5 Retention Tips for Foreign Employees

Several companies in Portugal avoid hiring foreign employees, especially professionals from Brazil (or other countries from outside the European Union), because they assume that they will quit once they have obtained their visas and settled in Portugal. Is this inevitably the case? In this article, we’ll give you some tips to help you prevent this situation.


Turnover measures the number of employees who leave an organization after a certain period of time (usually a year). This rate depends on the specific IT area, but it’s definitely a high one compared to other industries, in Portugal, according to the Expresso newspaper, the average is around 15% to 20% per year.

The main reason why turnover is higher in the tech industry compared to other areas is because of the high demand for IT professionals and the subsequent competition among companies for the best candidates, which leads to companies having to offer increasingly attractive working conditions, both in terms of salary, and in terms of professional and personal development. 

Remote working, from this point of view, has complicated the situation, as it has enabled foreign companies to recruit IT professionals in Portugal, have them working for them remotely, and offer higher salaries than the average in Portugal.



Hiring Employees From Abroad


Considering all these challenges, many Portuguese companies are looking for a solution to the shortage of professionals in their tech teams by hiring from abroad and bringing these professionals to Portugal.

Some companies invest time and money to enable these employees to come and live in the country, such as KWAN, which offers its international employees a financial and legal aid package to help their relocation process. 

So companies are making a great effort to help bring foreign workers to Portugal and, associated with this, there is an expectation that all this investment will pay off and that the person will stay with the project, hopefully for several years.

However, are these efforts enough to retain newly arrived employees?



Discovering That the Market Has More to Offer Them


As much as foreign employees are grateful for the opportunities, the initial support and the assistance throughout the immigration process, they often realize, after arriving in Portugal, that their working conditions are not always the best. At this point, other companies may offer them better deals.

Recognizing the true value of these employees, other companies offer much better working conditions (in this article, we looked at the benefits most IT professionals really value), including the option of working remotely, flexible working hours, and many other financial and personal benefits. 

Employees who have arrived in Portugal understand that they are indeed valuable and will be eager to seize these new opportunities, unless they are offered the same benefits at their current company!



Risk Vs. Reward


The preconceived idea of not wanting to hire Brazilian employees, or those of any other foreign non-EU nationality, to come and work in Portugal may be limiting companies and keeping them from accessing very valuable human resources.

As professionals who have left their country of origin, it is likely that these employees have already come into contact with a wide range of cultures, bringing different knowledge, techniques and points of view, and a greater ability to fit in.

Therefore, there is a huge advantage in bringing employees from abroad to Portugal, even considering the risk that they may change jobs after arriving. In fact, this risk applies to both immigrant and Portuguese employees.

Perhaps, the risk is greater for Portuguese employees, as they are more familiar with the Portuguese labor market and have a better idea of their own value as workers.



How to Prevent Your Employees From Leaving?


The truth is that you recognize the value of these employees and even feel a certain admiration for everything they have gone through just to be able to work in Portugal. 

However, when they decide to leave, you don’t always have the opportunity to make a counteroffer, because you are only told when the decision has already been made. So how are you supposed to retain these employees? There are a few strategies to take into account that can help you retain these employees.


1. Offer Salaries Adjusted to the Portuguese Market


If these foreign employees are hired with salaries and benefits adjusted to the Portuguese market, there will be a sense of equality with their Portuguese counterparts. And not a feeling that companies are taking advantage of “cheaper labor” from another market.

An equal and fair treatment increases the sense of belonging and gratitude among workers in general. And especially among foreign workers, who are undergoing a process of integration and adaptation to a new reality.


2. Keep an Open Communication


This means allowing employees to communicate with their superiors whenever they need to and when there’s a problem. 

Active communication enables employees to express their issues, doubts, and challenges as they arise, preventing them from accumulating, and affecting their motivation and work quality.


3. Corporate Benefits: Listen Before Making a Choice


Companies can offer a wide range of benefits to their employees. However, the benefits that are important for some may not be so valuable to others. It’s crucial to listen to employees’ needs and understand what will truly benefit them in the short, medium, and long term before deciding which benefits to offer.


4. Build Trust


If you don’t want to be the last one to know that your employee is leaving the company (ant through their termination letter) then you need to build trust on a daily basis. 

Building enough trust for an employee to inform you that they are considering to accept a job offer from another company can be challenging, but it can also be highly beneficial, as this prior information allows you to streamline your internal processes and gain time to work on a counteroffer.


5. Accept and Support the Final Decision


If the employee has made their decision to leave the company, with or without a counteroffer, the right thing to do is to accept and support it, avoiding criticism or any attitude other than wishing them all the best for their future.

If the employee leaves with a good image of the company, even at the time of their farewell, this could lead them to become a spokesperson for the company, referring new employees, becoming a customer or even becoming an employee again in the future.



5 Retention Tips for Foreign Employees – Final Thoughts


It’s true that foreign employees who come to Portugal may change jobs shortly after their arrival if they find better conditions and opportunities. However, retaining these employees is something you can actively work on! 

At KWAN, we have many foreign employees, some of whom have been with us for several years and have no intention of leaving. This happens because we make a lot of effort to retain our professionals, namely through a team of People Managers who follow the entire journey of our KWANers and support them anytime they face a challenge, whether through the Relocation Package, a set of financial and legal aids; the Buddy Program, in which one of our employees is responsible for helping the employee who is relocating; or via many other initiatives we take to support our KWANers. This commitment not only motivates our employees to choose to stay with us, but also enables them to grow and become better professionals!

If you’re looking for an outsourcing partner to help you with the daunting task of retaining your IT employees – so that you can focus more on developing your business and less on recruitment – KWAN is here for you!

Get in touch and let’s assess together the needs of your technical team!