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How businesses can find alternative employment options

There are many ways to structure and manage remote employment. Here’s what you need to know

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For growing businesses, finding the right people for the right job can be a trying task. Accounting, marketing, web development, and financial roles are all core to the success and growth of a business; hiring mistakes or delays can cause a hiccup in operations. As such, both large and small business owners are exploring remote employment, staff leasing services, and alternative nearshore and offshore workforce solutions. These options can help business owners avoid common hiring mistakes that can be costly. 

When an employee is terminated or voluntarily leaves the company, it typically costs the company. For example, one study found that the average cost to replace an entry-level position is 16 percent of their annual salary. That rises to 20 percent of annual salary for a mid-level position, and up to 213 percent for senior and executive-level positions. These costs may include ones incurred in hiring, onboarding, and training a new employee, as well as lost employee productivity and engagement.

In 2020, many tech-focused businesses were unable to find domestic employees to fill employment gaps at the rate and speed they needed. The solution: remote staffing. Once reserved for telemarketing, remote staffing has expanded its coverage, service, and support model to include many different roles, including financial, copywriting, and data entry positions.

According to Deloitte, the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a resurgence of businesses taking a hard look at their administration and operations. Businesses are reportedly “shoring up value and driving down costs, with a renewed focus on risk management.” They are refocusing on core business needs, resulting in a desire to shift primary and support IT functions to third-party nearshore or offshore partners. 

For businesses just starting to explore alternative employment solutions, there are a few things to consider. These include the differences between the types of third-party staffing, the benefits of remote staffing options, and how to effectively interview and hire a remote candidate. Partnering with a third-party remote staffing agency can help you manage some of these concerns.

What is remote staffing?

Before deciding to explore alternative employment or remote staffing options, it’s best to review industry terminology: 

Outsourcing

Outsourcing often references a relationship with a company located either in the same country or in a neighboring country. An example of this would be a New York–based company that outsources its marketing or public relations services to a company in Florida. While some might argue outsourcing takes away from rebuilding the American job market, the opposite is true. The global economy relies on outsourced or alternative and remote employment opportunities to keep the ebb and flow of the universal job market intact. 

Nearshore

A nearshore employee is employed by a third party located near the primary market of the business or industry they serve. For example, a U.S.-based company might outsource accounting services to Mexico. 

Offshore

An offshore employee is someone employed by a third party, and who is, for tax considerations, neither a resident nor a citizen of the United States. These employees are commonly located in India, the Philippines, Malaysia, or United Arab Emirates, among other places. For example, a U.S.-based company might outsource web development services to offshore employees in Kuala Lumpur. 

Benefits of remote employees

Alternative employment options, like remote hiring, enable organizations to hire top employees to manage specific areas of the business that may otherwise go unstaffed due to budget constraints or lack of qualified candidates locally.   

Businesses benefit because they take on significantly lower labor costs and gain high-valued, dedicated employees. Through nearshore and offshore remote employment, many third-party organizations recruit only the best and most qualified candidates for their open client roles. These candidates often have advanced technology skills, university degrees, multilingual backgrounds and fluency, and a willingness to perform complex work. 

A qualified PEO partner organization, such as VensureHR, will supply résumés of top-tier candidates who meet the job description requirements and who are presumed to be a good fit for the business from both a team member and morale perspective. 

Recruiting the right remote candidates

After reviewing the year’s budget and the filled and open roles within the organization, business owners may decide to shift some roles to either nearshore or offshore outsourced remote employment positions. Here’s how to ensure you can meet each potential remote staffing hurdle with a well-organized plan.

Have a well-defined title and job description

The manager of the position will need to create a specific, attention-grabbing job title to list for the recruiting opportunity. Consider simple job titles, such as “Senior IT Specialist” instead of “IT Specialist III.” An effective job description should include the job title, job description, responsibilities and duties, and qualifications and skills.

Determine geographic locations of interest

Employers based in the United States and looking for an evening or overnight staffing solution should consider countries in opposite time zones, such as India, Western Europe, and Asia. But if you’re looking for support during business hours with a few hours of wiggle room, you may consider South America, Central America, and Canada.

Invest in technology to support a remote environment

One of the top challenges of remote hiring is implementing the technology to support a remote environment. Because you will engage in communications and project management with them, it is imperative you invest in the proper technology to support remote employees. Offering a stipend or budget to help offset remote working technology, or developing a provision to consider technology in the partnership agreement, can help provide the necessary technology.

Create a budget

Create a budget that considers what remote employees are looking for in their potential employer, as well as what remote workers need to successfully fulfill their role in your organization. Things you may consider include the cost of benefits to them, and necessities to get them up and running (e.g., payroll and remote working technology).

The interview process for remote hiring

As with any interview, an interview with a remote candidate should help an employer gauge the candidate’s motivation, enthusiasm, and commitment. Before the interview, identify their qualifications to see if the candidate is a good fit for as many aspects of the job as possible, including having the right technical skills and relevant previous experience. 

Most recruiters for alternative employment and staffing solutions will offer a videoconference link for the interview. This allows for both parties to have a visual aspect to the interview process. The interviewer will be able to read facial expressions and physical cues to help build a better picture of the candidate. 

In preparation for the interview, employers should work with the remote staffing team recruiter to develop a few standard requests. All candidates should be asked for their most recent professional résumés. Candidates should be prepared to complete an initial screening, which could include a skills test or writing exercise to help gauge their level of experience and knowledge. If a candidate moves forward in the interview process, the employer should offer a set of questions to the recruiter to help prepare the candidate before the next step in the interview. 

Providing a list of questions ahead of time is especially helpful if the candidates are located in a country where their primary language differs from that of the employer. In terms of what questions to ask, depending on where the candidate is located, different cultural sensitivities may come into play. Ask the recruiting company whether the candidates can be asked about their personal life. For example, it may or may not be a good idea to ask about their hobbies outside of work or their family. 

Focus on questions that allow the candidate to share their qualifications, educational background, career path, professional interests, and short-term and long-term goals. Request that the recruiter gather professional details that are in-line with your organizational values and the goals for the department or role for which you are looking to hire. 

HR considerations for remote employment alternatives

Remote hiring alternatives like nearshore and offshore outsourcing can be beneficial to a company, but they can also bring their own set of HR challenges to the conference room table. Here are a few to be aware of. 

  • Country-specific labor laws. Hiring a remote employee who lives in a different country while performing domestic services means the employer will need to abide by the labor laws of the country where that employee resides. The third-party employment vendor should be aware of those labor laws and include specific requirements or limitations in the contract or partnership agreement up-front. 
  • Cost of services. Research third-party providers for remote hiring solutions to see if they align with your budget and geographic needs. For example, if you’re located in the Midwest region of the U.S. and your remote outsourcing third-party provider is located in India, any necessary travel costs may be a heavy lift, borne by you. But if you partnered with a company based in South America, the travel costs may be lower. Other costs to consider include administrative, service, and risk fees.
  • Language and cultural challenges. Depending on the remote outsourcing provider you select, there is always the potential for language and cultural challenges—so be mindful and aware. For example, while your newly hired remote worker may be bilingual, they may have an accent since English language education varies by country. For example, in Uruguay, 75 percent of university students read English and 55 percent are able to speak English. Conversely, a 2019 survey of residents in India reported that about 97 percent of rural residents do not speak English—compared to 88 percent of urban residents able to speak English.

Solvo, VensureHR’s alternative workforce solution, provides access to a nearshore alternative remote workforce. The geographic location aligns with the Eastern Standard Time zone, and the team of highly qualified, university-educated, bilingual employees serves as an extension of your existing team. They are able to provide support in roles such as administrative assistants, data analysts, and customer success. If it’s time to grow your team and expand into nearshore staffing options, we have the perfect candidates lined up and ready to get started.  

Julie Dower is a marketing and communications manager at Vensure Employer Services, living in Chandler, Arizona. A mother of twin girls, she holds a master of science in technical communications from Arizona State University and a master of arts in English from Northern Arizona University.

Lizz Morse is a marketing and communications supervisor at Vensure Employer Services. She holds a master of science in psychology from Grand Canyon University and has been published in Attorney at Law Magazine, Real Estate Agent Magazine, and The Good Men Project, among others. Morse has also ghostwritten a number of articles focused on small business administration and operations, appearing in publications such as Thrive Global and Small Biz Daily. 

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