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[00:33] - Outsourcing definition; invitation to review Episode 67 on layoffs
[01:37] - Leaders must value the relationships they have with both the people being laid off and being hired during the outsourcing process.
[02:24] - Honoring relationship means seeing people as your neighbor, starting by praying for them.
[03:05] - God might end up using you to take care of the people you hire.
[03:50] - Leaders should look at the circumstances of the people they are letting go and make sure they have the support necessary to transition to other work.
[05:15] - There is a heavy emotional inflence of outsourcing on those asked to leave. Being asked to train your own replacement can be especially painful.
[06:39] - Have clearity about what’s going on through the outsourcing to avoid worsening an us-versus-them situation.
[07:28] - As a worker being let go during outsourcing, don’t give in to the temptation to be angry or envious. Remember you represent Jesus right until the end and don’t give anyone a reason to doubt your integrity.
[10:27] - It can be helpful to try to see the big picture of the company’s goals. In some cases, outsourcing is not done out of greed, but a genuine desire to be able to continue forward toward a good mission. But leaders need to look far enough ahead that outsourcing does not come as a surprise if it becomes necessary.
[12:03] - Outsourcing is appropriate if you can protect those involved and put relationships first. It’s not appropriate for immediate gains, because the potential drop in quality can cause long-term damage to the company’s trust and reputation.
Outsourcing is not something companies do just to expand to another region. Rather it is a money-saving strategy. It is closely related to layoffs, as companies often let local workers go to hire in different areas where costs are cheaper.
Honoring the relationship you have with people is central to handling outsourcing well. It requires you to ask yourself what is loving, both for the local workers being laid off and the new workers being hired. Start by asking God to deliver what they might need, but understand and take accountability for the fact God might use you to take care of them.
Look at the circumstances the people involved have and ensure you transition them through outsourcing properly. A big part of this is giving local workers time to move on or showing other support, such as providing proper severance.
Consider the emotional influence of outsourcing. It’s common for companies to ask local workers to hire their own replacements, but that can make those workers feel devalued and depressed. Make sure that if workers must train others, they have the room to express their feelings about it.
Clarity through outsourcing is essential to prevent an us-versus-them mentality from growing and ensure everyone cooperates in the way necessary for success through the process. Communicate well with solid rationales and be definitive.
Local workers who are being let go might feel angry and envious. If you’re in that position, don’t give in to the temptations those emotions might present. Although it’s important to acknowledge how tough the outsourcing is on you, remember you still represent Jesus and try to see the potential opportunity He has in the situation.
As a local worker being let go through the outsourcing process, try to consider the larger mission of the company. It might be that there is no other viable way for the company to be able to continue its mission if they don’t use outsourcing to lower costs. Understanding that can help you not to take the loss personally. But leaders need to think ahead and be honest about when, if at all, outsourcing might fall into their growth plans. Outsourcing shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone in the business.
Review your company’s financials and trends within your industry to reassess the potential (or lack thereof) for outsourcing.
Talk to your leadership about the conditions under which they would outsource and which departments would likely be involved. Communicate what would be most helpful if the company were forced to outsource.
What’s coming up next:
Personal crises are incredibly common in work teams. Episode 93 of Faithful on the Clock discusses how to get and provide Christian-oriented support through those situations.
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Hey, there, everybody. I’m Wanda Thibodeaux, your host, and you’re listening to Faithful on the Clock, the podcast where every swoosh of the lightsaber is designed to get your faith and work aligned. In today’s episode, we’re talking about outsourcing. When is it OK for companies to do, and how can both employees and employers handle it in a Biblically responsible way? I’m not gonna waste any time today, so let’s get started.
So, this episode on outsourcing, I just wanna first clarify what exactly outsourcing is, OK? It is not hiring other people in another region or country because your business is expanding to those locations and going international. Outsourcing is hiring in another region or country specifically because labor in that region or country is cheaper. And typically companies that save money through outsourcing are trying to ensure they have funds not just to stay operational, but to really invest in other areas of the business. But there’s a really close relationship between outsourcing and layoffs, right? Because a lot of the time, what happens is that, when a business decides to outsource, they lay off the employees who are local. And then those local employees, you know, they’re out of a job. So, if you haven’t already done so, I really encourage you to go back and listen to Episode 67 on How to Survive a Layoff. It’s got a lot of good information on how to get through being let go in any layoff situation.
Now, that being said, I think the first thing you have to do as a responsible leader is remember that the people involved in outsourcing, whether you are talking about the person you’re laying off or the person you’re hiring, they are real people, OK? They have families. They have bills to pay. They’ve gotta eat. And so what I want you to think about first is, what is the value of the relationship you have or will have with these people? Because remember, most of the time, you’re talking about money when you do outsourcing. So, even though you might legitimately need to save money for the business, that relationship, it matters. It’s worth something. And so the biggest thing to remember is to honor the relationship. So what does that mean?
Honoring relationship first means that you see your former and new employees as your neighbor. And of course, Jesus calls us in Matthew 22 to love our neighbor. So, then you have to ask yourself, OK, well, then what’s loving in this situation? And on a basic level, it’s just making sure they’re cared for. And I think the most important thing you can do to make sure someone is cared for is just pray for them. Because, you know, you might not know everything they’re going through or everything they need. They might not tell you even if you ask. But God always knows. So, start by just praying and asking God to deliver whatever they might need.
But here’s the deal, leaders, OK? You might pray for God to take care of these people, and He might say, “OK, I’ll do that, but I’m gonna use you to do it.” So, if you must outsource, you know, when you look at your new hires, really look at what their circumstances are like. You know, sometimes, other regions or countries, yeah, it’s cheap to hire there, but there’s a lot of conflict. Sometimes cultural challenges. Maybe that region doesn’t follow the Christian God. So, really take all that in, because maybe as you give those people work, you’re gonna have an influence you never planned on that goes well beyond business. And you have to be able to take accountability for that.
But I also want you to look at the circumstances of the people you are letting go. I know so many companies, they decide to outsource, and maybe it’s just, you know, the American ideologies we have about being gritty and independent, but a lot of companies, they just let people go. There’s no helping them transition to new work at all. There’s no making sure they’ve got medical coverage or that they’ll have enough money until they find a new job. And I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound too loving to me. So, just do what you can to help your current workers move on. And sometimes, that’s just giving them enough notice about the outsourcing so they have time to start putting in applications. But sometimes it’s making sure they have a good severance package that can cushion them financially for a little while, or making training available for a few months for free. Sometimes it’s introducing them to people or letting them know about other positions they could apply for, even if those jobs aren’t internal. And so, I can use my own family’s situation here as an example. My husband, he found out his company was going to outsource not just a few jobs, but his entire department. And he got laid off after 16 years with his business. Now, fortunately, the company did take the transition into consideration. You know, they gave him a couple of months notice so he could prepare, and the severance was, you know, I’d say, appropriate for how long he’d been with the company. But you know, he’s fortunate, because not every company takes that approach.
But this leads to the next issue: When you consider the relationship and circumstances, please consider the emotional influence of how you ask the employees to leave. If the employees have to go but they understand that you absolutely respect them, that’s one thing, OK? But you know what I see a lot that’s a kick in the face? The company asks the people who are being laid off because of the outsourcing to train their own replacements. And I’ll admit here, my husband’s company, they did a lot of things right, I think, but this was not one of them. So, for weeks, my husband is sitting there teaching people how to do his job, knowing that at the end of all of it, he was gonna be gone. And this is really tricky, because sometimes, there’s really no good way to train the new people coming in other than to have the current employees help. Right? Like, my husband, he’d been there long enough that there were things that really only he did or only he knew. So, in situations like that, you know, it’s hard to just have a training company come in or whatever. But I’m just saying, if the employees you’re letting go have to train the new people, just please, understand there’s gonna be some pain there. Because it’s like the company is saying that the employee’s investment or loyalty or knowledge, none of it matters. You know, they’re replaceable anyway. And that really does a number on a person’s confidence. So, make sure the employees have a way to have support through that.
The last thing I want to stress for businesses that are doing outsourcing is that there needs to be absolute clarity about what’s going on. This is partly because you don’t want to create an us versus them situation where there’s even more resentment with the employees who are being let go. But it’s also because the transition of outsourcing requires a lot of cooperation and teamwork. You won’t get that if there’s confusion or bad communication. So, you know, in Matthew 5:37, Jesus says let your yes be yes and your no be no. So, your decisions can’t be wishy-washy. They need to have good rationales and be definitive, all right? Everything you do has to point one way or the other instead of sitting in this murky gray area where people don’t really know what to do or what you intend.
Now, let me switch to the worker’s perspective. Like I just said, I understand how emotionally difficult it can be to watch your job go overseas or wherever. And one of the most common things people experience in that situation is a lot of anger and envy. You know, they get angry at the company for putting them in an unstable position and not respecting them, but they also get envious of the new hire. Because that person, now they’ve got the security, right? They’ve got everything the former employee just lost. Plain layoffs with downsizing a business, that’s a little different, because even though the workers lose what they had, nobody else is taking it up from them. And so sometimes what happens with outsourcing is, that anger and envy, it tempts people to behave in really irresponsible and unloving ways. So, that’s where you might see cases of employees sabotaging the transition in some way, you know, sharing company secrets with outsiders to get revenge, that kind of stuff. And you know, my husband, he’s a pretty patient guy, I’d say, but even he was like, “I just don’t feel like doing my job. I don’t feel like putting effort into training these new people. It feels bad.” So, you might even see workers who are normally really proactive, they just lose interest and energy and start to totally disengage. And I just want to encourage you, if you’re someone who’s getting laid off in an outsourcing situation, do not give in to those temptations, OK? James 3:16 offers a pretty clear warning and says, “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” And then Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” So, instead of letting all that smolder and blacken inside of you, I want you to hold your integrity and remember that you still represent Jesus, OK, right to the bitter end. You need to be able to walk away from your employer having given them absolutely no reason to doubt your integrity, all right? And while I’m not gonna minimize how tough it is to leave, I do want you to consider that old saying that every time God closes a door, He opens a window. And I’m absolutely not trying to brush things under the rug and turn this into a toxic positivity thing, OK? If you listen to me regularly you know I don’t believe in that. But there might be opportunity in the situation you don’t see. You know, most of the prophets in the Bible, they had to leave the lives they’d been living to go and do the amazing things God asked them to do. So, think about how you can serve God in your next chapter and be open to where He might take you. Put your energy into moving forward for that instead of getting stuck in the negativity of what’s happening. And like I’ve told people before, you don’t have to know exactly where God’s taking you to trust Him enough to follow Him there.
The other thing from the worker’s perspective is, try to keep in mind the ultimate vision of the business. In some cases, a company, they’ve got an amazing mission. They genuinely care about their workers. But it might be that the only way they can achieve that mission on a larger scale is to pinch those pennies. And so sometimes outsourcing ends up enabling the completion of what the business set out to do in the first place. So, if you as the worker can see that long game, and if you understand that your leaders aren’t just, you know, following a bunch of greed, you can lean on that understanding to help you understand the decisions that are being made, and that can help you to not take it as personally as you otherwise might. But I think the other side of that coin is, if you’re a business leader, it’s part of your responsibility to do as little harm as you can as you get to your goals. So, that’s where you have to look pretty far ahead and ask yourself where it’s gonna make sense to be hiring from right from the very beginning. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t hire locally, OK? I’m just saying, I think it needs to be clear as you plan when outsourcing might start to become necessary and to be open about that with both your customers and your current team. There’s a lot that’s up in the air economically, and I get that leaders can’t necessarily predict everything, but this kind of stuff shouldn’t just come out of nowhere for people. It needs to be seen in advance to a certain degree so you have a plan for how to help both new and old workers through the process.
So, to just wrap all this up, I would say that, from the Christian perspective, outsourcing really is only appropriate if you can do it in a way where you can protect both the people you’re letting go and bringing into the business. It’s absolutely critical that you put the relationships first and give everybody the support they need to transition to the next point. Sometimes saving money is the only way the business can do what it needs to do, but don’t ever outsource just to line your own pockets. And that’s as pragmatic as it is moral, OK? Because what you have to remember with outsourcing is that there’s gonna be a period after the new people are brought in when your customers adjust to the new employees. And if there’s any drop in quality at all, you know, customers feel that. And once customers start to mistrust you, it’s really hard to get that trust and engagement back. So, on paper, you might think you’re saving money, but ultimately, if you don’t handle it right, the outsourcing will cost you for the long-haul.
So, as we all try to navigate how to handle labor needs in the global market, let’s pray.
Lord, we all know that the need to operate with financial prudence is critical. But Lord, I pray that as we try to find the most economical ways to operate, if that means outsourcing, we don’t lose a sense that we’re always dealing with real human beings that You made. Let every decision we make about letting people go or hiring be made with compassion and loving our neighbor in mind over everything else. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Well, that does it for today, listeners. If you haven’t already done so, if you like what you heard, please go to faithfulontheclock.captivate.fm/support or patreon.com/faithfulontheclock to become a supporting member of the show. It’s just a great way to show the podcast a little love, get some extra goodies, and ensure that I have the financial resources to keep producing episodes for you. For the next show, I’m gonna be chatting with you about how to get through times of personal crisis in the office. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, gone through a serious illness, lost your home, gone through an assault, any of that kind of stuff, or if there are people on your team who are struggling, we’re gonna show you how to ask for and give support. I’ll see you in two weeks for that, everybody, and until then, be blessed.
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast meant to get your Christian faith and work aligned. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.
Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.