Here are five issues to keep in mind when considering a career in the outsourcing industry. Ask prospective employers these tough questions before you make a switch.
By Atul Vashistha
As the outsourcing industry expands, HR and other professionals have employment opportunities to join the hundreds of companies servicing the very companies these workers once belonged to. But just because an employee understands the customer’s needs doesn’t guarantee he or she has the skills required for working in a provider environment. So what are the most important things you need to know about seeking employment with a global services HRO provider?
To find out, we polled our professional connections on looking for ideas applicable to evaluating global (or multinational) service providers, rather than strictly domestic employers. The ideas range from micro issues such as knowing the leadership style of your direct supervisor, to macro issues about the company’s financials and reputation of its senior leadership.
To help encourage discussion and debate about these ideas, I am going to rank them from fifth to first in importance, with questions you should consider before joining an outsourcing provider. Consider the answers long and hard because while provider companies can be some of the best organizations in their treatment of employees, their mission and goals are different from the clients’.
No. 5: Company Culture. Does the company have a strong record of diversity? Does it employ leaders from outside its home country? Does it promote women to key positions of authority? Is the company culture primarily top-down or a bit more collaborative and entrepreneurial? What are the stated and actual expectations for your work hours? Is work-life balance something embraced by this firm? Does the company donate money or employee hours to advance any social causes?
No. 4: Compensation and Benefits. Some global service providers offer stock options or warrants to employees, while others do not. Is the company public or privately held? What percentage of the compensation is tied to variables goals that are beyond your span of influence? Has the company met its group compensation targets despite the downturn?
Executive education is also a factor for those looking to assume more responsibility. Does the company provide continuing education for all of its employees? Does the company have a commitment to provide paid executive education?
No. 3: Working Globally. Does the company have competitive and generous relocation policies? Does the company provide relocated executives with perks such as housing and transportation stipends? Where are the company’s main offices? How long has the company been in that location (this demonstrates a commitment by the company to the location)? Does the location provide good quality housing, schools, infrastructure, and security? Could your spouse work in that location and would he or she be happy there?
No. 2: Management. Find out about the reputation of the firm and its leaders. Are executives rotated through different positions to give them a range of experience? Are executives in that organization cherry-picked or recruited by competing firms? What’s the leadership style of your direct supervisor? Is he or she flexible and interested in advancing your career?
No. 1: Know the Company’s Financials. Find out if the company is profitable. How does the company’s earnings compare with its peers? What’s the target profit margin on a sale? Which lines of business drive its profits or losses? Will you be asked to work in a group that is under-resourced or in need of a transformation?
I am hoping that as many of you look at career options in the current economy, you take the time to make sure that you are looking at the above five keys to evaluate the employer. But there is no reason why you can’t find an equally rewarding and satisfying position working for a provider.
Finally, I hope that provider employers also take a look at this list to build an inviting work environment. After all, to really meet their clients needs, these organizations need the domain expertise and cultural understanding that at times only an insider can offer. And nowhere can you find such talent than from those who are on the other side of the fence.
Atul Vashistha is chairman and CEO at neoIT, a management consultancy focused on offshore and global sourcing. He can be reached at atul@neoIT.com.