Your workplace culture is a driving force behind your company’s reputation, productivity, and profitability. In fact, a healthy workplace culture is absolutely necessary to stay competitive in today’s cutthroat business environment. At the same time, your company can benefit from the cost-effectiveness of outsourcing workloads to contractors and freelancers.
Outsourcing may affect the health of workplace culture, which is built on the dynamics and daily engagement between employees. When you have a healthy workplace culture, your employees feel safe, valued, and aligned with the organization’s mission. Is it possible to maintain a healthy business culture and outsource at the same time?
With clear communication and a commitment to your workplace values, it is absolutely possible to nurture a healthy workplace culture while outsourcing.
Why is workplace culture is so important?
A strong company culture supports two elements that contribute to your company’s success:
Positive workplace cultures buffer work-related stress while increasing employee engagement. Engaged employees feel a positive emotional attachment to their workplace, so they are more likely to show up for work, reach organizational goals, and be productive.
Replacing employees is expensive and can have a serious impact on your bottom line. According to the Center for American Progress, replacing a single employee costs the employer 20% of that employee’s salary. When employees are happy at work, they are less likely to resign, and some of the best ways to achieve this at an early start is creating a loyalty program, or an employee value proposition. Loyal employees will stay with your company and cooperate with your organization’s mission.
Why consider outsourcing?
Why would a company outsource, if outsourcing can have such a significant impact on company culture?
Outsourcing can give your business access to a wider pool of talent. Some companies outsource certain tasks like bookkeeping services, HR management, and payroll to a team of highly trained professionals. But for the most part, companies outsource because it can reduce costs. If we take a look at outsourcing trends from 2019, a survey done by Clutch has reported about a quarter of businesses reporting reduced costs, while increasing efficiency, the trend that keeps growing every year.
Of course, there are downsides associated with outsourcing that go beyond the potentially negative impact on company culture. The outsourced party may have different standards of work. Because an outsourced entity is an extension of your business, you could risk misrepresentation.
When you uphold company culture across your in-house team and your outsourced team, your outsourced team will align more closely with your company’s standard of work. Right and timely communication, constructive feedback, transparency, performance programs, emphasizing business values are great places to start.
How to foster a healthy workplace culture when outsourcing
Although a workplace culture is the sum of all the individuals in a workplace, it is the employer’s job to foster that healthy workplace culture. Here are there three ways to do so.
1. Prioritize communication
One of the biggest impacts of business outsourcing on workplace culture is that it can make employees feel insecure… and insecure employees tend to disengage and become less productive. By proactively communicating your reasons for outsourcing, your employees are less likely to experience anxiety related to job security.
Honest communication builds trust
Before any outsourcing takes place, you need to tell your employees — especially those that will be immediately affected by the transaction. If outsourcing is going to make an employee’s job easier by removing some of the workloads, then explain how. But also discuss foreseeable challenges that the employee might face because of the outsourced work.
Open discussions about organizational changes are the best way to maintain the trust of your workforce. As a leader, there is no such thing as over-communicating. When your employees trust you to keep them in the loop, they will experience less anxiety related to outsourcing.
Treat employees like stakeholders
You wouldn’t hide important organizational information from stakeholders, and you shouldn’t keep such information from employees either. Before and after you decide to outsource, ask your employees for feedback.
Giving your workforce a voice in decision-making makes them feel valued, and in turn, nurtures a culture of caring and empathy. That said, the goal of treating your employees like stakeholders is to inspire them to feel accountable for your company’s success.
2. Develop a consistent workflow and process
Contractors often have their own way of doing things. They may be in different time zones. Having to work with a new organization can complicate logistics and throw a wrench in your employee’s usual workflow. This can cause frustration and dampened workplace morale.
Take advantage of online communication platforms
With the increase in work-from-home businesses, there’s no shortage of online platforms that can help bridge the communications gap. From Trello and Basecamp for project management to Zoom for conferencing, synchronizing remote teams is completely doable.
However, these tools are only effective if you develop a schedule and process for using them. Contractors may not feel the need to communicate with your regular employees, which can cause mistrust and resentment from your regular workforce.
Accommodate your employees
If your employees have to accommodate the contractor’s processes, then they will feel like you put the contractor’s requirements over theirs. Instead, put your employees first. Ask them about the challenges that they anticipate in working with a contractor, and how you can help. Work with your employees to develop team communication policies.
Conduct an onboarding initiative
When you outsource, some of the contractor’s roles can inadvertently overlap with the work of your employees. This may cause confusion, unnecessary redundancy, and miscommunication for your employees and the contractor.
With proper onboarding, you can familiarize all parties involved with workflow, goals, and each other. Use onboarding to discuss which responsibilities will transfer to the contractor, and which responsibilities will remain with the employees. When roles are defined, all parties involved can support each other.
3. Hire the right people
Workplace values are a lot easier to define than a workplace culture. Define your company values, and then act on those values by hiring contractors who share similar values and ambitions. When you outsource to companies with aligned values, you show a commitment to your workplace culture.
Hire for cultural fit, not just skill
Oftentimes, contractors are hired for their skill, talent, or cost — instead of for their values and cultural fit. Many employers assume that a contractor’s values don’t matter, as long as they get the job done. Unfortunately, a contractor that doesn’t share the values and ambitions of your workplace can make it harder for your employees to do their job.
Take your time to vet your contractor’s cultural fit. You can get a feel for the contractor’s values by asking them about past projects and clients. Don’t get caught up in low price points or promises of financial growth. Instead, take a holistic look at how outsourcing will impact the morale in your workplace.
Encourage long-term relationships with contractors
It is always important to nurture long-term business relationships. When you hire a contractor that is a good fit, then you are more likely to work with them again in the future. This means that you can avoid an extensive onboarding process and that your employees don’t have to readjust their workflow.
Healthy workplace culture starts from the top
A healthy workplace culture starts from the top down. If you are proactive about communication and demonstrate a commitment to your workplace values, then you can create a healthy workplace culture that is resilient to large organizational changes such as outsourcing.