The BPO sector — a $26.7 billion industry as per a September 2021 Nikkei Asia article — continues to grow and is still a solid economic pillar in the Philippines. It is one of the industries that quickly adapted to the changes brought about by the pandemic.
Companies such as iQor have proven to be in safe and steady harbors amidst the waves of retrenchments and job insecurity brought about by COVID-19 and its effects on the national economy. iQor is an international BPO with over 35,000 employees in nine countries and a pioneer in providing outsourced customer contact solutions to global customers from the Philippines.
“When the pandemic hit, many companies shifted to a remote setting. The support services that the BPO industry had been providing consumers became even more important,” said Rod Hoddinott, the Senior Vice President & General Manager for Digital and Emerging Technology. “We had to ensure that our operations continued uninterrupted because a lot of companies depended on us. To do that, we needed to make sure our employees were kept safe. That was the priority. Our first step was to transition to a Work-At-Home (WAH) environment that allowed employees to do their work with ease — safe in their homes while ensuring information security for our clients.”
With a solid business continuity plan in place, iQor seamlessly transitioned over 18,000 employees to a WAH setting within two weeks. The transition included providing agents with a secure connection, equipment, training and coaching, and other necessary tools to help them perform and stay connected with each other and the company virtually. This allowed iQor to hire an additional 1,500 employees in October 2020. “Our uninterrupted and continuous operation ensured that those employed at iQor maintained job security. As a result, they were able to provide for and support their families continually,” added Hoddinott.
Despite 20 months of continuous lockdown in the Philippines, iQor continues to grow its physical and virtual presence, creating more job opportunities for Filipinos. iQor recently opened over 1,000 positions in Iloilo, offering options to Work-At-Home or onsite.
Onsite work is kept safe with the strict implementation of safety protocols. Added benefits are in place to ensure that employees are protected, and the company provides a new hire with HMO coverage on their first day of work. Employees can enroll up to three dependents, including a common-law spouse or LGBT partner, under their HMO. The company has also expanded its health benefits to include a COVID-19 assistance program.
The company has also taken notice of the financial challenges faced by many employees and is now offering ₱20,000.00 and ₱30,000.00 sign-on bonuses for no-experience and experienced hires, respectively.
“iQor provides up to 30 vacation leaves in a year, with 21 of those leaves convertible to cash. We have also introduced tier allowances to encourage employees to focus on their careers, and a Work-at-Home allowance is provided,” said Fleurette Navarro, Head of Global Recruiting and Senior Vice President for Human Resources (Philippines). “Our employees look forward to the quarterly performance review, which may result in pay increases for outstanding employees. iQor’s healthcare benefits are given on day one, while our life insurance is set to start on day one by the end of this year.
Navarro continued, “During this pandemic, we have assigned a dedicated team to work with employees who are either sick or identified during contact tracing. We have heightened protocols that are communicated and audited consistently to ensure safety in the office. We are working diligently with all local governments to make sure vaccines are available for our employees. In iQor, it’s not lip service when we say that our employees come first, and that is why we’ve gone through great lengths to keep them safe and supported — mentally and financially — amid this global pandemic.”
Earlier this year, iQor ranked number one in HR.com’s 38th annual LEAD awards category for Best Global/International Leadership Program. The company also earned third place in the Best Customer Leadership Training Program. The LEAD awards are given to global leadership development programs that explore innovation and best practices.
Navarro explained, “We are committed to doing our part in strengthening the current local economy by providing job opportunities and developing the skills and talents of our employees. iQor is one of the largest employers in the Philippines and continues to grow in provinces throughout the Philippines to support growth outside of Metro Manila. I am proud to say that we have promoted over 300 agents in 2021.” She added, “iQor believes that boosting the economy and providing jobs to Filipinos are critical in hastening the country’s recovery.”