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To Outsource or Not: Help With the When

Sometimes, it’s hard to know when to ask for help, to identify the most appropriate moment for admitting you can’t do it all, after all, and that requesting assistance with a task outside of your wheelhouse of expertise, is perfectly acceptable. Indeed, it’s the wisest thing.

So it is with all things IT, a subject area that gets increasingly complicated in direct relation with your organization’s need for it. Here are some scenarios during which the call for an outsider to manage its most fiddly bits makes the most sense:

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  • Cheaper-choice outsourcing. Oftentimes, it’s simply a smarter economic option to bring in contractors to oversee an organization’s IT needs, given the requirement to pay the benefits and retirement options of a full-timer. A freelance mind that’s well versed in the intricacies of every technical challenge you can dish up might simply be cheaper than training a specialist from within.
  • Special skill outsourcing. Sometimes, an organization’s corporate activities wander into decidedly complicated territory, and the IT talents required to see an initiative through are simply beyond the grasp of regular folk. It’s at this point that calling in the services of a top-notch, specialized technician is an incontestably smart bet.
  • Piecemeal outsourcing. The services of an external IT expert needn’t be applied to every project in your kit bag. If your internal expertise is reasonable to a certain extent, and if your budget is equally limited, consider hiring outside staff for only your most technically tricky initiatives.
  • Short-term outsourcing. If the project in question is of the quick-turnaround, tactical nature (versus an IT undertaking that’s intrinsic to the essential daily-bread business of the company), it’s worth considering turning it out.
  • Valve-release outsourcing. The ability of your inside team to handle the technicalities of a certain IT-heavy initiative notwithstanding, if your employees’ workload is already over the limit, outsourcing the IT portion is a no-brainer. Also, if it’s simply a smarter use of your staffers’ time to have them glued to core projects rather than the IT considerations that facilitate them, don’t hesitate to call in a technical outsider so your folks can use their time more meaningfully (even if the activity could be done more cheaply in house).
  • Infrastructure-upgrade outsourcing. If a company is in a growth stage or is introducing new technical aspects to its infrastructure, it’s likely smarter to bring in a few outside technicians to set up shop and see to it that the insiders are up to speed.
  • Low-need outsourcing. Sometimes, it isn’t the crazy-challenging technical environment of a company’s IT preoccupations that sends it scurrying for outsourced expertise; sometimes, it’s quite the opposite. If your firm has a fairly stable and unchanging set of IT needs, it would be overkill for it to host its own in-house IT team. Better, in this scene, to outsource for expertise on an as-needed basis.

Outsourcing can be an extremely strategic tool for making your business more productive and profitable — but only if you know when to take advantage of it. Be mindful then, and use the force wisely.

Branding From the Inside Out

Branding’s not just for toothpaste and car companies anymore.

Every last organization needs to be mindful of the brand it’s got circulating on the street out there — and just as much for the benefit of potential employees as for customers. In an age where social media is the ubiquitous presence in every outward-facing overture, the concept of cultivating powerful brand identity for the purposes of attracting staff is an increasingly necessary one.

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Consider: a survey conducted by Randstad in 2013 found that 20 percent of employees under age 30 would rather work at a lower-paying job with a brand they respect than take a higher-paying position at a less reputable or welcoming company.

Eighty-three percent of the best employers on the 2013 Aon Hewitt Best Employers in Canada list identified as having an explicit employer brand.

And a recent CareerBuilder study discovered that firms with strong employer brands attract at least three-and-a-half times more applicants per job post than other firms in the same industry.

And why not?

After all, individuals considering the merits of joining up with a particular firm need to know what its values are, its weaknesses, its strengths and how they might gain by becoming a part of it. Companies like Lululemon and Nike have clearly explored this aspect of their calling card, and that’s why newcomers to their employee ranks understand the culture they’ll encounter when they get there.

So how do you go about making your employer brand more attractive to job seekers (and, while you’re at it, how do you attract the right kind of job seekers?)? You need to identify your value proposition, discover what keeps your employees loyal, understand why they like working for you — and then shout your findings from the rooftops.

If your company has an intensive training and development program, promote it. Has it been recognized on a wider stage for its achievements? Does it have a culture of rewarding employee innovation? Does it value health and wellness? Then demonstrate it. Trumpet it. Share it with the world.

Finally, be consistent with your message across multiple avenues. From the company website through its written material, physical spaces (what impression do visitors take away from the reception area, conference rooms and office layout?), presence at conferences and trade shows, and image portrayed at candidate interviews and by way of job-board forums, the brand needs to shine unswervingly through.

Employer branding is a smart way to get the best ROI from hires. By enlightening prospective staffers about why they would want to work for your company, they will.