Sticky Jobs: How to Retain Remote Employees

Outsourcing isn’t a word that generally fills people with warm fuzzies of company loyalty. In fact, it might be difficult to picture a team in India as more than just a far-off speck on a map. It might seem even more difficult to build a relationship with a staff in India, as the average outsourced software developer won’t remain in their position for more than 23 months.

Then how on earth do you maintain employee retention with offshore?

Here are three common mistakes that companies typically make when it comes to outsourcing, and ways we have found to counter them.

Mistake #1: Thinking of your India employees as cheap, temporary staff.

The Expendables: Software Development Edition would not make a good film. A guy interviews, gets hired, types some code, has a cup of coffee, and quits. Not on my summer movie list for sure. Nevertheless, clients frequently don’t see the scope of where their India team members could take them. We invest in our developers by frequent technical training. The opportunity for personal growth is a great way to invest in your employees, and let them know that they’re valued. Weekly training sessions are held at our offices, and we send developers to outside training seminars based on the needs of our clients. There’s few things more valuable than education.

Mistake #2: Creating a toxic work environment.

A software developer named Ian Yu blogged about his views on why developers are leaving their jobs. According to Ian, it’s a balance between opportunities and grievances. No matter what opportunities might remain at a developer’s current company, management shortcuts and oversights can be enough to make developers lose their minds. In fact, most of the grievances he listed identified micromanagement as the main issue.

Too much management? Ok, well let’s peel away some unnecessary layers. We make sure to hire developers capable of owning their craft. Interacting directly with our customers motivates our developers by involving them in the whole vision of the project, right from the source. When employees have a path to greater pay, recognition and responsibility, they stick around. Direct involvement gives our developers ownership of these projects, and motivates them to see it through. Research compiled by Time Doctor shows that granting employees more autonomy increases their happiness, efficiency, work/life balance, and engagement while also lowering stress.

Mistake #3: Thinking of your outsourced team as robots, not people.

Where does all this code come from? Is India not a country at all, but rather a magical land inside of my computer? Maybe I’ve only ever seen my Indian developers faces over Skype because they live behind my screen. If you’ve ever had these thoughts, I am so sorry for you. It’s extremely important to remember the human element when working remotely. As a company with HR at our core, we make sure that our human resources team has the employees’ interests at heart. They understand that if company processes and employee needs can occasionally bump heads, you need to be willing to re-evaluate your processes. We must remember that people are people (not robots) and have unique needs.

But don’t think of us as the only means of communication with the India office. Our clients, India, and our U.S. offices are a trifecta. Think of this as one entirely human team. EC facilitates HR while the clients U.S. and India players work together to develop and maintain the software tools that the company needs. Thinking of ourselves as part of the same team makes a big difference in retention. Loyalties are formed, making team members want to stay.

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