The key to any successful business is its talent. What would you do if you couldn't find the people you needed in the entire country, even though you were paying above market wages? And you can't offshore the jobs because of government regulations.
That is the current situation in Singapore. Finding and affording the talent needed has become a huge challenge, since unemployment tops one percent. "There is a work force supply crunch in Singapore," reports Alan Lim, head of sales and marketing for emarketing.com.sg, a division of 1st Page Pte Ltd., a Web developer and graphics firm there.
The firm has one full-time Web developer on staff. When Lim wanted to add to his staff, he says "it is not easy to recruit the right person." Most talented Web designers and graphic artists "shun working for a small company like mine." And he laments the lack of employee loyalty. Even though he paid above average wages, the new employees left after six months. The hours he spent recruiting were lost and then he had to repeat the process again.
Hiring a foreign worker is not a possibility for Lim due to restrictions by the Singapore government.
To get the work done, 1st Page hired local freelancers. He said freelancers would go for weeks without answering any of his correspondence. "Unfortunately, this led to major problems in quality of work, failure to meet deadlines, communications breakdowns and even failure to complete the work," Lim explains.
Naturally, these problems affected the company's ability to deliver work to clients. They had "a huge impact on my company, damaging our credibility and negatively impacting our bottom line."
In addition, Lim says he was forced to spend "an inordinate amount of time locating and managing freelance workers, which took me away from the important work of operating and expanding the company."
The solution: Outsourcing.
How outsourcing talent management solved the problem
1st Page hired Businetic Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based service provider that offers hybrid offshore employment services to its clients. "Our goal is to provide small-to-medium-sized (SME) enterprises the benefits Fortune 500 companies enjoy, but without the initial cost and continual commitment," says Jude Lee, sales and marketing director at Businetic.
Lim had never outsourced before. "Outsourcing was worth a shot. At that point, I was willing to try anything," Lim says.
Lim says the results were almost immediate. 1st Page experienced an increase in business, because now the company had committed and responsible employees. "The Businetic employees are highly qualified professionals with proven track records of expertise and top notch performance," he says. He adds they require minimal supervision and "consistently deliver excellent work on time."
Outsourcing allows him to devote more time to sales instead of the technical aspects of the work, a fact he relishes.
"Businetic has removed all my stress factors by expertly handling all aspects of my remote hiring," the outsourcing buyer continues.
And he saved "substantial costs." He says Businetic salaries are about 50 percent of what he had been paying and his contribution to Singapore's Central Provident Fund (like Social Security in the US) was 16 percent. "All in all, outsourcing has enabled me to run lean at a higher productivity rate," Lim reports.
Of course, there were some rough patches the provider and client had to work through. Lim says it took some time getting used to working with Businetic's remote communication tools. And there were cultural differences, too, since Businetic's remote office is located in Trivandrum, Kerala, India.
Lee says for most of Businetic's clients, "the key is understanding and patience. All parties need to make an effort to learn about one another's countries and cultures."
Overall, however, Lim says "the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages." He says the "partnership with Businetic is one of the most beneficial moves I have made as a company owner. Offloading my staffing needs to Businetic has led to smoother management of my company and increased profits, which have greatly improved my overall work and lifestyle."
The bottom line: "Outsourcing has become my competitive advantage," Lim reports.
Businetic's own outsourcing journey
Lee and Aghosh Babu started Businetic in 2010. The start-up outsourcing service provider originally offered IT and Internet marketing services to mainly the Singapore market. The founders noticed that many businesses were struggling to find the right talent for their companies due to the employment restrictions of foreigners and the small talent pool in Singapore. "We believed we could offer a viable HR solution using technology and the Internet," says Lee. Their solution: dedicated offshore employment.
Today Businetic's employees work on any time zone instructed by its clients. "This eliminates the hassle of communicating with a major time difference," says Lee. The India office is open 24 hours, except for weekends and public holidays.
The service provider helps its clients find IT, creative, administrative and sales employees. In addition to finding the talent (the really hard part), the provider also handles most aspects of HR management, including payroll and benefits. The company also facilitates communication between employers and employees, an important bridge to culture understanding, especially at the outset.
Businetic allows its clients to directly interview the candidates through video conferencing. Its client management system allows its clients to monitor their employees' work.
While the service provider has a few large clients, its sweet spot is SMBs. It is here Lee feels outsourcing can make a difference and level the playing field, especially in Singapore. Lim would agree.
Question to readers: Are you having trouble finding and keeping the right talent? How are you solving this business challenge?
Are there government regulations in your country that make offshoring difficult? If so, what are they and how are you dealing with this challenge?
Are you an SMB? How are handing talent management?