5 years to earn, women are getting more opportunities and cities are getting international exposure.

Looking at its effects in American society, two issues are most important. One is the question of job security and the other is its effect on social structure. Americans are now so worried about their jobs being shipped off that the issue had prominent place in the last Presidential election and is featured in local political debates too. The media has added to the public fear by picturing emerging nations like China and India, as job pirates looking to grab any available American job. Politicians, instead of rationally analyzing the benefits and disadvantages of outsourcing and explaining it to the public, are using the public fear to further their political agenda. As result middle class America, the largest demographic, sees outsourcing as a villain. More and more companies are under pressure to provide job security and refrain from outsourcing. With low and mid-level jobs in Technology and manufacturing sector being outsourced, the workforce is forced to seek jobs elsewhere, in most cases with pay cut. This means less purchasing power, in turn slowing down economy. Although it may take some time for the country so see the effects in economy, some areas like Detroit are already seeing it.

As for host nation, the issues raised by outsourcing are totally different. Racist attacks on call center workers, disturbed social life of workers because of odd working hours, disenchantment with local culture and life style are the effects felt in countries like China, India, and Philippines.

I had a chance to interview a call center worker from India, his name and companyís name is not disclosed. Transcript of the interview is at the end of this text. I hope that it will help us to understand how a person working in a call center views outsourcing, his view of America and draw back of working in a call center.

1) Here in USA we hear about call center workers being abused by callers from USA. They call them bad name and are nasty. Have u faced this kind of situation..? If yes then how did u handle it and how did it made u feel about Americans in general? Also did the bad behavior from American callers made u have a bad image of America..? If an employee complaints of bad behavior from callers how does the management handle it? Are the employees provided counseling..?

Certainly. Daily an agent would get at least one or two calls where the customer gets abusive. In such situations the agents ask the customer to refrain from profanity or else he might hang up. This does not always work out as the customer may still b abusive and since the calls are all recorded the agent simply cannot hang-up on the customer and he has to request him at least twice. This does make the agent feel bad and it might affect the agentís productivity. However a tenured agent (someone whoís been in the process for over 6 months) can handle these situations smartly. However the new joiners find it pretty tough to deal with and it is for these agents that we have counseling sessions either immediately or after the shift. In such cases the Team leader also takes over the call from the agent. This is called as an escalation. Americans in general are quite patient and can wait for hours before they finally get to speak to a live human as the wait times are generally high especially in Tech support. Initially agents do feel let down and depressed because of such incidents but eventually they do overcome. However one such call can ruin the day for an agent irrespective of him being tenured or a fresher.

2) If given a chance will u work in America for Americans..? Please give reasons for your answer.

This is a very subjective question. The pay packet in call centers is more compared to other jobs in the market. Likewise if you look at growth opportunities offered in the US market certainly the prospect of working in America is very appealing. Just a few bad American customers cannot scare Indian job seekers away from the $$$$$$.

3) Do u feel detached from social life because of odd working hours at the call center..?

This is the biggest drawback of being associated with this industry. You do not get sufficient time for social life. Though you work only for 5 days a week yet the 2 odd days that you get for yourself are simply not sufficient to take care of the recreation or other domestic commitments. Thatís one reason why you find a pretty young crowd at call centers.

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