Industrial relations trouble makes ousted IT blogger smile

This is part 7 of a series of blogs following the life of an IT professional that lost his job as a result of his employer offshoring IT. This week he reveals how news of industrial relations troubles at suppliers made him smile.

See part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6

Situation: vacant

by IT Jobseeker

Last week’s story, about the Department of Work and Pensions and the BBC facing disruption because staff working for their outsourcing companies were to strike, made me smile.  When they first thought about outsourcing, did their respective bean counters consider the potential downside of depending on staff over whom they had no direct control? Probably not. The balance sheet is all.

Will the service level agreements the DWP and BBC signed with their outsourcers provide for compensation? Let’s hope so.

In a broader sense, the effects of relying on outsource staff go deep. Organisations who directly employ staff recognise who is an asset and who is a liability and can act accordingly. If a key member of staff threatens to leave, he or she can be offered inducements to stay, while a non-performer can be shown the door. In an outsourcing agreement, a company has little or no say over who does what.

From a staff point of view, working directly for a company provides a sense of belonging. This does not necessarily mean it’s a recipe for a contented workforce, but most people will see that they are part of the company’s success or failure.  Schemes run by some companies that provide share ownership, for example, help to promote this sense of involvement.   

For a new account, an outsourcing company will provide the keenest, brightest and best staff they have available, often moving staff in from other accounts. When they feel established, they will start to rotate staff, possibly moving in the not-so-bright. The client has no control.

It is perhaps for these reasons that Barclays have decided to bring their IT work back in house. A large British company has gone against the trend, hopefully more will follow.

Are company accountants finally noticing the (Indian) elephant in the room?