Shift to hybrid forced BPOs to be ‘creative’ in employee benefits

THE shift to a hybrid work setup has prompted business process outsourcing (BPO) companies to become “more creative” in providing benefits to their employees, says IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP).

“In terms of these compensation, these benefits in general, we’ve had to be very creative, especially since it’s a very fierce market out there,” said Frankie Antolin, IBPAP Executive Director for Talent Attraction and Development at a forum in Makati on Wednesday.

The IBPAP official emphasized that prior to shifting to the hybrid setup, BPO firms’ focus was on the soaring transportation allowance, which had to be rechanneled into “digital content, more of the internet, some subsidy in terms of power” and some that employees could use while setting up their office.

Antolin noted that as these firms transition to a “new world order” in terms of hybrid work, they had to resort to creativity in terms of shifting the pieces of the pie, if there is really no room to increase the overall amount.

Meanwhile, Antolin said that IBPAP, together with its partner associations, have been “looking at something a little bit more permanent” in terms of the work set-up that the Association will be implementing. However, she stressed that it’s still an ongoing conversation. Nonetheless, the IBPAP official said they are weighing their decision according to the country’s competitors across the region and even across the globe, as IBPAP wants to ensure that the country remains a lot more competitive in that aspect.

In a survey done by IBPAP, employees of a number of companies indicated that they’re more efficient and productive in a hybrid model. In addition, she said, the type of workplace model arrangement will affect their decision to stay in the company.

According to the IBPAP official, post-pandemic, “about 75 percent of IT and Business Process Management [IT-BPM] organizations are likely to operate in  hybrid models in the future where hybrid work is increasingly integrated in business solutions offered by service providers.”

The IT-BPM sector’s revenues rose 10.6 percent from 2020 levels to $29.49 billion in 2021, eclipsing its recalibrated target for 2022.

Employment figures in the industry also increased, recording a 9.1-percent growth compared to 2020. The number of full-time employees in the country increased by 120,000 in 2021, bringing the sector’s total headcount to 1.44 million. Two months ago, IBPAP chief Jack Madrid said that this will spill over into 2022 and continue to boost demand for IT-BPM services worldwide.

Meanwhile, at the recent post-State of the Nation Address (SONA) Economic briefing, Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual listed IT-BPM among sectors with the highest growth potential in the Philippines.

The Trade chief added that the potential is even greater now with the heightened use of digitalization and online services as a result of the pandemic. He said DTI is encouraging more locators to set up their IT-BPM backroom operation.

According to a May 2022 study by Cisco, a US-based multinational technology firm, hybrid work has improved the total well-being of Filipino employees, with 90 percent saying they saved money in the past year.

However, the study noted that only 29 percent feel their organization is very prepared for hybrid work.