Contributed by Gina Smith.
Businesses are discovering the many benefits of outsourcing. Often, companies can save thousands of dollars by hiring independent contractors versus full time employees. Contractors 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. But how do you monitor quality of contractors?
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 monitor quality for your independent contractors, 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. For example:
- Is there a specific way they are to address customers?
- What branding messages should they portray?
- How should they 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 quality and performance, plus 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.
Check Their Work
Don’t be afraid to spot check your employees’ work to monitor quality. 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 monitor quality of contractors. Clearly establish your expectations up front and review their performance regularly. Happy hiring!
Gina Smith is writing on behalf of Global Response. Gina covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.