Outsourcing and Accountability – Monitoring the Quality of Independent Contractors
This guest post was brought to you by Gina Smith. Gina writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications on behalf of a number of companies, including Global Response. Smith covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.
Businesses are discovering the many benefits of outsourcing. Often, companies can save thousands of dollars by hiring contractors versus full time employees to perform various functions including information technology, accounting, human resources, marketing and customer service. Outsourced staff can also offer a fresh and objective perspective about your company, products and services. For instance, perhaps you feel your website and printed collateral are up to par. An outside marketing consultant may think otherwise and offer suggestions on how you can improve your brand image to help generate more sales.
While hiring outsourced labor sounds attractive, the question, which inevitably arises, is: How do I monitor the quality of independent contractors representing my business? It can be difficult to “trust” someone who is not a direct employee with important functions of your business unit. Although honest subcontractors will perform with the same care as a full-time employee, it is a good practice to conduct some monitoring, at least initially. Below are some ideas to help you ensure independent contractors both respect and protect the integrity of your company.
Set the Expectations
Outline your expectations from the onset. Familiarize outsourced staff with your company’s policies and procedures. Is there a specific way they are to address customers? What branding messages are they to portray? How are they to handle conflicts? What is the chain of command for customer concerns and complaints? These are all examples of areas to address with any contractor before they begin work. You might even consider developing a special handbook for outsourced labor, much like the handbook you probably already have for regular employees.
Remain “hands-on” for the first few weeks
When you hire outsourced labor, be sure to remain “hands-on” for at least the first couple weeks. This can benefit both you and your contractor. You will be able to monitor performance and witness how this person interacts with your customers and members of your staff. In turn, they will have ready access to you during their “learning curve” of becoming acquainted with your products, services, and processes.
Don’t be afraid to spot check work. There are many ways to accomplish this. You may choose to “shadow” outsourced employees to verify they are following all protocol and company standards. You can also conduct random quality assurance surveys with customers to find out how their experience was with the outsourced labor. Consider even asking to review any e-mail or written correspondence they send on behalf of your company.
Remember, this is your company and anything and everything they do will reflect on you.
Get employee feedback
In the case of internal services such as human resources, accounting and information technology, you can survey your in-house staff to gauge their experience with any outsourced labor. Are their services working well for your employees? Do they get along with staff? Are they readily available to answer questions? Staff impressions can be very telling!
Outsourced labor can be a cost-saving proposition for most businesses. More often than not, the results are very positive. However, because all outsourced staff are extensions and representatives of your company, it is extremely important to clearly establish your expectations up front and review their performance regularly. Happy hiring!