What is the COST of your salary?

What is the COST of your salary?

By Rajesh Setty on Fri 27 Jan 2006, 11:43 PM – 7 Comments

During this trip to India I got a better understanding of the booming BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) industry in India. While I can talk at length about this topic, for now, I want to focus only on one aspect – the intensity with which the industry is attracting young talent and some of the consequences thereof.

Let me take an extreme example of a financial services BPO. Here’s a partial day in the life of a BPO employee

A BPO employee walks into the office at the start of his shift and takes his assigned seat. There is a monitor, keyboard and mouse connected toa  computer somewhere in the back. There are also two foot pedals. Work begins. Pressing the left pedal will load the record of a subscriber (or any other record which requires processing.) The employee will process the record – meaning make changes to some of the fields in the record and presses the right pedal. Pressing the right pedal will save or “store” the record. The employee then repeats the process. In simple terms, the process has three steps

1. Press the left pedal (this will load the record)
2. Process the record (make changes to the record)
3. Press the right pedal (this will “store” the record)

I know what you are thinking. They are not inhuman there. Every fifteen minutes or so, the employee has to take a break and do some prescribed exercises for 2 to 3 minutes and come back to work.

As you guessed rightly, to do this job, it does not require a lot of brain power but the pay is good. To give a comparison, a BPO employee may make anywhere from $300 to $600 per month whereas this employee’s classmate may be making only $100 – $150 per month. So, there is a huge temptation among young people to get into a BPO industry and make four times the money that one of their classmates are making out there.

My point is simple – if someone jumps into this career because of the money they get in the short-term, they will pay a huge price in the long-run. BPO is still in its early stages and the complete consequences are not known yet. A few years from now, the initial employees will be in a “stuck” state for good as they can’t do anything other than “robotic” actions in the back office. This is a classic case of getting a big salary in the short term and forgetting that the big salary comes with a huge COST in the long run.

Now that I finished my rant on the BPO industry, let’s talk about your case. Why don’t you honestly answer the question:
 “What is the COST of your salary?”

Special thanks to Satish MM of Verismo Networks for all his insights on the topic.


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7 Comments so far, Add Yours

Anonymous  on January 28th, 2006

While the short-term lure of good salary for the young employee is a deterrent for his or her long-term growth, it is not a bad start. Also, I think the culture of being employable is changing in India, and thus responsibilities too. In our generation (sounding so old), we did not think twice about our parents funding our education till the master’s program, including footing large upfront “donations” to the college. These people of today, I find, are extremely capable of handling a large part of their own future, and funding it themselves.

Yes, the jobs are robotic, but not without honor. It has helped many people achieve numerous things in life, till this era that remained pipe-dreams.

I think this time around, the onus is on the EMPLOYERS to ensure that these employees with brains be retained, in ways other than the traditional promotions. The India employees are shifting jobs everyday, not just because of salary hikes, but in search of better prospects, as they have “been there, done that” night shift robotic pedal-pushing.

What about BEYOND CODE 2: Learn to be the best Employer in 9 Simple step! :)

All the best-Karthik

Anonymous  on January 28th, 2006

Thanks Karthik for bringing out another perspective. My $.02:

If the person joining this robotic jobs is mature enough to understand that it is only a stepping stone, then I would agree that it’s a good thing. Four years into this, I see so many people in a “stuck” position. They did not invest in themselves and have developed “expensive” habits and they need the money. The only other job they can get is another “robotic” job :(

As you said rightly, a person make the most out of this situation by using this job as a springboard to success. Or, he can further mess-up his life.

On the topic of employers taking more responsibility, I have mixed feelings. These employers are facing a tough task of managing their business with 50% or more attrition over here. Even if they have the best of the intentions, I don’t know whether the current scenarios will allow them to put some good programs in place.

Thanks again!

2010 – The end of the fairy tale employment | Life Beyond Code  on December 28th, 2009

[…] 2. Really take a serious look at what is the cost of your salary? […]

Nuruddin Abjani  on January 1st, 2010

Once again, a brilliant post and as usual thought-provoking…

Although this is a 3 year old post, but still relevant…

I would like to add here another perspective to it: Why a Job?

Why not become an entrepreneur?

What stops you?

There are enough things that one can do without loads of money.. coz thats the first excuse people give against doing your own business: lack of initial capital…there are stories all over the world about people who started with nothing and are billionaires now…

Thanks once again, Rajesh.

I have become an ardent fan and follower of your blog and love ALL your posts.. !

Keep up the great work!


Rajesh Setty  on January 1st, 2010

Nuruddin, Thanks for the kind comments. I made a conscious decision when I started blogging (about five years ago now) that 90% of my blog posts will be relevant for a long time.

I don’t know how far I have succeeded but that decision helped me become better. It takes longer time to think about every post but it forces me THINK.

Thanks again.



Anand Bajaj  on January 1st, 2010

Hi Rajesh,

Though quietly, I hv always been following your blog post and almost every post relates well with my career and given the fact that you are from SW Eng. background, your perspectives connects well with me.

Your ideaology inspires me to THINK and retrospect my life and helps me to take right steps to avoid disappointment in future.

Thanks and keep provoking new ideas.


Rajesh Setty  on January 2nd, 2010

Thanks Anand.

Yes, I have a software background and continue to be in love with technology and everything related in general.

Have a fantastic 2010.



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