2021 saw several industries slowly returning to normal operations. With a global vaccination rollout underway, businesses are starting to see the light at the proverbial end of the tunnel. Depending on their country’s response, the pandemic took a toll on you both personally and professionally. Some countries responded well while others, like the Philippines, found it quite challenging. Though vaccination rollouts are underway in the Philippines, other underlying issues still need to be addressed. One could say Philippine businesses are still struggling until now. While true on different fronts, some industries were surprisingly robust enough to make it through such turbulent times. One of these is the Philippine BPO industry, which saw a surprising amount of growth in 2021.
Growth During A Rocky Year
One of the signature traits of the BPO industry is its resiliency. It’s often at the forefront of changing business trends and has weathered storms in the past. Despite the resiliency, it still was not immune to the effects of the global pandemic. Many BPO providers needed to readjust their policies and priorities which, sadly, meant downsizing for some.
With this in mind, it was surprising to learn the Philippine BPO Industry grew in both revenue and headcount. According to the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (ITBAP), the industry showed a 1.8% headcount increase and a 1.4% revenue growth. The BPO industry was also one reason why the Philippines posted a $2.61 billion surplus last April.
Based on these projections, ITBAP president Rey Untal expects industry growth to cap at 6.5% this year. 87% of Philippine BPO companies are also projected to experience a 5 to 15% growth rate by the year’s end.
Adaptability Is The Key
So how did the Philippine BPO Industry pull it off? Aside from resiliency, adaptability is another key trait of the industry. The industry is well-known for adjusting with leading trends and using them to their advantage. With the industry called a “pillar” of the country’s economy, BPO employees are essential workers by the government. This means having access and priority to services that would help ensure their safety and maintain their productivity. One of these privileges is having access to available vaccinations.
Still, several providers – like Diversify – chose to prioritise employee safety above all. This meant lessening the need for employees to travel and reduce the risk of contracting the virus. By transitioning to a work-from-home setup, employees continued their operations seamlessly. Providers like Diversify know the importance and need of having a remote workforce can be productive despite limitations. Indeed, being able to operate remotely helped companies and the industry thrive during the pandemic. BPOs this year are set to hire approximately 100,000 new employees, many of whom would still operate from home. As this becomes the norm, key issues such as cybersecurity are raised and how BPOs need to rethink their approaches in a remote work setting. Several of them were able to address this by adding stricter guidelines to online security and monitoring of activities.
Diversify is one of the few lucky service providers that managed to continue operations and thrive last year. Though we had our share of setbacks, we managed to exceed certain industry expectations with our growth and operations.
The Journey Ahead for Philippine BPO Companies
As of this writing, BPO firms in the Philippines secured 1 million vaccination doses for their employees. Several key locations in the Philippines have also reduced their lockdown restrictions. This now allows for other industries to operate on a limited but effective capacity. As such, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) also sees the country’s economy recovering as much as 30 billion pesos this year.
While these are welcome signs towards the economy turning around, it’s important to note that change does not happen overnight. As the old saying goes, good things take time. Though it may take several months or years to recover, taking that first optimistic step forward is a big deal. As Untal stated “it appears that the sentiment of businessmen and country heads is positive on the growth of the industry.”