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Understanding the health behaviors of India’s information technology and business process outsourcing employees

Anita Ram (Nutrition Division, St. John’s Research Institute, Bangalore, India)
Anura Kurpad (Nutrition Division, St. John’s Research Institute, Bangalore, India)
Sumathi Swaminathan (Nutrition Division, St. John’s Research Institute, Bangalore, India)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Publication date: 4 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the behaviors of India’s information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) employees in relation to diet, exercise, sleep, stress, and social habits.

Design/methodology/approach

This was a qualitative research study, using in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Descriptive data were collected from a two-stage purposive sample of 28 IT-BPO employees from three IT companies and two BPOs in Bangalore, India.

Findings

The majority of interviewees reported having an unhealthy diet and/or sedentary lifestyle. Lack of time due to demanding work schedules was the largest barrier to diet and exercise. Call-centers were described as a social environment with a young workforce.

Research limitations/implications

Given the qualitative study design and limited sampling frame, results may not be generalizable. However, the qualitative data suggests that India’s young IT-BPO employees may be at greater risk of lifestyle-related diseases than the general population. The data also suggests that interventions incorporating social influence may be a promising solution, particularly at international call centers.

Originality/value

There is a lack of literature on the lifestyle of IT-BPO employees in India. The results from this study provide qualitative insight on the motives for health behaviors of IT-BPO employees, as well as the barriers and facilitators for leading a healthy lifestyle in this industry. The findings provide the framework for future workplace wellness interventions.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

First, the authors would like to acknowledge the United States-India Education Foundation (USIEF) for providing funding for the project, which was conducted as part of the US Fulbright Scholar Program. In addition to providing financial support, USIEF assisted in monitoring the progress of the study. Second, the authors would like to acknowledge the St. John’s Medical College Institutional Ethical Review Board for reviewing and approving the research study. Finally, the authors would like to acknowledge Ms. Emily Madsen and Dr. Deepak Kamath for their assistance in editing the final manuscript.

Citation

Ram, A., Kurpad, A. and Swaminathan, S. (2014), "Understanding the health behaviors of India’s information technology and business process outsourcing employees", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 213-228. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJWHM-07-2013-0029

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited