Take calls. Provide solutions. Log eight hours per shift. Repeat.
This was the life of Maria Jimenez in two business process outsourcing (BPO) giants in Colombia, where she worked for more than two years. “My own experience in those two BPO companies was not as great. I was really hoping to have a different position or to be promoted. I spent half of every day just to learn and to have the opportunity to grow, but I never had it," she said.
She continued with the same routine for more than two years because, just like many in Colombia, she needed the job. She said, “The kind of career that I knew BPO companies provided was only meant to make money. There was no such thing as ‘career growth’ there.”
In those years, Jimenez found herself in a cul-de-sac. "I got unmotivated to work because there was simply no growth for me,” she said.
Jimenez’s thoughts are not uncommon in the industry. There remain perceptions in the Colombian job market that a career in BPO is a “dead-end job in boring office cubicles.”
This, despite the booming BPO industry in the country—one of the largest employment generators in Colombia, with more than 583,000 employees as of 2019. This puts Colombia in the top three countries in South America with the most number of BPO agents.
A report by the Oxford Business Group also said that Colombia provides several advantages for BPO companies. It has an investor-friendly regulatory framework and offers competitive wages. Moreover, Colombians have a neutral Spanish accent, which caters to the high demand for BPO services in Spanish.
“Most people see this job as a way out of a financial bind but not as a clear and desirable career choice. Many start work with preconceptions about the work environment, the offices, and what is expected of them. But there’s a new player in town who is shaking things up," Jimenez said.
TaskUs, the newest player in Colombia’s growing BPO scene, flips the coin and shows that people's dim views are not entirely true—or at least at TaskUs.
A people-first culture
TaskUs’s culture has always been heavily focused on its employees—who attest that it has positively influenced the perception of their own role within the company and how they relate to colleagues and customers.
TaskUs, first and foremost, is a people-first organization. Being people-first is an approach in today's modern organizations that puts employees at the heart of what they do, trumping even profits. TaskUs heavily invests in their people because they believe that their employees can be their best at work when they are happy and empowered.
Employees are encouraged to be open and transparent with their leaders. Connect 15, for example, is a unique program that was launched during this time of remote work. It gives anyone the chance to have 15 minutes to connect with someone from the senior leadership team and have a casual conversation. Aside from this, employees also have weekly one-on-one meetings with their managers for coaching and personal development.
“TaskUs has a game-changing work environment. The focus is on people and you can feel that,” said Steven Urrego, a Team Leader. “Not only do they make sure you have all the technological tools and training you need to do your job, but they also focus on making you feel good and motivated. They don’t just think of you as an employee but as a human being who feels and has needs.”
The company is also known for being an equal opportunity employer. TaskUs provides equal conditions and benefits for all employees regardless of position, gender, race, or ethnicity, and for some roles, even educational background.
Nicolas Lindo, a Teammate, shared, "The best thing about our TaskUs culture is that you can be yourself without feeling afraid or feeling like you're going to be judged by someone. Here we can talk freely and can express ourselves. As my teammates always say, you can be ridiculous and we will love you for who you are.”
“At TaskUs, we pride ourselves in being a diverse and inclusive global company. Our Diversity & Inclusion programs are designed to empower our employees to be their true selves, without the fear of being judged or discriminated against,” said Guillermo Ulloa, TaskUs’s Vice President for Operations. “It is when you empower and allow people to embrace their power that they become more engaged at work.”
Benefits that matter, and more
TaskUs has always been an industry leader in employee benefits, which include prepaid medical and dental plans and life insurances paid at 100% for all employees and up to 50% for their family members. TaskUs is one of the few companies in Colombia that provide this benefit for employees across all job levels.
“The prepaid medical benefit differentiates TaskUs from other companies in Colombia and places it in the top leagues. The company has understood that, especially in these times of pandemic, my and my family’s health are of utmost importance. Having preferential access to health services for free is extremely helpful,” said Lindo.
TaskUs also guarantees all employees a wide variety of paid leaves such as birthday, vacation, and sick leaves, among others. Even employees who are employed for less than a year can already use these leaves to ensure that they can prioritize their health and wellness, and pursue their personal passions outside of work.
Employees’ holistic well-being, especially their mental health, is a big focus for TaskUs. The company has invested in a department dedicated to employee wellness, rolling out various psychological and psychiatric services. These are available to employees 24/7 through the company’s Employee Assistance Program–all of which are free of charge.
“This pandemic hasn't been easy for me. Like many people, I've also had my ups and downs in the past year. But since I started working with TaskUs and maximizing our wellness and resiliency programs, which are my personal favorite, I have felt supported and loved,” said Lindo.
No such thing as ‘boring office cubicles’
TaskUs’s core values foster an engaging working environment for everybody in the company. Some of these include "Work Hard Have Fun" and "Teamwork Makes The Dream Work," which also translate into how the company builds its imaginative and collaborative offices dedicated to the physical and mental well-being of employees.
Contrary to what people think of as “boring office cubicles,” TaskUs sites across the world—from the Americas to Asia—are fun and modern. Designed to inspire teammates to be their best versions at work every day, TaskUs sites typically include bright-colored walls, meditation rooms, gyms, daycare for employees’ children, game rooms, and much more. And the Cali office will be no different. “You can come in for the coffee and stay for the career,” said Ulloa.
While most of their employees are working remotely, TaskUs still ensures they are fostering a fun and collaborative environment virtually, which has resulted in a global employee net promoter score (eNPS) of 72.27% in the second quarter of 2021—the highest for the company since the pandemic started.
One of the many things that Caleños are known for is their incredible passion and enthusiasm for sports. Inspired by this, TaskUs’s upcoming site in Cali will be called "The Arena." Given its name, the office will be designed to challenge the minds of employees, pump up their adrenaline, and encourage them to have a healthy mind and body while at work. It will feature the same world-class workspaces, recreational areas, training rooms, and production floors that TaskUs is globally known for. All of these come together to create a workspace that is not only fun but also efficient in creating ridiculously good work.
A place to thrive
A career in the BPO industry may be a “dead-end job”—as the typical perception goes. But this can only be true if there are no opportunities for growth. TaskUs takes a different approach: The company offers various professional development and upskilling programs to its employees.
TaskUs takes pride in its world-class Learning Management System with self-paced courses on different topics that employees can take on-demand. It also has a dedicated Learning & Experience team that supports employees’ learning and development for their current roles and preparation for the next step in their careers.
Jimenez, the Teammate who previously worked at two BPO companies, now happily works at TaskUs. She recalled, “I would admit I was initially hesitant to move to TaskUs. I thought it was too new. But I saw people I personally knew who also moved to TaskUs, so I joined the ship and told myself, 'Well, it is better to try than not try at all!'"
Jimenez’s move to TaskUs in February 2021 proved to be worth the leap. In five months, she got promoted to a Team Leader position—just exactly the career step-up she had always wanted.
"I applied to become a Team Leader even though I am new here. I really wanted to grow more and I believed that I could do the job, so I pushed myself,” she said. “I still cannot believe until now that my leaders here at TaskUs saw my potential and gave me the career growth I have always wanted. It feels so good to have leaders who support your growth."
“We stick by our people-first commitment not only to support our people in their career growth but also to try to contribute to the communities around us,” Ulloa said. “For example, in Cali, we have opened a Language Academy that allows anyone keen to improve their English skills for free. This way, if they want to work in our company, they are equipped with a good level and command of the English language to support them in their job.” Some graduates of the TaskUs Language Academy who passed additional assessments were offered a position in the company.
“TaskUs is committed to supporting the economic revival of Colombia and the immediate communities of our team,” said Ulloa. For instance, Colombia’s lone site is located in Cali, whose talent pool is essentially young (one-third being between 18 and 35 years old). This is the population segment that the city is betting on to nurture and support the steady growth of bilingual BPO work.
“The entire outsourcing industry is an impressive generator of employment. The employment that we generate is new; outsourcing companies do not take jobs away from other companies,” assures Ulloa. “As a business, we are proud of the culture of excellence that we have built for our clients, as well as our culture of being people-first for our teammates.”
Industry-award giving bodies take notice of the kind of culture that TaskUs cultivates, and this is why TaskUs has been consistently named one of the Best Places to Work by Comparably, Glassdoor, and Stevies, to name a few.
While many people remain skeptical about the careers that the BPO industry can offer, TaskUs is here to prove naysayers wrong. At TaskUs, the only “dead-end” that you will encounter is doing fun and meaningful work. And that’s a good thing to be stuck with.