8 Reasons Your Outsourced Staff Are Not Productive

Outsourcing offers many benefits to organisations but without a trusted partner, you might find productivity slipping. This article outlines some of the reasons that you are no longer seeing the results you expected in your offshoring strategy.

1. Not Enough Work

Productive staff have a workload with clear purpose, deliverables and timeframes. They ideally also have “background” tasks to work on while waiting for decisions or actions from others. If any of these elements are missing, they may find themselves with excess time on their hands, which leads to boredom and laziness. Spending time on personal business, social media or other non-work activities can lead to deprioritising work as it arrives, resulting in errors and missed deadlines. Remember that because of cultural differences, your staff may not tell you if they have insufficient work; they may be concerned you will think they are critical of your management of them.

2. Fear of Failure

Fear of failure drives a range of baffling behaviours. Often based in countries or companies with a culture of expendability, offshore workers that make a mistake can have their employment terminated. If your people are worried about failing, they may have had a bad experience in the past, or may have been supervised by someone with a hatchet response to failure. This will result in them strictly following processes, not thinking outside the box, and lacking  enthusiasm.

3. Credit and Acknowledgement

Employees that deliver excellent work, generate new ideas, and go over and above will become disengaged and unproductive quickly if they are not credited for their efforts. Failing to recognize  good performance is disappointing, but credit being given to another person quickly turns into deep disillusionment.

4. Perfection vs Pragmatism

Your projects will experience a major slowdown if you have a team member who is overly fixated on perfection. The perfectionist will never be satisfied with their work, pushing deadlines further while other team members become frustrated.

5. Status

A cultural disconnect between HR practices in your company, and expectations of your offshore staff can lead to a slide in productivity. Your company may not promote, nor pay overtime, nor provide job titles that align with your offshore workers. If your staff members don’t believe they are being recognized for their efforts in a way they can share with their families and friends, their disappointment will show in their work output.

6. Context Switching

While some employees have mastered rapid task-switching, or multi-tasking as it’s more commonly known, context switching is the downside of this practice. Constant interruptions take their toll on productivity, with a single interruption having an estimated 25 minute impact to return focus to the task at hand. According to Inc., multitaskers take 50% longer to accomplish a task, and make up to 50% more errors.

7. Personal Problems

Financial concerns, family problems, and illness can all have a significant affect on your employees’ productivity. Depending on their tenure and what benefits are available to them, they may be reluctant to share these problems with you.

8. Over/under Hiring

When hiring for a particular role, it’s important to understand the differences in job roles in the offshore location with those in your home country, to make sure you don’t over or under hire. While you may have bookkeepers performing finance tasks in some countries, a fully qualified accountant will be required in many offshore locations. Overhiring is when you have hired someone too qualified for the duties, leading to boredom, while underhiring is employing someone inexperienced, lead to fear of failure.

Unproductive employees are detrimental to achieving your objectives, but that doesn’t mean they need to be replaced, retrained or remotivated. Looking for the root causes of productivity issues and addressing them can help retain valued members and set the tone for positive performance management in your business.

Need help in assessing the productivity of your outsourced staff? Check out this eBook.

About the Author: Michelle Fiegehen is the CEO of Yempo, a boutique offshoring company in three locations in 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 and Hong Kong.