This firm's work-at-home policy brings people with limited opportunities into workforce. Currently, Hinduja Global solutions has about 500 home agents in Canada, and 150 in the US. It expects to grow its work at home offering by a further 25% by 2018-end.
Hinduja Global Solutions employs 500 “home agents” or people who work from home in Canada or about 20 percent of its Canada headcount here, and 150 in the US. In a world where the way people work is changing, interview with Tim Schuh, President – North America Operations and Global Business Excellence, HGS to understand what it means for the BPO industry.
Q: What is the genesis of the work at home business model at HGS?
A: HGS has employed a limited scope Work at Home servicing model in the United States for many years. Last year, driven by high client demand, we undertook an initiative to refine and enhance our Work at Home model, and significantly expand the size and scope of our Work at Home services.
In March 2017, we launched our enhanced Work at Home capabilities with twin objectives of expanding our employee pool and catering to increase in client demand for our services.
The program gives HGS access to reach out to a wider population across a country that’s geographically large with smaller towns quite a distance away from cities where most employers are based.
There are a lot of highly-skilled, highly-educated people across Canada with limited job opportunities; including people outside major metropolitan areas, employees with disabilities, military spouses or others seeking flexibility and better work-life balance. We are looking to hire them in this virtual model.
Currently, we have a base of 500 home agents in Canada, which is about 20 percent of our headcount here, and 150 in the US. We expect to grow our Work at Home offering by an additional 25 percent by end-2018.
Q: What kind of work experience do people who work at home need?
A: While there are certain profile attributes, including a customer-centric mindset that are the same as a traditional brick and mortar agents, successful Work at Home agents are highly self-motivated and highly self-reliant. In addition, they often possess deep domain expertise to a specific industry that is aligned with the clients they service.
Q: What are the benefits HGS has seen from the program?
A: There are several advantages from this program. From an employee’s perspective, it provides an easy and convenient workplace model with flexible timings and without the hassle of commuting, extreme weather conditions to report to work (snowed in etc.). All this while getting paid the same salary.
For HGS, the business model allows us to leverage technology and create a combination of physical and virtual delivery ecosystem. This network delivers a consistent support to clients due to better availability of resources and access to a larger talent pool.
Q: How do you measure performance and other appraisal metrics in a work at home scenario?
A: HGS’ Work at Home employees are not independent contractors but rather full-time, permanent employees. Performance and appraisal metrics would be same as those for office-based resources; however, this segment of employees have the benefit of flexibility in location, travel, and timing.
Performance is monitored and measured in the same fashion as any brick and mortar employee. We monitor interactions (calls/email/chat) for quality, in the same manner, utilizing the same technology.
Each associate has video interactions with their respective team leader for coaching and performance improvement, and all documents are signed and maintained electronically.
We have seen improved employee retention numbers and higher customer satisfaction. Agents, owing to flexible work schedule and the comfort of working in their private office space, have been more productive and engaged.
Q: How does this practice tie in with the way HGS looks at the future of the workplace?
A: The traditional ways of working are being set aside as organizations look at the way work is delivered holistically. The future workplace in a services industry such as BPM will be a blend of office/ physical and the virtual/ remote working led by various factors including rising competition, disruptive nature of business, a younger workforce in some regions and a more aging one in others, and the need for ‘always on availability’.
HGS believes that the approach of Work at Home, which prioritizes the outcome rather than schedules and location, can help improve productivity of employees significantly. We have had a great start in creating a connected environment with resources literally based anywhere, and hope to build on this.
This interview was published in Moneycontrol.