How to keep your offshored outsourced employees engaged and productive
Outsourcing, also known as offshored outsourcing or Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), is growing at a rapid pace in the United States and Europe. It has become a critical tool for reducing costs while delivering the same customer experience. The BPO market in the US was $221 Billion in 2019 and is expected to grow 8% per year, reaching $407 Billion by 2027.
However, BPO requires a slightly different approach from other services. When companies treat their outsourced team as a specialized service provider (like an accountant) instead of an integral part of their workforce (like a customer service agent), it can lead to high turnover and mediocre results.
From my experience at Sprightlii (an offshored outsourcing firm) working with everyone from Fortune 100 companies to startups, I have found some techniques that will allow you to better integrate your offshored and on-shore teams. Ultimately, a seamless integration will increase happiness, engagement, and output for the entire company, on and off-shore.
Every company has its traditions for rewarding good performance and showing appreciation. Maybe it’s ringing a gong every time a sale is made, celebrating employee birthdays, or ordering a catered lunch every couple weeks. Whatever it is, your offshore team will appreciate the morale boost just like your on-shore team. Better yet, these traditions also bring a shared sense of culture between distributed teams.
Your offshore team might be far removed from your on-shore team, but it doesn’t mean they need to be distant from each other. Physical proximity makes it easier for new hires to “tap on someone’s shoulder” for help. They already have the burden of integrating with your company on the opposite side of the world—no need to make it more difficult or isolating than it needs to be.
Sports teams wear jerseys to show solidarity and build rapport. Your remote team can benefit from the same brand identity magic. Build a sense of company pride by sending banners, shirts, mousepads, and other company schwag to your outsourced team.
We take for granted how much communication takes place through casual office run-ins. Because you don’t have the same luxury with your offshore team, it’s generally better to err on the side of over-communicating. No task clarification, policy memo, or schedule correction is too small to send. To eliminate lengthy email chains and delayed action, prioritize real-time communication channels like Microsoft Teams, Slack or Beekeeper.
Prioritize Real-Time Communication
Communicate work or process changes in real-time, then have the offshore team write a summary e-mail to document it internally. As a bonus, it’ll build rapport between them and your onshore quality assurance team. This doesn’t mean you need to schedule a slate of regular mandatory video conference meetings—let those happen organically.
If possible, shift offshore team hours to coincide with your on-shore hours. This will make communication smoother and less formal (think Slack chat conversation vs an email directive). Better yet, your outsourced team won’t have to wait 8 hours to resolve blocks interfering with their work.
An easy way to rapidly build interpersonal relationships between offshore team members is to have them go on random lunch dates. Tools like Lunch Lottery can do this automatically, but simply drawing names out of a hat works just as well. Conversations don’t need to be work-related, either! Self-disclosure builds trust in a way that will help your offshored team work together more smoothly.
Have the outsourced team conduct their own hiring. They’re highly incentivized to hire people that will maintain quality output. Perhaps more importantly, letting them choose the people they’ll be working with ensures they’ll mesh well with the rest of their team.
At the end of the day, productivity and engagement go hand-in-hand with your offshored outsourced (BPO) team. Treat them like you would any other hire by rewarding performance, communicating clearly, and making them feel welcome and valued. Just like your on-shore team, a happy offshore team will always yield better results for you and your customers. These techniques are appropriate after you have already set up your outsourcing team. If you’re interested in BPO or Data Entry Outsourcing, check out my article on the FORM Foundation Method to learn more about the process and what you need to get started.
Guest Post by Shuang Wang
Founder & CEO at Sprightlii where our mission is to empower every organization from Fortune 500 to lean startups to achieve more with offshored outsourcing & Business Process Outsourcing. Previously served in key leadership roles at Mayvien and Accenture. As an entrepreneur with over 12 years of experience driving market share growth, I have mastered the ins and outs of customer relationships, growth and strategy management. Yale MBA graduate.