Attrition and Offshore Workers

One of the reasons Yempo does not operate in the call centre space – specifically outbound cold calling – is due to the transient nature of employees in these roles. The work can be challenging and demoralizing, often with a high component of remuneration based on sales which are increasingly difficult to secure. The few times we’ve offered this type of resource – typically for a client with other Yempo staff – it hasn’t worked well.

We are protective of our culture at Yempo. We provide a positive, collaborative workplace which can be easily affected by high churn. Our three offices are small enough that all staff can get to know each other by name, even though they work for different clients and may perform vastly different duties. Transient workers don’t fit with our desire to maintain this culture.

As well as our culture and spacious, well-lit office environments, Yempo offers fantastic benefits to its employees to attract and retain the very best talent. But there are other factors beyond Yempo’s reach that we have observed over the years that impact attrition, and they relate to the client/employee experience. We now include these critical success factors in our Client Onboarding processes to guide clients on how best to work with their offshore workers, particularly if this is the first time they have staff outside their line of sight.

Steps to Successful Outsourcing

To start with, our most successful clients when it comes to building and retaining an offshore team have the following in common:

They engage regularly with their offshore resources.

Whether a client has one offshore resource or many, the frequency and quality of the engagement is critical. A lone employee assigned to a client, or one in a very small team will feel abandoned if they aren’t receiving regular communications.

Ensuring an offshore employee is included in team distribution lists and invited to team meetings will keep them connected. Scheduling a quick catch up daily or weekly to make sure they are on track also helps.

They make their offshore workers feel like they belong to their own organization.

Unless a client specifically prefers not to have transparency with their offshore team, we recommend that our resources update their LinkedIn profile with the client company name and use the client’s domain as their email address.

Clients with branded materials such as t-shirts or mugs are encouraged to provide them. Yempo can arrange these items on behalf of the client, and even install client branding within our offices.

They provide positive and constructive, developmental feedback.

Our most successful clients either participate in the Yempo appraisal process every six months or follow their own internal processes. They provide positive reinforcement on what the employee is doing well and what they’ve achieved and commend them on their skills. This balances constructive feedback on errors or mistakes, missed deadlines, communication failures or other misses. Yempo offers support and guidance on effective performance appraisals.

They get to know their offshore team members to engage on a personal level.

Clients that build a personal rapport with their offshore staff are able to maintain a solid professional relationship despite the challenge of distance. Finding out if the employee has children, how long their commute is, what they enjoy on the weekend has other benefits too. These discussions provide insight into the value system of workers and also any challenges they may have with timeliness or absenteeism.

They take time to learn a little about Filipino culture.

Clients that have a “meet in the middle” approach to cultural differences rather than expecting their offshore workers to fully adapt to a different culture have a much higher success rate. Working with different cultures can be challenging whether they are co-located or offshore, and a collaborative and curious approach is destined to build respect across the board.

Yempo has a Filipino Cultural Awareness Presentation that can be delivered at the client’s location or remotely to assist in understanding some of the differences. Or clients can start by asking how their resource celebrates holidays. What is their Christmas tradition? How did they spend their birthday?

They dial their offshore staff into their local team meetings.

If a team meeting is held in the home destination, successful clients always remember to dial in their offshore colleagues. Even if they don’t contribute to the discussion, the worker will feel included and respected.

The IT setup of all Yempo employees includes web conferencing software and clients are welcome to use their own system to chat to their workers.

They use video in their calls to improve relationship building.

Nothing builds a relationship like an in-person meeting, and video is the next best thing. Our successful clients use video in every call – it keeps everyone engaged and attentive, and enables non-verbal cues to be detected. The IT setup of Yempo employees includes a noise-reducing headset and camera as standard.

They foster a partnership with Yempo.

Managing an offshore workforce when they are officially employees of Yempo requires us to work in close partnership. Successful clients are keen to ensure both companies are aligned in messaging to the team and encourage their workers to understand responsibilities and accountabilities.

Ideally, offshore workers will raise problems with the representative of the company empowered to resolve it. Clients can direct workers to Yempo if they have queries about payroll timing, health benefits or office concerns. We will direct workers to our clients if they have problems with systems access, understanding their duties or troubles with a work deadline.

Practices that Lead to High Attrition

Conversely, our clients that suffer from higher attrition tend to share the following traits:

They underhire for the roles to save money.

Filipino workers are lower cost than workers in our clients’ locations. Underhiring can sometimes be a result of wanting to save even more money, or not understanding the local market. An underhire will result in a significant skills gap, making the employee feel overwhelmed by their duties.

Yempo guides clients on the right salary via a market scan, and also on the correct job title for a particular role. For example, in Australia, there are finance positions such as bookkeepers and finance administrators available to staff without university degrees. In the Philippines, this work will always be done by a degree-qualified worker, likely an accountant.

They overhire for the role to ensure they have the skills they need.

Sometimes a client may select a person with higher skills than they need hoping this will guarantee a particular level of capability. For example, a financial position that is predominantly data entry is a perfect fit for a junior accountant; hiring a CPA will result in a bored and demoralized employee.

Yempo is focused on right-hiring, ensuring you get an offshore worker with the right skillset at a salary that is at least the average market rate.

They provide inadequate onboarding or training for the role.

It is vital that an offshore worker understands Yempo, our processes and benefits, and then they must be onboarded into the client organization. Clients with robust onboarding procedures for on-site workers are in a good position to modify this for their offshore worker, but those without will not have a great experience. Offshore workers are already dealing with the tyranny of distance. Not fully understanding their role, their place in the client company, company values and priorities puts them at a distinct disadvantage.

Clients that invest time in onboarding and training are far more likely to retain their workers and have them operate at peak performance. Yempo can provide advice and assistance with methods to onboard and train staff.

They are critical in performance feedback, providing little or no positive reinforcement.

Clients that only ever provide negative feedback to their workers find that performance can slide further or the employee becomes disillusioned, tardy or suffers high absenteeism. Balancing the constructive feedback with positive reinforcement for good work will make it easier for the worker to take constructive feedback on board.

Yempo can provide performance appraisal guidelines in managing offshore staff.

They communicate rarely, leaving the employee feeling abandoned.

Clients that forget their worker exists, allocate them a huge amount of work, never touch base with them, or delegate the management of the worker to someone disengaged with their outsourcing strategy struggle to maintain talented employees.

It is important that offshore workers receive at least as much airtime with their remote supervisor as an on-site worker. As a client’s offshore team grows, hiring a senior, a team lead or a team manager to lighten the load and act as a management delegate will ensure the team knows they are a critical part of the business.

They foster a competitive “us vs them” relationship with their resources, about Yempo.

Yempo provides a warm and collaborative environment for all its workers, and particularly those that are “singletons” for their client. For larger teams, we step back to enable clients to build and foster their own culture. It is important however that Yempo understands changes made within the team to ensure compliance with the local labor code. Similarly, should an incident require Yempo to undertake disciplinary measures against an employee, it will be done with full consultation with the client. Clients that aim to exclude Yempo from critical decisions that affect our legal compliance put not only their employees at risk of churn but also put Yempo at risk of a formal complaint to the Department of Labor.

The Yempo HR team can assist clients with shifting patterns, customized attendance policies, customized mobile phone, and internet usage policies and other important compliance matters relating to their team.

High employee attrition is expensive. Hiring, onboarding, and training all consume significant amounts of time and can cripple a growing business. We are delighted to have low attrition at Yempo, and work hand in hand with our clients to ensure they have the most positive experience with offshore staff.

Are you considering outsourcing some of your operations? Let us guide you on the proper way to go about it. Send us a message today.

About the Author: Michelle Fiegehen is the CEO of Yempo, a boutique offshoring company in three locations in the Philippines. Now a permanent resident of the Philippines, she has lived and worked in the Philippines and India since 2009, building offshore capability for clients in Australia, United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Singapore, Dubai, South Africa, and Hong Kong.