Jan 2019

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What your offshore workers really want… hint: it’s not cash

By: Odyssey Outsourcing
Tags: Australian Accountant, employee productivity, offshore worker

Forget the table tennis tables and the bean bags, the employees of today want a lot of different things, and it isn’t just cash.

In this digital age, there’s certainly a lot of transition of employees after a year or two, and no end of consultants advising on what to do about ensuring your employees are engaged and happy in their current accounting firm. Add to that a barrage of general news articles on the generational differences and how to deal with different staffing requirements, and then sprinkle with some more “fear and doubt” articles from any relevant industry magazines or websites!

It’s no wonder that Australian accountants are failing to hone in on the most important issues for their employees, and frequently getting it wrong.

Along with this confusion is now the new employee model of hiring an offshore worker, which just adds cultural differences and distance into the mix.

A lot of offshore labour hire companies are paying above market rates just to attract and retain key staff, and many times just poaching staff from another offshore provider just down the road. And while the accounting firms are currently enjoying lower labour through offshore arbitrage, the end of the honeymoon might be in sight. A continual spiral of job jumping staff, encouraged to move for another one or two hundred dollars, is likely to be the end result of the current overheating in offshore labour markets.  So it’s not all about the cash!

And while it’s the accounting firms who are involved in this market driving salary frenzy, it’s the poor old accountants client who ends up paying for the “above market rates”.

So what’s to be done about all the labour volatility overseas?

Starting with a good business model might make more sense. Find a firm that’s been in the market 10 or 15 years, who understands the market they are operating in, understands the local wage structure and benefits applicable to the industry. More mature firms normally have a number of staff social welfare programs. For instance, Odyssey has a remote farm that grows around 2 tonnes of vegetables each year and distributes organic pesticide-free vegetables to staff for free.

Also, more mature firms have developed remuneration and bonuses based on employee productivity. At the end of the day employees have different needs in different parts of their life. If they want to work a bit harder and earn a bit more money for a special occasion then employment flexibility should offer this.  And fixed income offshore labour isn’t able to offer this flexibility in a uniform approach across a whole firm.  Flexible income arrangements (e.g. bonuses) play a big part in an employee’s life.

This creates unforeseen problems, especially when the labour force is subject to “redundancy” if the Australian firm decides to reduce staffing. Jobs stability is a key thing missing from offshore labour providers.

Standardised training across all employees is another big ask for employees. Some labour hire companies leave the training up to the hiring clients, who are working on best return possible. This doesn’t always allow labour hire staff to feel like they are adequately trained.

A great career path is missing from a lot of labour hire companies. If your staff is part of a team of three, then their career path is team leader of the three staff. Not a very promising career path!

Odyssey has engaged in an outsourcing model as it feels that the labour hire market offers too many downsides for employee participation.

For more information on how Odyssey can help with your outsourcing please drop us a note. We’ll be happy to talk more about how we assist our outsourcing labour force excel, as well as other Outsourcing excellence!

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