Sergio Gómez-Luengo
Vice President Latin America
Kelly Services

People Who Drive Mexico's Economic Development

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 15:22

“As a neighbour of the US, one of the world’s biggest markets, Mexico tends to mirror what is happening there, from music and fashion to business practices,” explains Sergio Gómez-Luengo, Kelly Services’ Latin American Vice President. As an HR solutions company, Kelly Services has a lot to gain from the adoption of HR outsourcing practices such as contingent workforce outsourcing (CWO) in Mexico. So far, however, the reception has not been as warm as Gómez-Luengo hoped. “Although uptake of CWO in the US and Europe has been strong, particularly in specialized sectors such as science, technology and healthcare, in Mexico it has been more of a challenge. Mexican workers are not particularly excited about working as temporary employees; they always approach such a position with the hope of becoming full-time employees at some point. Temping is still considered to be second best in the Mexican workplace. To a large extent, this is a result of the working environment for temps, who often receive the lowest tier of company benefits. However, the news is not all bad; the generation now entering the workforce has a much more positive view on CWO.”

CWO allows companies to remain agile and flexible whilst minimizing the cost of managing contingent employees and mitigating the risk in employing them. In the Mexican oil and gas industry, Gómez-Luengo explains that Kelly has had successful projects with both TransCanada and Halliburton, and soon expects that the market will be ready for the introduction of CWO. However, before this happens, he predicts that a contraction of the human resources market will be necessary, as small to mid-sized HR companies would be unable to comply with contracts that need to be put in place due to high entry barriers.

Boudewijn Blatter, Business Manager of Full Crew Mexico, an HR firm specialized in supplying personnel to the oshore sector, says that for his clients, CWO does not make a lot of sense in the long-term. “Although the companies that we work with have small operations when they first arrive in Mexico, and therefore do not have their own HR departments, most of them will do their own HR management as they grow and develop in the country. There will always be companies that do not want to deal with the challenges of HR management in Mexico, which can be a tricky market if you do not have the necessary expertise, we see that most of our clients will not be interested in services like CWO in the longer term.”

Verónica Zenteno Mojica, Partner at Comive, a Mexican HR outsourcing services company located in Ciudad del Carmen, explains the advantages that HR outsourcing oers to companies looking to establish operations in Mexico. “Due to their unfamiliarity with the market and its risks, many companies choose to align themselves with a business partner located in, and with expertise of, mainland Mexico. Localizing your product or service with an established partner can help diminish the risks to your new venture and maximize its ability to succeed. HR outsourcing is one area where finding a local partner can provide a great advantage to a company with little experience in the Mexican market.” Zenteno Mojica says that HR outsourcing services can be particularly advantageous for small to mid-sized businesses looking to expand, as they serve as a great equalizer, allowing them the same chance as a larger business to compete in the market with quality human resources.

One of the key arguments in favour of payroll outsourcing and even CWO is that it allows a company more time to focus on its core business, and less time worrying about the logistics associated with employing people. It can also help to ensure accuracy of the employment process. In the Mexican market, Comive also specializes in benefits outsourcing, meaning that a company employing their services does not have to deal with the logistics of handling social insurance, pensions, unemployment, medical and accident insurance for its employees. The company manages benefit payments and calculates payback deductions based on the employee benefit plan selected.

Gómez-Luengo has a tried and tested method for predicting market trends in the Mexican human resources industry: he consults his North American colleagues. “A large part of my work is tropicalizing the experiences of my US and Canadian counterparts: working out how their experiences will apply to Mexico. Generally, they are between one and 10 years ahead of current practices in Mexico. In order to work my way out of a challenge, I will go back and see how they approached it when they faced the same thing, learn from what they did right and what they did wrong, and in this way tailor an approach specific to Mexico, based on existing market trends.”

In the oil and gas industry, Gómez-Luengo’s strategy as a result of experiences in the US and Canada is to build a database of oil and gas professionals. “The lack of qualified oil and gas professionals on our books and in the workplace in general is the biggest human resource challenge in the oil and gas industry at the moment. As well as looking at the Mexican talent pool, we are also looking south at countries like Venezuela. Venezuela provides a good opportunity for Kelly Services, because oil and gas workers are willing to consider Mexico as a location, both temporarily and permanently. The second area of our strategy is to coordinate with universities and academic institutions in order to help them prepare for developing more engineers for the oil and gas industry, which will be demanding many more employees in the years to come.”

Arguably, one of Full Crew’s greatest strengths is its international database focused on oshore operations. “Our database allows us to select personnel according to experience, age, country and visas, among many variables. This allows us to find the right people for the task extremely quickly – if a Mexican company wants to hire someone that speaks Spanish, and has experience in operating a certain type of vessel, we will be able to find them.” Blatter goes on to explain that in Mexico, most of the contracts that Full Crew fulfils are mainly filled by Mexican personnel. “Even foreign companies that bring international personnel to Mexican projects will normally replace the international complement of workers on board a vessel with Mexicans once the company feels it has sucient understanding of the Mexican market.”

As a local company, Comive does not have access to such a large international database of employees, but employs its own methods for helping its clients gain access to the right people. “Some companies may be confronted with the plight that, when they recruit, they cannot find the suitable person for the position. This kind of situation may puzzle the operator, and even aect the overall work eciency of a company. And it not only wastes time, money and manpower, but also brings a bad eect on the entire operation of a company,” says Zenteno Mojica. Comive’s strategy to overcome this is to collect detailed information from its clients about exactly what type of personnel are required for particular jobs and projects, and carry out recruitment processes in Ciudad del Carmen. “Clients only need to inform us of when they want their employees to start work, and we will find the right employees in the time specified,” says Zenteno Mojica. For when management level employees are required, Comive will also work to provide Personal Profile Analysis of applicants in order to find exactly the type of manager the company requires. Specialized in the oil and gas industry, the company has a database of many dierent types of employees required by its typical client, from welders, roustabouts, painters, storekeepers, crane assistants and motormen, to secretaries, interpreters and housekeepers.