Outsourcing and Contract Jobs: Another Milking Strategy?

It does not require any rocket science to realise that the world is changing. This change has permeated through every sphere of human endeavour and the world of work is not left out. The advent of technology and the increasing demand of customers have given rise to a whole new bouquet of job portfolios. How people are recruited to fill up the new job positions has also given rise to different kinds of employment contracts and recruitment strategies.

Top on the list of available strategies to recruiters is how to get the best hands at a minimum cost to the company. This is sometimes done by analysing various job roles and how important they are to the core business. Jobs requiring highly skilled personnel and which are germane to the actualisation of business goals are prioritised by most companies. Even when the selection process is contracted out to a recruiting firm, the successful candidates are employed as core staffs. In this instance, the employment contract will include salaries, allowances and other benefits.

However, jobs requiring minimal skills are often outsourced to other companies. The outsourcing contract works in a kind of round-about way. An outsourcing company sources for workers for a company that needs some positions filled. Workers’ salaries are not paid directly by the company they work for. They are paid by their employers, the outsourcing company which in turn would have been paid by the parent organisation.

On paper, outsourcing appears to be a simple business arrangement between companies that supply and require workers for its operations.  Dynamics of this arrangement is often shrouded in mystery as workers are left at the receiving end of the transaction. Salaries are sometimes shared equally between an outsourcing company and its employees. As far as the sharing formula is not tampered with, working conditions of the employees at their assigned posts are overlooked.

Last Saturday, I was contracted to conduct a training session to a group of outsourced workers. During the course of the session, I discovered none of the trainees got a dime for transportation, accommodation and feeding to attend the training. Some of the participants travelled a distance of over 300 miles by road to get to the venue of the training. That is like travelling from London to Edinburgh and all at their own expense!

Another revelation was that there is disconnect between the outsourced and core employees. The outsourced staffs were often reminded of their status within the organisation by the core staffs. Not minding that their role is as well important to the overall success of the organisation, the outsourced employees were always scorned at. Of course, I stated all these in my report but whether they will be addressed is a question I have no answer to.

While it is too simplistic to use this singular incident as a basis to criticise outsourcing, it is enough to have a re-evaluation of the concept. I quite understand that the harsh business conditions have necessitated businesses to redefine their recruitment strategies. In order to stay afloat, companies are seeking ways of reducing personnel costs and one of such is to outsource or give contract employment. However, it should be done in the most ethical ways.

Let me also point out that companies do adopt outsourcing strategy for other reasons and not necessarily for cost-cutting measures.  A company may secure a business deal in a country far away from its operational base and may be exorbitantly prohibitive to move workers. In this scenario, it makes a lot of business sense to seek outsourced workers. It is also wise to give out contract jobs when working on projects with short or fixed terms. Whichever recruitment strategy a company decides to adopt, it should be people-focused and every other thing will fall into place.

Bashir Mudi Baba can be engaged on Twitter via handle @El_De_Bash              

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