To Test or Not to Test: A Dilemma in Indian BPO Firms*



Case Code : CLHR024
Publication date : 2009
Subject : HROB
Industry : -
Length : 02 Pages
Price : Rs. 100

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Key words:

BPO, stress, burn out, India, alcoholism, substance abuse, workplace, HIV, HIV testing, alcohol testing, peer pressure, BPO culture, lifestyle, monitoring, discrimination, attrition rate


* This caselet is intended for use only in class discussions.
** More comprehensive case studies are priced at Rs.200 to Rs.700 (US $5 to US $16) per copy.


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Indian BPOs were facing a peculiar problem. Alcoholism, substance abuse and promiscuity had become a part of the "BPO culture" and lifestyle. Organizations intended to curb such behavior with alcohol testing and HIV testing measures. Would this policy lead to discrimination, experts wondered.


It has been widely reported that the very nature of work at BPOs has resulted in employee burnout and other stress-related disorders. The problem was compounded in countries such as India, where employees had to work in night shifts as these BPOs catered to overseas clients.

Working continuously in such shifts, handling stressful transactions with clients, led to mental and physical exhaustion. In addition to workplace stress, the personal habits and undisciplined lifestyle of some employees further compounded their problems.

A combination of factors including monotonous but stressful work, and good starting salary at an early age, pushed some employees toward high risk behavior such as alcoholism, substance abuse and promiscuity...

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