A new report released by the Associated Press is highlighting the issues of outsourcing jobs on Indian workers’ health. While the report lacks any hard evidence and focuses on a handful of individual cases, data released by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations estimated the cost of these increased health issues, namely sleep disorders, heart disease and depression, could amount to $200bn for the Indian economy over the next 10 years "if corrective action is not taken quickly".
As we discussed here on HFS a few weeks’ ago, the business case for organizations outsourcing certain services to locations closer to home (or even at home?) is becoming increasingly appealing – especially for those services that require a high degreee of interaction between the organization and its outsourced workers (for example software development). For those services where the offshore workers need to be operating at the same hours as US companies, for example customer support / help-desk services, the Indian workers must adapt to working swing-shifts and unsocial hours. My concern here is that Indian culture is very family and social-centric, and these types of jobs are becoming increasingly less desirable for many workers who go into these jobs initially to enjoy the increased compensation on offer, but are quickly realizing the trade-off with their lifestyle, health and family / social issues. As long as outsourcing providers are servicing US businesses from India that require a large degree of worker overlap, they are going to be faced with increasing issues of attrition and rising wages to keep workers in these jobs. This is the chief reason why the Latin America region is on the cusp of a major upswing of taking on outsourced jobs that benefit from the time overlap. At the same time, it increases the appeal of UK and European-centric services being run out of India, where the time differences are far less oppressive on the offshore workers.
These health and social issues are very symptomatic of a developing economy like India – and my only surprise is the speed at which they are happening. I believe these issues will only be magnified when work is outsourced from US businesses to China, where the time differentials are even more brutal, and the language issues much tougher. That is one of the principal reasons why China is (and will continue to be) far more successful at taking on services such as engineering and manufacturing, where these worker interaction issues between offshore staff and Western organizations and their customers are less crucial.
Is India growing up too quickly?