Lifetime Health Problems of Call Center Agents

Posted: December 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

by Benjamin Robert Johnson

As a public lifetime health educator, one of the countries I have visited is the Philippines. Among any others, this country brags of its proficiency in English communication. Gladly, most English speaking countries like my country, the US, take this opportunity to outsource some of their call centers here.

Primarily, cheap labor is what prompted foreign businesses to outsource here. As what I have observed, many Filipinos set aside their childhood dreams to work in call centers. How sad it is to note.

Call centers often lure young professionals because of a relatively high starting salary of 15,000 pesos (a lot higher than average laborers) and not to mention allowances, signing bonuses, good work performance, and other incentives.

In reality however, companies are exploiting the cheap labor here in the Philippines. A Filipino call center agent earns on average around $4000 dollars a year lower than Thailand with $4,900, Malaysia with $5,200, and Singapore with $16,900.

Not to mention the lifetime health problems attributed in working at a call center. These include:

Stress problems. Call center agents are always under pressure since they are constantly monitored. Low job discretions with high performance monitoring contribute to stress and rapid burnout. Months or years under stress can cause heart problems, nervous breakdown, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and many others.

It causes boredom and lack of interest. Call center agents work the phones for the entire duration of their shifts unlike other jobs where people get a chance to go out and get fresh air, read newspapers, surf the internet, and take some snacks. Some call centers may be loose on these things but not loose enough compared to other industries. Boredom and lack of interest can cause a death knoll of the brain – it reduces brain power. For long, it contributes to memory loss even at a younger age.

Very potent source of anxiety. Since everything is monitored, low score translates to corrective memos which can cost an agent his job; this constant monitoring cause anxiety to agents. On the losing part, penalized agents do not even have enough opportunity to appeal. In some companies, even tenured agents issued with corrective action memos get terminated.

Females suffer from Urinary Tract Infections (UTI). According to a survey by the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, a 10-minute break period is allowed for personal use like going to the restroom. This becomes difficult to workers more specifically to females since a cold working environment encourages frequent urination.

More exposure to unhealthy foods and lifestyle. Bars, restaurants, and convenient stores accommodate night shift workers. We all know that foods serve in these places are highly processed or packed. Thus, this leads to unhealthy food choices and unhealthy manners like smoking or severe drinking of coffee. These bad practices can further lead to lung cancers, high blood pressure, depression, cellulite problems, and even malnutrition.

Body clock is disrupted. Disrupting one’s biological clock more often can cause manic depression and heart problems.

Less socialization leads to emotional problems. Since the time followed is of the client’s, there is less time for the family and friends. Weekends and holidays are rarely off and there is prevalent overtime or extended time. Dr. Prandya Kulkarni, who writes for United Press International Asia, adds that young BPO workers, who receive high salaries, do not have the maturity and emotional capability to handle their wealth. This sudden wealth syndrome has led to such high-risk behaviors as loose sexual practices, drug addictions, and alcohol abuse.

Exhaustive workload creates lifetime health vulnerabilities. According to studies, exhaustive workloads can lead to various diseases like hypertension, cardiovascular illnesses, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, and high risks of cancer. Also, more medical needs are created to cure these heart diseases, or even cut off body fats, and even reduce cellulite build up for agents. Medical expenses lead to more financial problems.

Exposure to health hazards. An independent study shows that working in call centers shows high incidences of eyestrains symptoms, musculoskeletal symptoms, voice disorders, and hearing problems.

Causes intellectual drain and immaturity. A Foreign independent shows that agents usually have a monotonous lifestyle, it only involves work, eat, sleep, and a little socialization. This common lifestyle often leads to communal apathy or in Filipino terms they call it “walang pakialam.” Since call center agents are engrossed with their work, they do not have time to respond to social needs and concerns which can directly benefit them as a community and as a country. If this mentality is imbibe, then a worse social cancer of apathy will surely pull the Philippines down as it is happening today.

Myriads of lifetime health problems are faced with call center agents. Lack of education, social awareness, and public response made this things happen. It gives individual health problems and a social cancer if these problems are not addressed.

Source: Lifetime Health Problems of Call Center Agents

Recommended Read: Common Health Problems of a Call Center Agent

  1. Donz says:

    I totally agree with this article. The bottom line, I guess, is that most of the Filipinos (which I am for a fact and proud to say that) are mostly inclined to be “employed” rather than the one who “employs” mentality. Having a high paying work denotes prestige without taking into consideration the health risks entails to it rather than having a low profile, average earning business. Our society does not really support much on entrepreneurship. It is more inclined on labor industries rather than creating small scale businesses.

  2. Flo says:

    I’ve been a call center agent here in the Philippines for four years. Looking back at what i have achieved so far.. As an agent manning the phones, the salary is not worth it compared to the stress i get. Its really sad to know that Singaporean call center agents earn more. If you compare our fluency with the English language its a far cry , like seriously Thailand agents earn more. And Thailand is not even an english speaking country.

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