When it comes to running a business, not every process is better off in-house. Outsourcing can provide a much-needed lower-cost alternative and access to tailored expertise for companies looking to move to the next level. Approximately 59 percent of small businesses use outsourcing as a tool to reduce business expenses, and by 2025, the global IT outsourcing market will surpass $397.6 billion. Yet outsourcing encompasses many more business processes than your firm’s IT function and hiring remote IT engineers for your business. It can help you rebrand your business with fresh new digital marketing campaigns, provide access to leading finance specialists, and even allow your business to access temporary labor in peak seasons. However, like any other business move, outsourcing a part of your business comes with its own list of pros and cons, including loss of control, miscommunication, and in many cases, dwindling employee engagement rates.
The Engagement Problem With Outsourcing
In a recent Gallup survey, a staggering 73 percent of the workforce were not engaged in their current jobs. However, there have also been multiple studies highlighting how strongly productivity and company success is linked to employee engagement. Low employee engagement already costs companies in the U.S. $730 billion every year. The introduction of outsourcing to your business can present a heightened risk of reducing employee engagement further if they find themselves experiencing the downfalls of working in a remote team, such as isolation and a disconnect from company values.
A past Wall Street Journal article titled “The End of Employees” highlighted the push by larger companies like Pfizer and Google to employ temporary staffing agencies and contractors in place of permanent employees. According to the article, not only has the outsourcing phenomenon threatened job security, but it has also taken away an employee’s engagement by removing the purpose and value attached to their jobs – beyond a monthly paycheck. For this and so many other reasons, it is important to remember that while outsourcing can be beneficial in many ways, it only works if you implement the right measures to keep your team engaged and happy.
Reward Progress With Recognition And Incentives
Every worker, whether independent or in-house wants to be recognized for their contributions to the team. A great way to motivate your sub-contracting workers is to provide praise for their input and efforts. When working with outsourced employees, take the time to recognize a job well done or provide feedback on a tough project. A great way to approach this is to set aside dedicated meeting times every day/week to catch up with your outsourcing team. Ensure that you not only focus on what went wrong, but also value what went right and the positive steps that were taken to fix issues.
Value Flexibility As Much As They Do
Many workers choose to be independent contractors because of the flexibility and autonomy it can provide. The flexible nature of a remote team may not be suitable for every company, but it does have its benefits. While you should set clear boundaries and protocols when working with an outsourced team, you do not want to micro-manage outsourced employees. Remember that there is a reason why you hired them in the first place: they were probably well known for their skills and reputation. Give them space, and trust them to do their job – as long as it does not impact company deadlines. According to CIPHR, 76 percent of employees were more engaged when they felt they were in a ‘trusting work environment.’
Provide The Tools For Clear And Constant Communication
For outsourcing to work, clear communication is paramount. It is not only important to have clear communication channels with your outsourced employees but also with your remaining in-house employees during the transition. This helps to ease worries about organizational changes, restructuring, and possible job losses – which can further impact employee engagement.
Also, when considering what communication tools to invest in for your outsourced workers, be sure to include video calling. There are a handful of inexpensive and easy-to-use video conferencing software like Zoom and Skype for Business. Finally, invest in a handful of relevant project management tools for your outsourced business functions to keep track of your outsourced projects. Good options include PassPack, Slack, and Meeting Planner.
Pay According To Skills And Value, Not Just Market Rate
Many businesses choose outsourcing in a bid to cut their costs. In fact, 70 percent of businesses say their main motivation for using outsourcing is to reduce their business costs. Some outsourced business functions can demand highly specialized skills, and businesses should recognize this. While you should pay attention to the current market rate when negotiating pay rates, it is also important that you pay your outsourced workers according to the value they will add to your business. This is just one of the ways you can show them that you see them as more than a temporary or independent contractor.
If done right, outsourcing can bring great value and balance to your business. But to enjoy the benefits of outsourcing, you still need to focus on keeping your independent and in-house workers engaged and involved.