Opinions expressed by londonbusinessblog.com contributors are their own.
The current health crisis, coupled with labor shortages, has caused companies around the world to rethink how and where to source their talent and build their teams, with many turning to staffing agencies. This article covers what you need to know before choosing a staffing agency to make sure it’s the right one for your business.
Offshoring as a business strategy is nothing new; it has been used for decades. What has changed is the what, why and who? of offshoring technology. At the beginning of the offshoring trend, the answer to the “what” question was the manufacturing process; the answer to the “why” was to reduce costs by using cheap labor; and the answer to “who” were large companies that could open their manufacturing facility abroad.
Today, with all the technological advancements that have been made to enable remote working alongside the current situation, the answers to these questions have shifted favorably. Companies offshore all kinds of positions and jobs: from administrative, virtual assistant, customer service and finance to digital design and information technology. Lower costs are less relevant as accessing a global talent pool has become the priority and no longer exclusive to large companies.
Related: Need to Rent? The benefits of using an employment agency.
Outsourcing vs Offshoring
Before listing the main practices to be followed when choosing a staffing agency, it is essential to clarify the distinction between outsourcing and offshoring to avoid misconceptions.
Outsourcing or business process outsourcing (BPO): Outsourcing occurs when a company outsources its entire process, giving control over the employees and the outsourced process to a third party. Basically, the company pays for a process to be completed.
Offshore and nearshore personnel: Offshoring occurs when a company turns to another country to recruit staff. In this case, the company pays for an agency that hires and manages every aspect of the workforce (employee records, legal compliance, payroll), but the staff reports directly to the company; the process is not outsourced. The difference between offshore and nearshore personnel is that the former involves an overseas company while the latter involves a neighboring country.
For example, design is an important function that can be outsourced, assuming your company doesn’t specialize in design and doesn’t have enough work to justify hiring a full-time employee. However, if you are a design or marketing company, you would be better off using a personnel office to assemble and lead a team of remote designers working directly under your supervision through company guidelines, training and policies. In this situation, outsourcing design is not a recommended option.
What should you pay attention to when looking for the right nearshore or offshore employment agency?
As you can see, there are multiple ways to grow your team. In our company, Remote Team Solutions, we have seen many success stories: from a company that started with a single employee and grew in less than two years to more than ten team members to a company that initially outsourced its call center and now the entire call center in Mexico works remotely. Our company has identified four practices that are game changers when choosing the right nearshore or offshore staffing agency. These practices are listed below.
1. Be ready and prepared
Working remotely is not the same as having your employees in the office. When you hire a staffing agency, you need to be prepared, have tools, processes and job descriptions, and know exactly what you expect from your employees abroad. Be clear about what is better for the business: offshoring or nearshoring. Do you want your employees to work in your time zone? Do you need them close by so you can go to their place and train them in person or fly one of the leaders to your HQ?
2. Look at the employment agency as a partner
You should choose the employment agency in the same way as a business partner. As you grow, you will need more staff and support from your temp agency. Their work culture and values should match those of your company. Make sure they can provide the features and staff you need as you grow. I always recommend asking for references and looking at an agency’s staff turnover.
Related: How to Recruit Talent with the ‘Agency Bug’
3. Never delegate employee selection
The team determines the success of the company. The employment agency may be the expert in hiring and filtering, but nobody knows your company and culture better than you; therefore, make sure you can interview all the candidates and have the final say on who to hire.
4. Communicate with your team
This is critical to the success of your remote team. You need to see your nearshore team as an extension of your business, making them feel like a part of it and winning their loyalty. A sense of belonging is essential. Communicate directly with your team, make sure the team knows exactly what you expect from them, and organize daily meetings and external events to integrate everyone on the team.
I encourage entrepreneurs and businesses around the world to observe the changes that have taken place in remote working and think about how they can benefit most from it. Non-core functions, such as accounting and legal procedures, can be outsourced, so you can focus on the tasks and processes that add value to your business and customers. For these functions, which you should not outsource, you can take full advantage of an employment agency. In my personal experience, I have seen many companies grow using the strategies described here, but remember, like anything in business, you have to do it right. Put in the time and choose the right agency for your business.