Outsourcing basic services in a Company may seem a good idea on the face of it, but in the long run, is it that effective? Speaking recently to Anthony Govender, CEO of one of South Africa’s largest, independent and locally owned Financial Advisory firms, ASI Financial Services, Anthony mentioned the importance of keeping services within the company. There is no outsourcing at all, everyone right down to the general office cleaners and kitchen staff are all full-time employees of the Company.
One of the biggest drivers in business to consider and implement outsourced services is a move towards core business and reduction in labour cost. Outsourced services seem to be an effective way to reduce labour cost. However, the opposite is often true. Getting the same level of engagement and commitment from outsourced employees, often earning less than full-time employees is near impossible.
Even though ASI Financial Services in South Africa do not outsource services such as cleaning or basic administration it still has some of the best profit margins in the business. For Anthony it is a philosophy of empathy and giving back. “There’s no better thing than to actually give back. You’ll never get a more rewarding feeling. And, in my opinion, I think the thing that really gets you out of bed in the morning and do the work is having some form of purpose that’s bigger than you, more than just work.” This philosophy extends beyond the wall of the Company and into the community and this regards Anthony says that “We feed over 1,400 children daily every morning when they get to school. These kids are no different to me when I was a little boy.”
Anthony says it is important for all employees in his Company to feel they belong and are part of something bigger than just themselves.
In his recent bestseller, Lost Connections, Johann Hari writes on the importance of meaningful work and our connections to one another. He said that “This longing for meaningful work—to have a say over what you spend most of your life doing—is there, just below the surface, in everyone. Happiness is really feeling like you’ve impacted another human positively. I think a lot of people want their work to be like that.” Connections and feeling that we are making a meaningful contribution are what we are all about. We thrive when we feel we have a meaningful place and are able to make a valuable contribution.
As a simple example, cleaning staff from an independent outsourced company may not necessarily have the same connection to the client as an actual employee of the company of the client would have. If there is a real connection between your work and who you are doing the work for, it is easier to feel more personally responsible. One is not just a faceless means to an end. You are directly connected to your work and therefore held accountable. The quality of your work has a direct impact on how you are perceived and received within the company.
When there is a personal connection between people, the nature of the business is affected. People build relationships with one another. It is easier to connect with someone who you see on a regular basis, who has a mutual interest in the success and well-being of the Company. We are creatures of routine, we like knowing what to expect and we enjoy building lasting relationships with one another. Taking an interest in each other’s personal well being is easier when we get to know one another – and this takes time and trust.
Employees seen as valued individuals irrespective of title or rank will always give of their best. ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’ (Aristotle) The synergy and energy created by a team of mutually respected and valued people will always result in a highly effective and successful organisation. Connections are the glue that keeps us together, functioning as one highly efficient unit.