The French multinational WebHelp will open its second office next Monday in the city of Braga (the fourth in the country), in the Cabanas region, officially counting on 950 people working in the north of the country, of whom 700 from the two offices. in Braga and 250 remotely.
About half of these workers come from countries such as Germany, France, Switzerland or Canada, and represent a generation of Portuguese descendants who return to Portugal to live and work.
“This is the second office in Braga, where we added 400 jobs to the 300 we already had in the first office in Braga, and we have a lot of people working from home, about 250,” said O MINHO Carlos Moreira, CEO from WebHelp in Portugal.
Although it has been in use since September 2021, the second office will now be inaugurated in the presence of the Mayor of Braga and the director of the multinational for the Northern Portugal region, ahead of the opening of the brand’s fifth office, this time in Aveiro. Currently, WebHelp has two offices in Braga and another two in Lisbon.
The children and grandchildren of the Minho diaspora are back
About half of these workers are grandchildren and children of Portuguese who have emigrated to countries such as France, Switzerland, England or Germany in the past century and are now returning with the characteristics of being a native speaker of the foreign language and also speaking Portuguese. Most are descendants of municipalities such as Vila Verde, Amares, Fafe, Vieira do Minho and Póvoa de Lanhoso.
Carlos Moreira emphasizes that WebHelp’s “business” in Braga (and in Portugal) is customer support through technical support (ndr: call center format), with only foreign customers, and WebHelp has technical support in nine different languages than Braga. That is, they get calls from abroad and in the language of that country they have to help the customer to solve his problem.
If in the north, due to several waves of emigration, jobs are taken by children and grandchildren of Portuguese, it is curious that the WebHelp offices in Lisbon, which also have more than 50% native speakers of foreign languages, do not work in the same way. .
In Lisbon, foreigners are really foreigners
Carlos Moreira points out that native-speaking workers in Lisbon have no relationship whatsoever with Portugal: “It’s immigrants who came to work”.
The CEO of WebHelp also emphasizes that other similar multinationals, competitors of the French, who are also based in Braga, use this employee profile – native language in the language in which they provide support, but also Portuguese.
Therefore, he believes that the Portuguese diaspora appears to be “an advantage” for the country, “just because of French and German”, thanks to the “second and third generation” emigrants. “Our employees were born in those countries, went to school there and have that advantage when they return. I think it’s fantastic for everyone,” he concludes.
Long-term career in home country – Benoist Voidie
Speaking to O MINHO, Benoist Voidie, director of WebHelp for the north, also recalls that the company works a lot with markets and clients who speak French and German, “so it makes perfect sense to hire people with a native level of these language”.
“This is something we effectively achieve by hiring people returning to Portugal from countries where Portuguese families have traditionally emigrated, such as France or Switzerland. We believe it is positive to offer this opportunity, as the goal for all employees is to grow and promote internally within the company, with a long-term career prospect in their country of origin, if that is what they want.” he declared. Benoist Vodie.
In general, both managers believe that not only WebHelp but all international technical support companies contribute “to the economic and employability dynamics in regions such as Braga”.
And why Braga?
About to open the fifth office in the country (Aveiro), WebHelp chose Braga as the center of the north, to the detriment of the metropolitan area of Porto. This is thanks to a study conducted in collaboration with the Instituto de Emprego e Formação Profissional to understand in which parts of the country foreign languages were most widely spoken, with particular emphasis on French.
But also because “urban centers like Braga have their own dynamism and potential, as well as several quality of life benefits that appeal to the employees we hire,” explains director Benoist Voidie.
Carlos Moreira recalls that “strangely, Braga and Aveiro were the best cities. That is why we decided to open the office in Braga in 2018, after opening in Lisbon in 2015”, he emphasizes, noting that in seven years the group will manage to have five offices in the country, employing nearly 2,500 people and claiming WebHelp as “one of the major sponsors in the areas helping Portugal grow”.
Benoist Voidie, in turn, adds other benefits of Braga, especially in terms of recruitment, “because there are people who are highly qualified in languages and other skills, who prefer to work outside the big cities and we can hire with less competition”.
Voidie states that WebHelp “in Braga was extremely well received by the local authorities” and that they “generally”, and despite being headquartered in Lisbon, “believe in decentralization to cities like Braga or Aveiro, especially in a time when they have to feel more and more the paradigm shifts in the world and in working methods”.
One of the best places to work in Portugal
WebHelp was recently recognized as one of the best companies to work for, also focusing on employees’ free time. “This recognition shows that there is a culture of work, but also of fun, because it is impossible to work in a place in the long run if we don’t have fun,” emphasizes Carlos Moreira, while imagining, for example, a recent beach remembers celebration in Esposende, where “people were also recognized for their work”.
Bet on the current team and increase to 3,000 employees by 2023
Looking to the future, Benoist Voidie points to the “big commitment to growing the team and infrastructure”, with the goal of reaching 2,500 employees by the end of the year.
“But above all we want to strengthen the current team and make sure that the most recently hired people feel fully integrated. We invest a lot in internal promotion, sometimes with percentages of 90%, so the goal is the growth of these employees. For 2023, our goal is to expand the team to 3,000 in Portugal, in line with attracting new customers,” he concluded.
Founded in 2000 by Frédéric Jousset and Olivier Duha, WebHelp started out as a real-time IT support company, later expanding into a ‘call center’ format. The next steps were taken in 2011, with an operation in London, and in 2016 with the acquisition of a leading customer support company in the Nordic region.
WebHelp is present in more than 50 countries and currently employs 120,000 people worldwide, 2,400 of whom are in Portugal.