Outsourcing work to overseas employees has always been a source of controversy, but many businesses embrace it and hire them over in-house employees. It has its pros and cons, certainly, but no matter the position on the topic, there's no denying that it's happening more than ever in today's digital world. As such, a discussion on what to remember when working with overseas employees is important. Here are a few things to keep in mind on the matter.
1. Treat Them Like They're In-House
Perhaps the biggest mistake made by managers when dealing with overseas employees is how they treat them compared to the in-house team. Whether or not it's intentional, it's all too common, which is hugely problematic for a number of reasons. An employee doesn't have to be physically present to deserve respect and decency – no matter where they are, it's important to treat them as equals. It provides a much-needed boost to overall team effectiveness and culture, while reminding them that they were hired for a good reason. There's not much of an excuse to treat them as lesser employees simply because of their proximity. Respect for their culture goes a long way, too. Bernie Dyme of Perspectives tells me, "Often we confine our focus only to the culture of the organization. Where this is critical to organizational success, employers must not lose sight of the importance of understanding the norms, traditions, and cultures of the country in which these overseas employees live as well. Feeling understood and respected will go a long way toward making them feel a part of the organization, not to mention that it will also help better understand the customers in that region."
2. Pay Them Fairly
A common misconception regarding overseas employees is that they're essentially cheap labor. This is dangerous thinking for entrepreneurs, as it belittles and pushes aside potentially outstanding opportunities. Remember that the work they're doing is important and requires a lot of dedication – do they deserve a weaker salary? Of course not; it's simply unfair. Instead, provide fair pay and equal chances at growth within the company. It's a gesture that goes an extremely long way.
3. Communicate With More Than Just Email
Another unfortunate mistake lies in the most important aspect of business – communication. Every single person in the global workforce will tell you that clear lines of communication are downright crucial to business, yet we commonly see managers communicate with overseas employees with nothing more than email. It's as if phones and Skype don't exist, which is absurd – even just hearing a human voice has large effects on overall operations, and seeing each other face to face makes a stunning difference. Nothing beats in-person communication, but we've got the tools to get pretty darn close, so we might as well use them.
4. Be Picky
Treating overseas employees as equal members of the team is important, and that includes the nitty gritty of the hiring process. Often, when work is outsourced overseas, standards for what constitutes a good choice are lower than normal, and for no good reason. Just as it would in-house, it creates the risk of sub-par work, and no matter where the employee is located, going through the process of hiring and firing is never a fun task. It's a chore that's easily avoided through more careful screening during the interview process. As Kyle Clark, VP of Business Development at Zylun Staffing, tells me, "When helping companies recruit overseas employees, we’ve learned it really comes down to skill set and communication. First, you must hire the right employees as you cannot afford to hire sub-par employees even at a lower cost and expect to come out on top. Second, you need to establish clear expectations with your employees and have daily communication and feedback with your team holding them to those expectations. When you have the right people in place and open communication, you set yourself up well for success." The benefits of taking that extra bit of time to ensure you're hiring the right employee are invaluable, and having great overseas employees provides just as strong of a boost to the bottom line as in-house team members.