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The current health crisis, combined with the labor shortage, has caused companies worldwide to rethink how and where to source their talent and establish their teams, with many turning to staffing agencies. This article addresses what you need to know before choosing a staffing agency to ensure it is the correct agency for your business.
Offshoring as a business strategy is nothing new; it has been used for decades. What has changed, however, 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 “why” was to reduce cost by taking advantage of a cheap labor force; and the answer to “who” was big companies that could open their manufacturing facility overseas.
Today, with all the technological advances that have been made to provide remote work alongside the current situation, the answers to these questions have favorably shifted. Businesses are offshoring all sorts of functions and jobs: from administrative, virtual assistant, customer service and finance to digital design and Information Technology. Lower costs are less relevant as gaining access to a global talent pool has become the priority and is no longer exclusive to big companies.
Outsourcing versus offshoring
Before itemizing the key practices to implement 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 of the employees and the outsourced process to a third party. In short, the company is paying for a process to be completed.
Offshore and nearshore staffing: Offshoring occurs when a company turns to another country to recruit staff. In this case, the company is paying for an agency to hire and manage every aspect of staffing (employee records, law compliance, payroll), but the staff reports directly to the company; the process is not outsourced. The difference between offshore and nearshore staffing is that the former involves an overseas company, whereas the latter involves a neighboring country.
Design, for example, is an important function that can be outsourced, assuming your company does not specialize in the design and does not have enough workload to justify hiring a full-time employee. However, if you are a design or marketing company, you would do better to use a staffing firm to build and run a remote team of designers working directly under your supervision by company guidelines, training and policies. In this situation, outsourcing design is not an advisable option.
What to consider when looking for the right nearshore or offshore staffing 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 business that started with a single employee and grew into more than ten team members in less than two years to a business that was initially outsourcing its call center and now has its entire call center in Mexico working 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 employing a staffing agency, you need to be prepared, have tools, processes and job descriptions in place, and know precisely what you expect from your employees abroad. Be clear on what is better for the company: offshoring or nearshoring. Do you need your employees to work in your time zone? Do you need them close so you can go to where they are and train them in person or fly one of the leaders to your headquarters?
2. Look at the staffing agency as a partner
You need to choose the staffing agency the same way you would a business partner. As you grow, you will need more staff and support from your staffing agency. Their work culture and values should match those of your company. Make sure they can provide the positions and staff you will require as you grow. I always suggest asking for references and looking at an agency’s employee turnover rate.
3. Never delegate employee selection
The team determines the company’s success. The staffing agency may be the expert in hiring and filtering, but no one knows your business and culture better than you; therefore, ensure you can interview all the candidates and have the last word on who to hire.
4. Communicate with your team
This is critical in ensuring the success of your remote team. You must see your nearshore team as an extension of your company, make them feel part of it and gain their loyalty. A sense of belonging is vital. Make sure you have direct communication with your team, ensure the team knows exactly what you expect from them and have daily meetings and remote events to integrate everyone within the team.
I encourage entrepreneurs and businesses everywhere to observe the changes that have taken place in remote working and consider how they can benefit the most from them. Non-core functions, such as bookkeeping and legal procedures, can be outsourced, leaving you to focus on the tasks and processes that bring value to your company and clients. You can obtain the full benefit of a staffing company for these functions, which should not be outsourced. In my personal experience, I have seen many companies grow, using the strategies identified here but remember, like everything in business, you must do it right. Put in the time required and choose the right agency for your business.