Businesses around the world are changing gears when it comes to outsourcing, and the UK is no different.
In an effort to improve customer service and make funds available for investment in superior technology or grow their operations in other ways, many companies based in the UK are outsourcing parts of their function and making South Africa their first choice for talent scouting.
But why South Africa?
What makes the talent here more attractive than other countries like India and the Philippines who have long dominated the global outsourcing market?
Bjorn Annegarn, Business Development Consultant at Strider Digital, a digital consulting firm sheds some light on this noticeable trend.
Educated and experienced
“South Africa is home to a highly educated and skilled workforce, with many individuals holding degrees in IT, software development, business and marketing,” explains Annegarn.
“Our country boasts a diverse, vibrant and multicultural society, and therefore offers a unique talent pool that abounds with different perspectives, which in turn leads to innovative problem solving and renewed energy when it comes to dealing with modern business challenges.”
But this is not the first time South African talent has been in the spotlight. Our country has been favoured as a fast-developing outsourcing industry for a few years now. In 2020, McKinsey named South Africa as the second most attractive Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) location in the world, and predicted that over the next few years, the sector would grow by 3% per annum.
Strong and agile work ethic
“South Africa is a country that has a long history of overcoming adversity,” explains Strider Digital’s CEO, Annabel Dallamore, who works from the consultancy’s offices in Johannesburg. “And it’s because of this that the population in general is well revered for their resilience and resourcefulness. This, coupled with a strong and dedicated work ethic, results in workers who blossom in fast paced, ever-changing environments and who are always willing to adapt.”
And there are facts to back this up. According to OECD data, the average South African works for 43.3 hours per week. This puts them at the fifth highest in the world, however, it is also generally known that many workers put in hours way above the maximum limit stipulated by labour law and often have ‘side-hustles’ too.
Language, culture and time zone fit
“When it comes to communication, South Africa and the UK are well aligned with English being one of South Africa’s official languages. However, as an added benefit, many South Africans speak several other languages too, both local to the country and from around the world, making communication with clients or customers in different regions possible,” says Annegarn.
Additionally, South Africa’s work culture aligns well with that of the UK. Professionals in South Africa enjoy collaboration, are open to diverse perspectives and observe working constructs like being on time, being prepared, but in the same breath are flexible too.
And all of this fits in perfectly with South Africa’s time zone. Being only one hour ahead, UK clients and employers can easily stay in touch with workers throughout the day without requiring any complex scheduling.
“The business case for mixed ethnic and cultural diversity in teams and companies has been well-founded,” explains Annegarn, “and UK businesses are acknowledging this – putting forward another reason why South Africans are making it to the top of outsourcing lists.”
It is well-known that South Africa has a unique cultural mix that has helped to create a dynamic population whose workforce is well-acquainted with cross-cultural communication and thinking. South Africans not only bring unique points of view but offer up a global perspective that can be of great value to UK teams and clients.
“From a strong cultural affiliation to the ushering in of fresh ideas, as well as a creative and innovative approach to problem solving, it’s not hard to see why South African talent are top of mind for all UK businesses who are looking to succeed with their outsourcing plans,” concludes Annegarn.