Small change has a large impact on transcriber staff welfare

It cannot have escaped the notice of those working in the audio transcription industry that Rev, the US-based firm, have recently dropped their transcriber pay rate from $0.45 per audio minute to $0.30. Its USP – charging $1.00 flat rate per audio minute – will have lured in a high volume of custom, appealing to those whose main priority is procuring the cheapest service they can. However this apparently glittering (and well-publicised) offer has a distinctly sinister undertone; the profound impact on the welfare of its staff.

By its very nature, transcription is often a work-from-home career. It attracts a wide variety of people, with a diverse range of personal circumstances that necessitate the flexibility this setup affords. Whether it is childcare or caring commitments, health issues – or simply the freedom to structure the working day as desired – transcription has a valuable and enduring niche for many in the job market. One could argue that these same personal circumstances also entail an element of vulnerability. Traditional office-based employment may be simply unattainable for some of the demographic, who then turn to transcribing as their main source of income.

Digital Voice Recorder lying on laptop
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What this means is that any transcription company purporting to offer dazzlingly low prices needs also to back up such a claim with a solid welfare ethos for its staff. This means paying a fair wage to enable transcribers to sustain an acceptable work/life balance, and to feel valued and appreciated in their job. Can Rev really plant its flag in this, with its new hourly pay set at $4.50 an hour?

McGowan Transcriptions recognises that transcription is a skilled, sometimes labour and time-intensive job. It cannot be rushed, nor corners cut. Quality is at the heart of what we do. That means we encourage our team to take the necessary amount of time to produce a consistently high standard of work. To facilitate this, we pay a fair wage. The well-being of our people is at the core of what we do. We have a Team Mentor, and an incredibly supportive body of transcribers all in contact via our virtual platform throughout the day. We have a five-day week, and encourage our team to unplug at 6 p.m. to allow family and welfare downtime. We nurture our team – and our comprehensive equality policy upholds this. Happy people are productive people, and they also tend to stay loyal to the company.

Consider this: if a transcriber is receiving $4.50, in order to make a viable day’s income, the temptation – nay, pressure – would be to get the work done as fast as possible to maximise earnings. It is human nature and basic economics. Therefore the standard of work you may receive as a client will be inconsistent or poor. Worse still, those same workers may be forced to work far longer hours in order to make the same cash, engendering an unhealthy culture of presenteeism at all costs. For an individual to push themselves to the limit just to earn a decent wage could give rise to health complications, having an overwhelmingly detrimental effect on their lives. Time is as precious a commodity as money, and by neglecting to pay a decent wage, low-cost/low-paying transcription agencies are effectively robbing their workers of both.

McGowan Transcriptions provide consistently excellent, reliable and trusted results. We pride ourselves on having the welfare and happiness of our people at our core. We hire human beings, with real lives, not robots. This is why we’ve been in business 26 years, and continue to outshine the competition year-on-year.

When choosing an agency for your next transcription project, to ensure you get an accurate representation of recorded speech, please consider the humans behind the words, and whether it is worth possibly sacrificing security and quality for a cheaper cost.

Written by Li Collins – Team Mentor