Tackling burn out stress syndrome

A dynamic young graduate, Nikhil, who has just been recruited from college by a BPO, finds himself on the verge of a new life. Everything about this job – the work, boss’s attitude, overtime, targets, appraisals, friendly colleagues, and late night parties seem wonderful.

Over time, the work environment remains the same but the pressures begin to mount and the young enthusiast Nikhil begins to feels the heat. One evening he calls his buddies and they hit the local pub. They booze heavily till two in the morning and inebriated Nikhil needs his pals to drop him home.

India’s BPO industry has been labeled as the “Sunshine Sector”. It’s projected to grow as much as 30 percent in the next few years. But have we, in the bargain, traded health for wealth?

BPOs have made it possible for the youth to achieve money and success at a young age. At 23, the average college-goer with limited means and resources, can catapult himself into owning a car, a blackberry and credit cards.

In a recent study, New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital observed 181 BPO workers and confirmed poor sleep patterns and high substance abuse amongst them. Owing totheir lifestyles, the use of stimulants like tea and coffee was also significantly higher whereas around 40 percent were smokers, and almost 30 percent were found to abuse narcotic drugs.

How health is affected

Stressful lifestyles coupled with unheeded alcohol and tobacco consumption is a warning for the youth, as the risk for liver disease and heart trouble will only increase post 30.

According to psychologists, roots of alcoholism begin with social drinking; besides, high disposable incomes and stress at work only help to encourage the culture of hitting nightclubs and pubs. This habit becomes vicious once the youngster becomes totally dependent on the substance.

In view of the staggering impact outsourcing jobs are having on workers’ health, the union minister for health, Dr A Ramadoss cracked the whip on the BPO sector, saying, “Teenagers straight out of school and college, looking to make a fast buck, are collapsing in front of their computers.”

Turning to alcohol is usually due to two reasons – one is the work pressure, or it could also be the individual’s susceptibility to stress.

As Anupama Shah, psychologist from Hinduja Hospital says, “Not all BPO youth will use alcohol as an escape from work pressure as it may also depend on how they handle stress.”

Remedial measures
It is important to introduce stressed employees to better ways to manage stress such as exercise, yoga and personal counseling. Health check-ups should be made compulsory at the workplace so that any stress related illnesses can be addressed on time.

For those who want to get the better of their addiction, joining a rehabilitation program might help. Keeping yourself engaged with activities such as exercising, learning music, eating healthy and hanging out with people who don’t drink can also help ward off addiction.

Many Indian companies are moving towards adopting employee health care plans by introducing yoga and stress management workshops. But these efforts are only a drop in the ocean. For a country grappling with economic success, employee health in the burgeoning BPO sector may be taking a backseat and is therefore an issue that needs immediate intervention.

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Image: Flickr/creativecommons wjboyz

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