We all know that loyalty and trust have to be earned. But it is also true that some individuals and cultures are more inclined to value these qualities. This is certainly true in Latin America, where familial and societal bonds are strong, and where people are more inclined to stick with one employer.
“Most developers in Latin America have an inherent desire to develop strong relationships, and to be part of something,” says Miguel Hernandez, chief operating officer at ParallelStaff, a San Francisco, CA-headquartered staff augmentation and IT managed services company.
However, loyalty is a two-way street. Many outsourcing companies from Asia do not put in the effort to build a trusting relationship with their employees. These kinds of problems can show up early in the hiring process.
“Many offshoring companies have lost their compass in terms of delivering not just loyalty, but also the actual candidate,” says Hernandez. “We have heard stories of upset clients saying that some crooked providers presented a developer to a web conference interview, and then had no remorse onboarding a different candidate.”
Part of the problem is that many staffing providers want to maximize their margin by sacrificing compensation. Some dilute their margins by accepting a deal wherein multiple staffing companies act as go-betweens.
“In the end, the developers aren’t fools,” says Hernandez. “They end up asking themselves: ‘To whom does my loyalty pertain? Company A hired me, but my end client is company E.”
The result is that the employees feel used, and conclude that they might as well quit, and transfer their loyalty to a larger company that can offer a better deal – or even to migrate to the United States, and work there.
This is unfortunate. Not only are developers undervalued, but they are also less inclined to leverage one of their greatest cultural strengths – their willingness and ability to empower themselves, and to take initiative in ways that are proactive, and that can be of great benefit to clients.
“In Latin America, this proactive mindset comes from having a very similar working structure, and social hierarchy, to what we see in the United States,” says Hernandez. “A software developer in Latin America can adapt quickly to an American client’s work pace, while maintaining an outstanding work ethic.
Promoting Staff Continuity
This work ethic, combined with a tendency to create strong loyalty bonds – not only in professional environments, but also within families – is a powerful combination that, if addressed properly, can result in a hard-to-beat value proposition.
“It starts with a recruitment process that recognizes the developers’ importance as professionals,” says Hernandez. “It moves on by constantly caring for their concerns and challenges, and it concludes by allowing them to have a flexible workspace, and a competitive salary.”
This builds staffing continuity, which is critical given that many software projects are not well documented. Without documentation, a new developer can take from two to three months to catch up – in a best-case-scenario.
“There are times when turnover is unavoidable due to illness, marriage or pregnancy,” says Hernandez. “Or sometimes a developer is not a good fit. However, if a staffing company manages to provide the developer with a balance of financial compensation and personal and professional growth, then loyalty is ensured, and little or no knowledge transfer is required.”
Offering Personal Growth
It is also important to know that loyalty is something that has to be earned over time. If ignored, the benefits can easily be squandered.
“Once a developer is onboarded, we keep a constant oversight for any potential risk, therefore allowing us to address any problem and help them resolve it,” says Hernandez. “Our developer’s careers are kept under a security umbrella.”
When it is understood that a developer is technically competent, and is worthy of being staffed, he or she can sit down with both the staffing provider and the client to determine the best reward structure. In this context, loyalty is the glue that keeps all three parties going.
“At ParallelStaff, we have created a community of developers,” says Hernandez. “It’s not just a pool or bench, but more like a network of professionals where we keep in constant communication; offering them courses, job offers, and ultimately, a place where they can find the flexibility to grow professionally.”
Ideally, a staffing company offers personal growth in the context of a volume-staffing model where the client always gets the resources it needs. That way, the resources are available when required, and projects gain momentum. That said, when companies focus exclusively on volume, loyalty is tossed out the window.
“Staffing developers by volume just for the sake of compensating low rates is just hideous,” says Hernandez. “I have known of offshore companies agreeing to charge 50 cents per recommended developer. Go figure if that creates loyalty.”
At the end of the day, loyalty is based on trust and understanding, and that’s built on an honest assessment of the workplace and its opportunities.
“The idea is not that they work with ParallelStaff forever, but that they find a developer’s community where they can go back and forth, and know that every time they work with us, they find a solid opportunity and a place to grow professionally,” says Hernandez. “If we are not hoping to become an alma-mater, we strive at least to be recommended by them as a great place to work.”