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BPS continues to attract offshore investment

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Contributing R50-million to the national GDP and providing employment for approximately 215 000 people, South Africa’s Business Process Services (BPS), previously known as the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, and contact centre industry is one of the country’s main economic drivers. Globally, the rapidly growing BPS sector is expected to account for 4% of global revenues by 2030.
Kay Vittee, chief executive of Quest Staffing Solutions, believes that the vastness of this sector, means that constant research and benchmarking becomes essential in order to not only gauge current industry trends and challenges, but also provide forward thinking insights into possible future trends.
“The 2016 Quest Contact Centre and BPS survey is based on data from reported surveys over the period 2014 to 2016. It includes an aggregation of median salaries across various positions in the South African contact centre and BPS industries – exclusive of benefits and incentives – as well as insights into the local sector,” explains Vittee.
In terms of general BPS and contact centre industry insights, Vittee says that South Africa is currently regarded as a key location when it comes to overall value, cost and risk of these solutions in the EMEA region.
“What makes South Africa particularly attractive is that it has favourable customer oriented legislations such as the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) which requires that companies secure their customers’ information. This provides added peace of mind for offshore operations that are concerned about the security of their customers’ information.
“In addition, the high quality of talent currently available, together with that in the pipeline, means South Africa is a destination of choice when it comes to high-end BPS services such as Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO), Back Office Finance Processing, and other outsourced procurement functions, ” she explains.
Concerning for Vittee however, is the high staff attrition rate currently plaguing the local sector.
“Due to the fact that employees in call centre jobs constantly have to interact with customers, this level of customer interaction often leads to stressful situations which over time results in attrition. The average attrition rate for agents in South Africa is in fact as high as 30,9%.
“Finding ways to minimise staff turnover is therefore one of the biggest challenges facing the sector. Here possible solutions include flexible working options and hours which may be a motivator for employees to stay with a specific company or employer.
“Providing agents with an environment that is conducive to learning is also important. Having the opportunity to learn and grow may lessen the chances of them leaving to pursue other opportunities,” she comments.
And should companies require agents to work night shifts, Vittee says it is essential to ensure that they empower employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance. “Working evening hours can put stress on family life and relationships and it is important to educate staff on ways to cope with the various challenges inherent in shift work.
“Some of the most common factors experienced by night shift workers include loss of appetite, inadequate planning, no social life, no time for family, irregular sleep timings, and losing track of time. Communicating ways to deal with these challenges will go a long way to ensure healthy, happy agents,” she stresses.
When it comes to its 2016 salary benchmark, the survey provides the following general insights and actual salaries as reported by survey respondents:
* The finance / banking sectors pay higher salaries than the BPS sector, In addition, the sector is not shifted and staff work normal hours (8am-5pm).
* Most contact centre staff have a minimum qualification and skills level of Matric, verbal and written communications skills.
* In most cases a minimum of six months experience is required for contact centre staff compared to an average of two years for team managers.
* Permanently employed agents, regardless of their experience, are paid higher salaries than the median reported in Gauteng and the Western Cape. Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) on the other hand is the lowest paying province, with salaries coming in10% lower than the national average.
* Temporarily employed agents, regardless of their experience, are better paid in Gauteng compared to the other provinces. For those with less than one year’s experience, KZN pays the least at 11,23% lower than the national average. However, for agents with more than one year’s experience, KZN salaries are just 0,08% below the national average.
* Permanent agents, regardless of experience, earn more than their temporarily employed counterparts, with those with more than more than one years’ experience earning up to 36,8% more.
* Salaries advertised for agents are more or all less on par with the national average across all provinces. However, there is an indication that actual salaries paid are far less than those advertised.
Further to this, the survey reflects that permanently employed for supervisory and support staff in Gauteng and KZN earn less than the national average regardless of experience. However, those in KZN are the lowest paid staff with less than two years’ experience, earning as much as 29% less than the national average salary.