The Mortal Survivors

By Jalene B.D.S.

In the Philippines, the booming and stable industry reigning is in the field of Business Process Outsourcing. Most of these companies are call centers. These help the economy of the Philippines and gives opportunities to people who are degree and non-degree holders to earn a competent amount of income.

So who are the mortal survivors? Well, that’s just a term I came up with pertaining to Customer/Sales/Technical Support Representatives popularly known in our country as “call center agents.” I don’t mean it as a disparaging remark but a compliment. Next to OFW’s (Overseas Filipino Workers), I admire call center agents for countless reasons. But one thing stood out, just like the OFW’s they cope well with difficulties in life.

THEIR STRUGGLES…

1. The world is upside down. Mortal survivors’ works in the evening, graveyard, or early morning shift. There’s a constant change with their shift in a month. That’s why most suffer from sleep deprivation.

2. Life at risk. And since the shift timing is not in the daytime, mortal survivors are exposed to danger commuting to work. Mostly, they’re victims of robbery but they live up to their name and would still go to work.

3. Health risk. Stress is the kryptonite of these mortal survivors. The nature of this work is kind of stressful but still it depends on how a person handles it if you let it affect you or not. Once stress strikes a person it affects his/her cardiovascular system/endocrine system/gastrointestinal system/ immune system/ musculoskeletal system/nervous system/ respiratory system.

4. Sponge-like living. You’ll hear derogatory remarks from the customers. You’ll hear their frustration in the service combined with their frustrations in life. You don’t have a choice but to listen until they finished talking because if you interrupt they’ll think you’re rude, if you’re lucky they’ll ask for your supervisor. But whatever they hear during that call, they leave that behind and move on. . . to the next call.

5. Scorecard = Pressure. Working at a call centre is like living on a game of “Survival of the fittest.” You need to keep up with the pace and be competitive or you’ll get left behind. Because at the end of the day, it’s the number you produce that defines you and your productivity at work.

6. Tax. They contribute a lot to the government’s fund. There’s no escaping to tax, government has a percentage on top of their monthly salary, incentives, OT (overtime), night differentials, etc.

7. The Tempest. Philippines is highly characterize with typhoons from late May — October in annual time scale. Once a powerful/high-risk typhoon hit the country the government is announcing a work suspension. But it’s not applicable to the Mortal Survivors (depends on their discretion though), some still goes to work and nothing can stop them — the wind, the flood, the rain, etc.

PERKS and BENEFITS…

1. Night differential. Though it’s taxable, still good that there is this kind of pay starting at 10pm — 6am.

2. Hassle-free transportation. Commuting to work in the Philippines is a hassle especially in the daytime. You have to be quick to get on the bus/jeep/mrt/lrt/taxi (depending on the mode of transportation you’re using) because it’s crowded. You need to be patient with the traffic every day.

3. Sure health-cards. Some companies outside the BPO industry don’t provide a medical benefit to their employee. But in call centers there’s always a medical benefit to their employee.

4. Flexible and strong character. They develop this ability to cope with difficulties in life in terms of the schedule, transportation to work, bad call, etc.

5. Achievers. Due to constant pressures they face every month, they acquire this character of being an achiever.

6. Paid by the minutes. If you exceeded the plotted schedule on your shift even a minute it’s still being paid.

7. *Employee discounts. Some call center companies who are generous go as far as to provide employee discounts to gyms, restaurants, spa, salon, and other amenities by simply presenting an employee’s id.

LAYMAN’S PERCEPTION ABOUT THEM

1. Easy and lowly job. Most of them think it’s an easy job that they just take in phone calls using the English language, and talk to their clients. Aside from English Communication, working in this industry requires other skills such as computer skills, multitasking, ability to analyze and think quickly, etc.

2. Bad influence. Just because they have vices (drinking & smoking), it doesn’t mean that they’re a bad influence. It’s their way of relieving their stress at work.

THE TWIST

Why do I know this? I’ve been working in this industry for a year and a half already. I met people in this industry with interesting story about life I learned from. And it’s kind of irritating to think that people who are not part of this industry think poorly of us. If they ask, “where are you working?” And you answered,” At a call center.” They’re response combined with a pathetic look– “Why? You graduated in college and you’re just a call centre agent?”

Well, we can’t change people’s perception unless they experience it themselves. But a piece of advice, don’t belittle us. It might not be a perfect job but there’s more to it than you can think of.

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