A recent article in the Harvard Business Review by David Weill (How to Make Employment Fair in an Age of Contracting and Temp Work), talks through the trends and pitfalls of the increasing use of contract labor. He points out the dangers of the “fissured workplace” where wages, safety, and compliance are split away as a company outsources services.
Firms typically started outsourcing activities like payroll, publications, accounting, and human resources. But over time, this spread to activities like janitorial work, facilities maintenance, and security. In many cases it went even deeper, spreading into employment activities that could be regarded as core to the company: housekeeping in hotels; cooking in restaurants; loading and unloading in retail distribution centers; even basic legal research in law firms.
Weill has an important point, and his article points out some of the pitfalls that major brands face in the hospitality industry. While he focuses on the government policies that have gone into regulating these practices, there is also an important branding point to make. Outsourcing core services that define your brand require the right outsourcing partner. Working with a company that knows the details of housekeeping, janitorial service, food service and a wide range of other hospitality roles, is going to deliver the quality that your customers expect.
There are vast differences in the level of expertise within staffing firms when it comes to industry knowledge as well as compliance with ever evolving regulations. For this reason, working with a staffing partner that has industry knowledge can help ensure that practices support and enhance you brand while simultaneously ensure compliance with government regulations.
Finally, working with a staffing partner with a hospitality specific focus means that the pool of workers that agency works is much more stable than other agencies. This addresses Weill’s point about the treatment of workers in terms of on time pay, mobility, and benefits. An industry specific firm is much more motivated to cultivate relationships with its pool of labor since those relationships form the bedrock of all of the quality standards discussed.
Overall, the trend in outsourcing is one that doesn’t appear to curtailing any time soon. But it’s important for hospitality companies to realize that the move is not strictly about dollars and sense. Outsourcing a core competency and one that your brand image relies on heavily, require a deep consideration on who that competency in entrusted with.