Studies showing the susceptibility of BPO employees in acquiring various diseases prompted the action.
Working in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector is challenging, with stress and pressure constant on the sidelines. These are then counteracted with unhealthy lifestyle habits such as heavy drinking and smoking, making BPO employees prone to face health consequences.
Giving imperative attention to this, the Department of Health (DOH) was recently reported to partner with multinational healthcare company Johnson and Johnson (J&J) to further educate the BPO industry, which has 1.3 million employees as of 2016, about adapting a healthier lifestyle. Studies reinforcing the susceptibility of BPO workers in acquiring various illnesses such as cardiovascular, respiratory and sexual diseases were a key factor to the vital move of DOH.
Health-related studies about the BPO workforce
The International Labor Organization Asia-Pacific’s study entitled “Business Process Outsourcing in the Philippines: Challenges for Decent Work” revealed that high levels of stress is familiar among BPO workers, especially for call center agents that are required to address customer requests ranging between 78 to 100 on a daily basis. Besides stress, the same study also revealed that BPO workers commonly suffer from exhaustion, body pain and voice problems, with inevitable night shifts considering the differences on the time zones of their usual European and American clients as a contributing factor.
Tapping on another health issue in the sector, the University of the Philippines Population Institute revealed in their study entitled “Lifestyle and Reproductive Health Issues of Young Professionals in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu” that BPO workers have higher probability of exposure to HIV/AIDS, underlining that they engage in risky sexual activities with stress as a driving factor. Such claims were supported in an International Labor Office-funded study made by the Ateneo de Manila University’s Department of Psychology, wherein BPO employees were stressed to engage in frequent unprotected sex and promiscuous activities.
The BPO Healthcare Program
Undeniably, BPO employees play a vital role in the country’s entire labor force. They comprise the sector that has been been significantly contributing to the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). With this, it is highly important to address any health problems that puts them at risk.
In the BPO Healthcare Program through the J&J and DOH partnership, BPO employees will be provided with different activities that aims to give them access to quality healthcare information and services. The program is set to be implemented on October 2017 and extended until 2018, with the long-term objective of engaging every BPO employee to live a much healthier lifestyle.